Conor O’Brien

Life
1880-1952; worked as an architect; served in the Royal Naval Reserve during the First World War; in his yacht The Kelpie, transferred guns for the Volunteers from Darrell Figgis’s tug, 1914 - the arms being shifted to the Chotah before landing at Kilcoole, Co. Wexford; sailed his small boat Saoirse, around the world, 1925, and issued Across Three Oceans (1926), a book of observations on circumnavigation; climbed mountains with Mallory, Young, Robert Graves, and others; he was god-father of Conor Cruise O’Brien (q.v.).

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Works
Across Three Oceans, intro. by Claud Worth (London: E. Arnold, 1926); Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Hart-Davis 1949), and Do. [3rd edn.: The Mariner’s Library]; London: Granada 1984)., 272pp., ill., 1 plan [maps].

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Criticism
Judith Hill, In Search of Islands: A Life of Conor O’Brien (Cork: Collins Press 2009), 200pp. See also F. X. Martin, The Howth Gun-Running and the Kilcoole Gun-Running 1914 (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1964).

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Commentary
George Dangerfield, The Strange Death of Liberal England (?1932; and rev. edn. 1972), “Bachelor’s Walk” [Chap.], gives an account of Conor O’Brien’s involvement with Darrell Figgis in the purchase and shipment to Ireland of 1,500 guns for the Irish Volunteers [gun-running], O’Brien landing his portion of 500 at Kilcoole in Co. Wicklow.

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References
Bernard Share, ed., Far Green Fields, 1500 Years of Irish Travel Writing, ed. (Blackstaff 1992), extract from Across Three Oceans (1926).

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Notes
Namesake: ‘C. O’Brien’ is named with J. Molloy as one of the compositors [typesetters] of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, printed at Liberty Hall on Sunday 23 April 1916 in James Carty, Bibliography of Irish History 1912-1921 (1941), Introduction.

Commemoration: Conor O’Brien’s boat The Kelpie is depicted among others on the quay wall of Wicklow Harbour.