James Christopher (‘Jim’, ‘Lugs’) Branigan

(24/10/1921 - 08/10/2014)

James Christopher Branigan, fondly known as Jim or “Lugs”, born on January 6, 1910, in the South Dublin Union, his life’s journey was destined to become an extraordinary tale of service, courage, and resilience. From his humble beginnings to his illustrious career as a guardian of law and order, Jim’s legacy continues to resonate in the hearts of those who knew him.

Growing up amidst the tumultuous backdrop of post-revolution Ireland, Jim witnessed the trials and tribulations of his homeland from a young age. Raised in the South Dublin Union complex, he experienced firsthand the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising, including the tragic shooting of a British soldier—an event that would leave an indelible mark on his psyche.

Despite the challenges of his early years, Jim’s upbringing instilled in him a sense of duty and honour that would guide him throughout his life. Educated at Basin Lane Convent and James’s St. CBS, he embarked on a career path that would ultimately lead him to join the ranks of the Garda Síochána in June 1931.

From the outset, Jim displayed a remarkable commitment to physical fitness, dedicating himself to rigorous training regimes to overcome the challenges of his slender frame. His endeavours led him to the world of boxing, where he competed in numerous inter-police contests and earned renown for his courage and resilience in the ring.

Jim’s boxing career took him to the international stage, where he faced formidable opponents and earned the admiration of audiences, including high-ranking Nazi officials in Germany. Despite his admiration for elements of the Nazi regime, Jim’s true allegiance lay with his country and its people—a sentiment that would shape his later years.

Transitioning from the ring to the role of referee, Jim continued to make his mark on the world of boxing, officiating over thousands of matches and championing the sport he loved. His contributions to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association and the Leinster council cemented his reputation as a stalwart of the boxing community.

However, it was Jim’s tenure as a garda in Dublin’s Kevin St. district that would truly define his legacy. Cycling through the streets of his beat, he became a familiar sight to residents, earning a reputation for dispensing rough justice with a firm but fair hand. His mere presence was often enough to quell tensions, and his interventions prevented numerous incidents of violence and crime.

He lived with his father 135 Drimnagh Road, Crumlin. Nicknamed “Lugs” by Dublin’s criminal underworld, Jim’s imposing stature and no-nonsense demeanour struck fear into the hearts of wrongdoers. Yet, beneath his tough exterior lay a compassionate soul, always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.

Jim’s commitment to public service was further exemplified during his tenure as a detective Garda and later as the head of a mobile “riot squad,” tasked with maintaining order in times of unrest. His bravery and dedication to duty earned him the respect and admiration of his peers and the public alike.

Retiring from active duty in 1973, Jim continued to serve his community in various capacities, including as the superintendent of security at Dublin’s Zhivago nightclub. His later years were spent in Summerhill, Co. Meath, where he cultivated crops and bred budgerigars—a testament to his lifelong passion for nature and the outdoors.

On May 22, 1986, Jim Lugs Branigan passed away, leaving behind a legacy that endures to this day. Remembered as a guardian of Crumlin’s streets and a champion of justice, his memory lives on in the hearts and minds of all who had the privilege of knowing him.

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Jim Lugs Branigan, let us honor his memory by embodying the same spirit of courage, compassion, and service that defined his remarkable life.

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Connection with area: Renowned tough Garda who lived in 1.35 Drimnagh Road,