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Ed Brennan, played by Michael Cumpsty, is a Catholic priest at St. Finbar's Church in Atlantic City. He teaches Teddy Schroeder in parochial school and gives spiritual guidance to Margaret Schroeder.



Brennan is a longstanding acquaintance of Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson.

Season 2[]

Margaret Schroeder and her son Teddy sit in front of Father Brennan, as Nucky Thompson looks on. Brennan questions Teddy about sin and confession. Nucky intercedes to answer a question when Teddy gives the wrong answer and encourages Teddy when he gets an answer correct. Nucky is impatient when the priest brings up hell. He asks Brennan to wrap up the discussion, using the priest's first name. Margaret reminds Nucky that the meeting is Teddy’s final chance to prepare for first confession. Nucky wagers that the three of them can save Teddy’s soul and tells Margaret he will wait in the car. Brennan informs Teddy that at age 7, which Brennan calls the age of reason, he can expect god to judge his actions. Brennan encourages Margaret to have Teddy ready to confess and also asks her to prepare her own confession. Margaret is surprised and the priest tells her that she needs to set an example for Teddy. ("The Age of Reason")

A row of parents and children wait beside the confessional at Father Brennan’s church. Margaret and Teddy are next in line. Margaret begins her confession and admits that it is about four years since her last. She initially says she has nothing to confess but after Brennan reminds her of the rationale for confession she admits having impure thoughts about a man that she knows is bad. Brennan believes she means Nucky, asking if it is the man who provided for her family. She clarifies that it is a man she has not known long that her family employs. ("The Age of Reason")

Margaret Schroeder prays alone in her church while Father Brennan collects donations from boxes in the end of the pews. He approaches her and asks if something is wrong, she relates the news of her daughter Emily Schroeder being diagnosed with polio. He apologises and she tells him that she is frightened. Brennan sits down in front of her and tries to reassure her that god is with Emily. Margaret wonders if god was with Emily when she got the illness and let it happen. Brennan subtly dismisses this as a childish view of god and reminds Margaret that she came to the church for help. Margaret says that she had nowhere else to turn and he reminds her of her recent confession regarding temptation. Margaret tries to change the subject and he says that she is asking god for help without offering something in return. She claims that she is offering devotion and he explains that devotion is an act and she must find her own way to demonstrate her devotion. His tray of coins and bills jangles as he leaves her to consider his meaning. ("Georgia Peaches")

Father Brennan listens to a record in his lavish study. His housekeeper announces Margaret and he hides a glass of wine behind a floral arrangement before allowing her in. He turns off the record and puts it away as she enters and she apologises for disturbing him. He invites her to sit and explains that the records are easy to get out of order. He asks about Emily and Margaret says that her doctor is reluctant to make predictions. Brennan guesses that the doctor wants to avoid giving false hope. Margaret says she would not mind and Brennan asks her if she would prefer to believe in something real. Margaret says she wants to believe that Emily will recover and Brennan wonders if Margaret is looking for a miracle. Margaret admits that she is and details her hopes for Emily to have a normal life without suffering. She catches herself before she gives a reason for that suffering. Brennan asks if Margaret recalls their earlier discussion and she confirms that he means an act of devotion before removing her possessions from her bag. He wonders what it is for and she explains that it is a donation to the church. Brennan says that he is not accustomed to receiving cash or jewels directly and Margaret asks if there is another method he would prefer. He asks about her motivation and she tells him that there is a weight on her soul that she wants to be free of and calls the donation a show of willingness. She asks if they can begin there. Brennan checks the contents of the envelope and agrees that they can. He then invites her to pray with him. ("Georgia Peaches")

Brennan and Margaret watch as Dr Holt reviews Emily, who now has her leg braces fitted, at the Atlantic City Children's Hospital. Holt asks if Emily is willing to try walking. Emily looks to Margaret who encourages her. They help her down from the couch and into a standing position, Holt supporting her on one side and Margaret on the other. Margaret asks how it feels and Emily tells her that her legs are rubbery. Holt warns Emily that they are going to let go and Margaret reassures her that they will remain by her side. When they do so Emily begins to collapse so they quickly help her back onto the couch. Nevertheless, Holt tells Emily that she did well and Margaret praises Emily for standing straight up. Margaret asks Brennan to confirm this and he tells Emily that she was right there with the best of them. Holt offers her a lolly from his coat pocket and Margaret prompts her to say thank you. Holt asks for Emily’s permission to talk to Margaret in private, which she grants. Holt tells Margaret that Emily needs to develop strength in her upper body and cautions her not to let Emily revert to crawling. Holt goes to sign Emily’s discharge papers and Brennan takes Margaret to the corridor. Brennan reassures Margaret that god will hold her up, just as she has held up Emily. Margaret worries that she needs to support herself and Brennan tells her the parable of the spoons to illustrate that it is necessary to help others and to accept help. He tells her that her donation has been added to the fund to construct a new parish hall and that they now have enough for walls and flooring but not for the roof. Margaret offers more and Brennan claims that this was not what he meant before leaving. Margaret looks back at Emily, holding her new doll. ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")

Brennan accompanies Margaret to a meeting with Assistant US Attorney Esther Randolph. She introduces herself to Margaret and Margaret introduces Brennan in turn. Brennan interrupts Margaret and asserts that he is there for moral support. Randolph jokes that she doubts that she will need it. Brennan clarifies that he meant for Margaret and Margaret tells him that Randolph understood that. They take their seats and Brennan tells Randolph about Emily’s illness. Randolph offers sympathy and Brennan adds that Margaret is a widow and devoted mother. He goes on to say that Margaret is active in the church and ignorant of the charges in the case against Nucky. Randolph counters that she was unaware that they taught law at seminary school. Margaret asks to speak to Randolph alone and dismisses Brennan over his objections. He jokes that he will go and buy some stamps. ("To the Lost")

Brennan marries Margaret and Nucky in August 1921. Nucky escapes conviction when a mistrial is declared. Margaret donates $160,000 worth of Nucky's land to the Brennan's church. ("To the Lost")

Season 3[]

In the afternoon of December 31, 1922 Father Brennan tours Catholic-run St. Theresa's Hospital with Margaret Thompson to see what her funding has achieved. They are shocked when a woman miscarries right in front of them. ("Resolution")

On January 9, 1923 Brennan hosts Bishop Norman at St. Finbar's Church to honor Nucky Thompson with the St. Gregory's Award for the land he donated to the church. ("Bone for Tuna")


Memorable Quotes[]


Season two appearances
21 Ourselves Alone A Dangerous Maid What Does the Bee Do?
Gimcrack & Bunkum The Age of Reason Peg of Old Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Battle of the Century Georgia Peaches Under God's Power She Flourishes To the Lost
Season three appearances
"Resolution" "Spaghetti and Coffee" "Bone for Tuna" "Blue Bell Boy"
"You'd Be Surprised" "Ging Gang Goolie" "Sunday Best" "The Pony"
"The Milkmaid's Lot" "A Man, A Plan..." "Two Imposters" "Margate Sands"