R. Barry O’Brien

1864-1918 [Richard Barry O’Brien]; b. Kilrush, Co. Clare; ed. privately and at the Catholic University, Dublin; bar, 1874 [var. 1875]; ed. The Speaker in London; chairman London Gaelic League 1892-1906, and President 1906-11; loyal Parnellite and unpaid secretary to Parnell, and later his biographer (1898); other works include Irish Land Question and English Public Opinion (1879); Fifty Years of Irish History (2 vols., 1883-85); Lord Russell of Killowen (1901); Studies in Irish History [2nd series] (1906); ed. Two Centuries of Irish History (1888); The Autobiography of Wolfe Tone (893); and Speeches of John Redmond (1910); acted for John MacBride in separation proceedings with Maud Gonne; O’Brien had an adress at 100 Sinclair Rd., W. Kensington, London. JMC DIB DIH FDA

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The Parliamentary History of the Irish Land Question from 1829 to 1869 and the Origins and Results of the Ulster Custom (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle & Co. 1880); Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland,1831-1881 (London: Sampson, Low 1883); Irish Wrongs and English Remedies, with other Essays (London: Kegan Paul, Trench 1887); Thomas Drummond: Under-Secretary in Ireland 1835-1840: Life and Letters (London: Kegan Paul 1889); The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell 1846-1891, 2 vols. (London: Smith, Elder 1898), and Do. [another edn.] (London & Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson [1910]); A Hundred Years of Irish History (London: Isbister 1902; Pitman 1911); Irish Memories (London: Fisher Unwin 1904); England’s Title in Ireland (London: Fisher Unwin 1905); Dublin Castle and the Irish People (London: Gill 1909); ed., Autobiography of Wolfe Tone, 2 vols. (London: Fisher Unwin 1893); Speeches of John Redmond MP (London: Fisher Unwin 1910).

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W. P. Ryan
, The Irish Literary Revival (1894), R. Barry O’Brien, acting ed. of The Speaker; a lawyer; ‘devotion to rigid fact and an aversion to the play of fancy are among his strong points. [111] Mr O’Brien would choke up the sparkling, leaping mountain rill of Celtic fancy with forbidding boulders and skeletons which he calls the materials of history. He would crush Celtic Ireland under a cairn of law-books, and then go forth in good faith to tell the outside world of an Irish literary revival’ [112]; wrote a column on ‘The Best Hundred Irish Books’, in Freeman’s Journal. [112].

Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde, 1974): ‘On the 13 Feb. 1891, Hyde was by chance taken to the first meeting of the Irish Literary Society, with Crook - his host - and Barry O’Brien, Rolleston, Yeats, et al.’ (p.150.)

James Fairhall, James Joyce and The Question of History (Cambridge UP 1993): ‘R. Barry O’Brien’s biography (1898), which appeared less than a decade after his death, codified what several historians have called ‘the Parnell myth’. Quotes: ‘The fight went on, and not a ray of hope shone upon Parnell’s path. In Ireland the Fenians rallied everywhere to his standard, but the whole power of the Church was used to crush him. In June he married Mrs. O’Shea, and a few weeks later “young” Mr. Gray, of the Freeman’s Journal, seized upon the marriage as a pretext for going over to the enemy, because it was against the law of the Catholic Church to marry a divorced woman. But Parnell, amid all reverses, never lost heart [...] He [...] continued to traverse the country, cheering his followers, and showing a bold front to his foes.’ (pp.340-41).

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Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: University of America 1904); gives extracts from ‘Introduction’ to Tone’s Autobiography (‘Capture of Wolfe Tone’); Life of Parnell; biog., b. Kilrush, Co. Clare, 1847; ed. Catholic Univ., Dublin; Irish Bar, 1874; English bar, 1875; The Irish Land Question and English Public Opinion; The Parliamentary History of the Irish Land Question; Fifty Years of Concessions and English Remedies; Thomas Drummond’s Life and Letters; Irish Wrongs and English Remedies; Life of Charles Stewart Parnell; The Life of Lord Russell of Killowen; ed. with intro. Autobiography of Wolfe Tone; founder member of Irish Lit. Soc, and chairman.

Frank O’Connor, Book of Ireland (London: Collins 1959, &c.), gives an extract from his The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell the description of the Ennis meeting introducing the Boycott policy of the Land League for any who ‘bids for a farm from which his neighbour has been evicted’, ‘isolate him from his kind as if he were a leper of old - you must show him your detestation of the crime he has committed, and you may depend upon it that there will be no man so full of avarice, so lost to shame, as to dare the public opinion of all right-thinking men and to transgress your unwritten code of law.’

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; selects The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell (1898) [312-20], in the course of which Barry remonstrates with Parnell for his language regarding Gladstone whom he reminds him he called ‘a grand old spider’ [317]; O’Brien had many conversations with Parnell in 1890-91, and his book therefore documents Parnell’s attitude to constitutional politics and physical force, as well as his wariness of English politicians [‘It is a mistake to negotiate with an Englishman. He knows the business better than you do’, 316], and his underestimate of the effect of his divorce, 312; Sigerson dedicated his Bards of the Gael and Gall (1907) to Hyde and the historian and Parnellite O’Brien, 728; Lionel Johnson’s “’Ninety-Eight” is dedicated to O’Brien, 747; the lines in Joyce, ‘’Twas Irish humour, quick and dry, / Flung quicklime into Parnell’s eye’, an event at Castlecomer, summer 1891, related in O’Brien, 771n.; 369, BIOG [see supra].

Belfast Public Library holds, Coercion or Redress (1881); Dublin Castle and the Irish People (1909, 1912); Fifty Years of Concessions in Ireland 1831-1887 (1890); Home Rule Manual (1890); Hundred Years of Irish History (1902, 1991); In Memory of Fontenoy (1905); Irish Memories (1904); Irish Wrongs and English Remedies (1887); Life of Charles Stewart Parnell (1897); Life of Lord Russell Killowen (1901); The Parliamentary History of the Irish Land Question 1821-1869 (1880);Studies in Irish History 1603-1649 (1906); Thomas Drummond (1889); ed., Two Centuries of Irish History, 1691-1870 (1907) [see under Sigerson]; ed. The Irish Nuns at Ypres (1916).

University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection, holds The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell (c.1910 edn.).

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James Joyce held a copy of The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell (London & Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson [1910]), in his Trieste Library. (See Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of James Joyce, Faber, p.121 [Appendix].

John MacBride, when charged with indecency by his wife Maud Gonne, consulted with the leading nationalist lawyer Barry O’Brien, who attempted to mediate between the parties in the interest of the nationalist cause. (See Anthony Jordan, The Yeats Gonne MacBride Triangle, Westport 2000, passim.).

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