Patrick Bronte’s Beginnings In Drumballyroney

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also a day we remember another Patrick – for on this day in 1777 in Drumballyroney, County Down (that’s it at the top of this post) a local farmer’s wife had a son who was named after the patron saint whose day it was. Patrick Prunty, or Brunty, was a natural scholar and, with the aid of a local priest named Thomas Tighe, came to Cambridge University in 1802. It was there he changed his name to Patrick Brontë. Reverend Brontë encouraged his children to read and learn, and he was royally rewarded when his daughters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë became some of the greatest novelists the world has ever known.

Young Patrick Brontë
Portrait of a young Patrick Brontë

In previous posts down the years we’ve looked at Patrick Brontë’s life and influence, from saving a boy from drowning to throwing a prizefighting village bully over a hedge, to campaigning for better sanitation in Haworth – a move which saved tens of thousands of lives. Patrick Brontë had a life filled with tragedy, he did after all bury his wife and all six of his children, but it was a life well lived, one filled with incident. As Patrick himself said: “I do not deny that I am somewhat eccentric. If I had been numbered among the calm, sedate, concentric men of the world I should not have been as I now am. And I should in all probability never have had such children as mine have been.”

In today’s post we remember Patrick’s homeland, as it’s a very appropriate way to do it. Charlotte was the only Brontë sibling to visit her fatherland, as she spent her honeymoon there in 1854 with Arthur Bell Nicholls, another Irishman. The Irish spirit of courage and creativity shone through in all of their writing, and in their lives, however. We are going to do this through the eyes of the 1894 book ‘The Brontës In Ireland: Or Facts Stranger Than Fiction’ by Dr. William Wright. Here is the chapter on Patrick’s birth and on his parents Hugh and Alice:

So we can see that Patrick Brontë was born in a lowly cowshed, but thanks to his genius daughters his name will live on forever. To all of you, have a happy St. Patrick’s Day, a happy Sunday, and I hope to see you here next week for another new Brontë blog post.

Patrick Bronte
Patrick Bronte encouraged his daughters’ creativity

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