Brian O’Higgins was born in Kilskyre in 1882. According to tradition his grandfather came from Tyrone to take part in the 1798 rebellion on Tara. Educated at Kilskyre National School, O’Higgins became a draper’s assistant in Clonmellon. A number of his early poems were published in the Meath Chronicle. In 1901 he went to work as a barman in Dublin where he joined the O’Growney branch of the Gaelic League.
In 1906 O’Higgins became the Gaelic League organiser in Meath and Cavan and a travelling teacher of Irish visiting all the major towns in the area. O’Higgins began writing verses in street ballad style mainly of a political and nationalistic nature, writing under the pen name “Brian na Banban.” One of his works “A Stór Mo Chroi” remains a popular song today. He contributed to a number of local papers and also religious magazines. In 1915 he founded a satirical magazine “Irish Fun” which ceased publication after the 1916 rising. O’Higgins served in the G.P.O. during the rising and was imprisoned in Stafford jail and Frongoch camp, Wales.
In the 1918 general election O’Higgins stood for West Clare and was elected unopposed. He was in prison when he was elected and so missed the meeting of the first Dail. In 1919 he was involved in the establishment of Republican Courts in Clare.
O’Higgins opposed the Treaty and was returned unopposed as M.P. in 1922. Interned in 1923 he went on hunger strike. Almost dying he finished his strike after twenty four days. He was elected on Eamon de Valera’s surplus in 1923. O’Higgins gave the Wolfe Tone oration at Bodenstown in 1924. In 1925 he published “The Soldier’s Story of Easter Week.” Choosing not to join the Fianna Fail party he remained with Sinn Féin until he was defeated in 1927.
In 1926 he and the artist Michael O’Brien established a firm to manufacture greeting cards and other items based on Celtic designs.
O’Higgins resigned from Sinn Féin in 1934. In 1937 O’Higgins with Joseph Clarke founded the Wolfe Tone Weekly which was suppressed and then he began a yearly publication of the Wolfe Tone Annual. O’Higgins provided a story based on a hero or event from Ireland’s past as a counter to the revisionist historians and politicians. The 1944 issue was banned for its republican views. O’Higgins described Eamon de Valera as “His Majesty’s Prime Minister” and accused him of corrupting Ireland more than the centuries of British rule had. The Wolfe Tone Annual appeared each year until 1962. Copies are available in the local studies section of Meath County Library.
In 1938 O’Higgins and a number of other former anti-Treaty T.D.s signed over the authority of the government of Ireland to the I.R.A. army council which then saw itself as the legitimate government.
A regular church goer O’Higgins died during a retreat at St. Anthony’s church, Clontarf on 10 March 1963.
The Kilskyre G.A.A. grounds was named in his honour.