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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Henry Bruen (later The Rt Hon Sir Henry Bruen)
  • Born 16 June 1828 Oak Park, Carlow
  • Died 3 March 1912 Oak Park, Carlow
  • Educated Private School of Reverend JM Glubb Shermanbury, Sussex.
  • Occupation Politician
  • Debut 17 May 1858 v MCC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 27
  • Style Hand unknown.
  • Teams Carlow, Phoenix, Na Shuler, I Zingari.

Henry Bruen was a somewhat ordinary cricketer, whose family had a long association with cricket in Co Carlow. They had acquired the vast and beautiful estate of Oak Park during the early 18th century. Henry's father, also Henry and an Army Colonel before he entered parliament as MP for Co Carlow, had carried out many improvements on the estate. He was involved in the foundation of the Carlow Club which some historians have dated at 1831, but which may well have been a decade earlier. He was also one of its first Presidents. He died in 1857, Henry, the subject of this notice, succeeding him both in the estate and, as a Conservative MP, at Westminster.

His Irish debut, and only appearance came at Lord's the following year. It may well be that he owed selection to his London residence. He got little chance to show his skills, being 1*, at No 10, when the Irish innings closed on 120. However in conditions described by Arthur Haygarth as being "a sea of mud" the compiler of Scores and Biographies was playing in the match, Charles Lawrence and former Cambridge captain James McCormick, twice routed their hosts, to give Ireland an innings win. McCormick was the only batsman in the match to come terms with the wicket. His 34 was top score, though it was closely pursued by an invaluable Irish run getter, Mr Extras, who scored a decidedly useful 31!

Henry was occasionally seen in major matches in Ireland but did little. Thus in July 1863 he was at 11, for South v North, his innings of 9* and 2 doing little to stave off defeat caused largely by the bowling Thomas Quinn, Quinn was a Phoenix man, the number of genuine Northern players on the side being few indeed, though the NICC wicket keeper Clement Cordner, was agile behind the stumps. Henry also appeared for XVIII of Carlow v I Zingari in August of the same year. Batting at 18, he was 0*, as the well known Henry Arkwright ran through the batting. Time ran out before he got to the wicket again. In the autumn of 1864, he was one of those present at a dinner party at Coolatin, when the decision was taken to found Na Shuler an imitation of I Zingari. Fred Ponsonby, and his brother, Spencer taking the lead as they had done over I Zingari. Henry was in the first Shuler side which took on XIV of Coolatin the following season. He made 7 as the hosts scored a notable victory. He was also to be seen in I Zingari colours some two years later v XXII of Kilkenny. He batted at 10 and was bowled by Lord JHT Butler for 4. He did not bat a second time, but had his revenge on the Butler family, catching his Lordship's elder brother, Marquis of Ormonde for 1.

Henry was MP for Co Carlow from 1857 to 1880, being also a member of the Irish Privy Council. This enabled him to play in other cricket for example for Opposition v Government in 1861 and for Commons v Lords eleven years later.

His greatest interest in cricket probably came from the feats of his son, also Henry and by far the best cricketer in the family. A slow left armer, he was an officer in the Royal Artillery, and a considerable force in Army cricket. The leading bowler on EJ Sanders tour of North America in 1885, he had been selected to play for Ireland v I Zingari the previous year, but withdrew, deciding to play for the visitors instead.

He was one of his father's three sons and six daughters. Henry, senior married Mary Margaret Connolly of Castletown, Co Kildare, her family's magnificent Georgian mansion still stands, a monument to a bygone, artistic and. for some, opulent age.

Henry Bruen's estate remained in the hands of his family until 1957. Now a forest park, its splendour may be appreciated by all.