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Dr. Damien Brennan

Associate Professor (School of Nursing & Midwifery)

Dr Brennan is Associate Professor at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin where his teaching and research are focused on the Sociology of Health and Illness. Dr Brennan has developed a significant agenda of research which examines 'Contexts of Care Provision in Ireland'. Dr Brennan has held senior leadership, managerial and administrative positions at College, Faculty and School level; including two (three year) terms as Elected Member to University Council; Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning; Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning; Member of School Executive; and Subject Leader for Sociology. He has made a major contribution to understanding Ireland's problematic institutional past, while also examining the potential for care provision within contemporary Irish communities and families, with particular reference to Intellectual Disability and Mental Illness. This research agenda has attracted funding from bodies such as the Irish Research Council, the National Disability Authority, the Irish Penal Reform Trust and the Department of Health and Children. Dr Brennan held roles of PI, Co-Researcher and project manager to these funded research initiatives, which has resulted in quality outputs in academic journals, book chapters and a sole authored book. Dr Brennan also acts as a 'public intellectual', disseminating research through TV Documentaries, National Radio, Print Media, Key Note Addresses and Public Lectures. His work is an established point of reference which both informs and shapes national discourse concerning 'Contexts of Care Provision in Ireland'.
  Aetiology of mental illness   Development studies   Development, prevention and treatment of mental disease or disorder   Gender issues, gender studies   Mental health nursing   Mental health promotion   Patterns of health   Psychiatry   Social Theory   Sociological influences on health   Sociology of illness and health
 The Social Contract for Care Provision in Ireland
 The development of measurements of caring capacity in domestic / home settings
 A participatory action research pilot study to enhance long term care planning for older people with an Intellectual Disability (ID) in Ireland and their families.

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Details Date
I am currently leading and chairing a collaboration with Family Careers Ireland, which is exploring the 'social contract' for care provision in Ireland. Supported by funding from the IRC, this collaboration is focused on the development of social policy which navigates the relationship between the State, the Family and the Individual in terms of responsibility for care provision in Ireland. 2021-2022
Member of Numerous External Interview Panels 2002-To Date
Member of International Election Observer Register; European Commission Election Observation Mission (2000-to date). Observer of Albanian General Elections (2001) - Selected as Observer for Pakistani Elections Mission (Election monitoring mission withdrawn prior to deployment) 2002-To Date
Board Member, Greystones Family Resource Centre 2019-2021
Presenter and Contributor at a Round Table meeting with the HSE National Clinical Programme for People with Disability and Trinity Center for Ageing and Intellectual Disability 26th January 2022
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland Subject Lead (Sociology) contributor to new NMBI Standards and Requirements for Nurse Registration Programmes 2016
Peer Reviewer, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities 2014-2022
Invited Contributor to 'Mary Raftery Journalism Fund - Screening of Behind the Walls and Seminar - Are you sitting Comfortably? and Roundtable on Documentary Film Making Ethics. Irish Film Institute / Broadcasting Authority of Ireland / RTE 2015
Member of Delegation to Present to Oireachtas Sub Committee on Ageing and ID 2015
Member of Delegation to Present to Department of Health and Children on Ageing and ID 2015
Peer Reviewer, Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine 2012-2022
Invited Speaker, Law Society of Ireland, 'Are our prisons becoming twenty-first Century asylums for the mentally ill' 17th November 2010
Peer Reviewer, Journal of Nurse Management 2005-2022
Sociological Association of Ireland, Member of Executive. 2005 to 2011
External Examiner, BSc (Hons) Nursing, Dundalk Institute of Technology 2009-2012
External Examiner, BSc (Hons) Nursing, Athlone Institute of Technology 2002-2006
Invited Speaker to The Association of Irish Mental Health Nurse Managers 8th April 2006
Details Date From Date To
An Bord Altranais, Registered Psychiatric 1992 To Date
An Bord Altranais, Registered Nurse Tutor 2000 To Date
Sociological Association of Ireland 2003 To Date
European Sociological Association 2010 To Date
International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 2016 To Date
Breslin, N., Brennan, D., Hollywood, E., Comiskey, C. and Sheerin, F., The role of Path Dependency Theory in the reproduced structures, systems and practices of the Irish Mental Health System over the last 200 years., Trinity Health and Education International Research Conference 2024 (THEconf2024) New Horizons in Healthcare: Global Impact, Local Relevance, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 5-7th March, 2024, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
The social contract of care for people with an Intellectual Disability in, editor(s)Sheerin, F. and Doyle, C. , Intellectual Disabilities: Health and Social Care Across the Lifespan, Geneva, Springer Nature, 2023, [Brennan D. & D'Eath M. ], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED
Brennan, D., D'eath, M., McCallion, P. & McCarron, M., Health and well-being of sibling carers of adults with an intellectual disability in Ireland: Four waves of data., British Journal of Learning Disabilities., 2023, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
Timmins, F., McCausland, D., Brennan, D., Sheerin, F., Luus, R., McCallion, P., & McCarron, M. , A national cohort study of spiritual and religious practices of older people with intellectual disability, A national cohort study of spiritual and religious practices of older people with intellectual disability, 0, 2023, p , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Brennan, D., D'eath, M., Dunne, N., O'Donovan, M-A., McCallion, P., & McCarron, M., ). Irish Social Policy to Family Carers of Adults with an Intellectual Disability: A critical analysis, Journal of Intellectual Disability, 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Brennan, D., McCausland, D., O'Donnovan, M-A., Eustace-Cook, J., McCallion, P., & McCarron, M., Approaches to and outcomes of future planning for family carers of adults with an intellectual disability: A systematic review, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 33, (6), 2020, p1221 - 1233, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
McCausland, D., McCallion, P., Brennan, D., McCarron, M., In pursuit of meaningful occupation: Employment and occupational outcomes for older Irish adults with an intellectual disability, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 33, (3), 2020, p386 - 397, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Damien Brennan, Family Care provision for psychiatric patients in Post Institutional Ireland , Prisons Asylums Workhouses Institutions in Ireland: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland AND Queens University Belfast , Queens University Belfast, Thursday 13th to Sat, 2019, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  URL
McCausland, Darren, Brennan, Damien, McCallion, Philip, McCarron, Mary, Balancing personal wishes and caring capacity in future planning for adults with an intellectual disability living with family carers, Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 23, (3), 2019, p413-431 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Brennan, D., McCausland, D., McCallion, P. and McCarron, My Future Care Road Map, Accessible Planning Tool, Trinity College Dublin, 2019, p1 - 12, Report, PUBLISHED  URL

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Irish Independent - Nicola Anderson, 'People with intellectual disability in limbo as families shun talks on future Irish', Irish Independent, Dublin , 2017, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Irish Examiner - Catherine Shanahan & Noel Baker, 'No care plans for special needs elderly', Irish Examiner Thursday, June 16, 2016, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Damien Brennan, 'Time for Those Damaged by the Asylum System to Tell Their Stories', Irish Independent , 2014, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Damien Brennan, Mental Health and Happiness in Ireland, Trinity Week Symposium , Trinity College , 9th April, 2014, Trinity College , Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Irish Times - Fintan O Toll, 'Time for State to acknowledge great wrong of Irish mental hospital system', Ireland, Irish Times, 2013, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Irish Times - Jo Humphreys, 'Professional and local interests had stake in keeping asylums, says major study', Ireland, Irish Times, 2013, - 5, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
News Talk - George Hook, 'The Right Hook', 2013, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
RTE, 'Marian Finucane - Sunday Morning Radio', RTE, Ireland, 2013, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Brennan D., Irish Insanity: The excessive use of Mental Hospitals in Ireland, Trinity College, 24th October, 2013, School of Nursing and Midwifery "Tell me about public lecture series", Notes: [public lecture], Invited Talk, PUBLISHED


Award Date
Masters in Arts (j.o.), Trinity College November 2006
My research agenda has addressed some uncomfortable aspects of Ireland's past use of institutional care settings, while also examining the capacity for care provision within contemporary Irish society. This is a substantive undertaking; for example I have mapped an institutional social process spanning some two-hundred years, illustrating that Ireland had the highest level of mental hospital residency internationally. This was prolonged, detailed, hard-won, and at times 'unpopular' research, culminating in my sole authored book Irish Insanity 1800-2000 (2014). Acting on my research knowledge, I have intervened as a public intellectual by placing this research firmly within the public and political domains. This research agenda has opened up new academic challenges within the 'post-institutional landscape' in Ireland. Specifically, there are new and urgent challenges regarding the capacity of contemporary Irish society to provide care within the home/domestic setting, in fields such as mental health, intellectual disability and ageing. Tangible examples of my growing impact in defining and progressing this field is my research report Understanding Family Strategies that enable Long Term and Sustainable Home Environments for Older People with Intellectual Disability (2016), funded by the National Disability Authority, and my subsequent (2018) IRC funded research A participatory action research study to enhance long term care planning for older people with an Intellectual Disability in Ireland and their families. Building on this research agenda new research objectives are formulated, for example my current leadership of an IRC funded research collaboration with the Family Careers Ireland which is examining the Social Contract for Care Provision in Ireland (2020-2021)