Launched on the sixth anniversary of one of his most controversial decisions — the blanket bank guarantee — the book, Brian Lenihan: In Calm And Crisis has drawn widespread attention for the way it chronicles the nation’s slide into the humiliation of the bailout in 2010.
Mr Lenihan’s widow, Patricia Ryan, and their children Tom and Clare were in attendance, as well as his brother, the former minister Conor Lenihan.
Mr Lenihan’s aunt, former Cabinet minister Mary O’Rourke, was one of the key speakers at the event.
Referring to the Irish people, Ms O’Rourke said: “They kept their love for Brian and for that we are very grateful.”
Broadcaster and historian John Bowman spoke of how Ms O’Rourke had tutored the young Brian in Latin to give him a head start when he attended private school in Dublin, but the 12-year-old had told the family that when he grew up he was going to run away back to the Lenihans’ roots in Athlone.
The book contains reminiscences about Mr Lenihan’s life and political career from a range of people who knew or worked with him.
A chapter written by the Canadian finance minister at the time of the financial crisis, Jim Flaherty, reveals that Mr Lenihan fought off an IMF attempt to raise Ireland’s competitive corporation tax.
“At one point the IMF asked me to intervene as the leader of the Canadian constituency at the IMF to demand Ireland raise its corporate tax rate as a condition of receiving IMF aid.
“Brian dismissed the suggestion. I did not press the point, given not only that the lower corporate tax rate was a proven economic advantage for Ireland, but also that the unemployment rate and public debt in Ireland were both rising dramatically. It was not the time to discourage investment in Ireland,” wrote Mr Flaherty.
The book was edited by Ms O’Rourke along with Noel Whelan and Brian Murphy.
Those attending the book launch, held at the National Library, included former taoiseach Bertie Ahern and key Fianna Fáil and Green Cabinet members from the previous government.