Sophie O'Brien Descriptive List (Ref. PR25)


economist, her younger brother André, to whom she was close, was a poet and friend of poet John Gray. She married William O'Brien M.P. (1852-1928) in London in June 1890 (PR25/3 and PR25/12). At the time, O’Brien was editor of the Irish Land League newspaper, United Ireland. They came into contact through her and her mother’s support for Irish nationalism during the ‘Land War’ of the 1880’s, and their proposed translation of William O'Brien’s fenian romance novel When We Were Boys (1890). Sophie O'Brien provided much moral and practical support to William O'Brien, acting as his secretary and devoting herself to his welfare, and her wealth was used in financing his political activities, however the Russian Revolution in 1917 seems to have reduced this wealth considerably. The couple lived in Westport Co. Mayo for the first 20 years, and following that in Mallow County Cork (PR25/46). She was noted for her work with the needy during her time in Ireland. Converting to Roman Catholicism prior to her marriage, she was to become committed to her new faith, and some of her close friends were nuns (PR25/5 and PR25/59). She was well-read and produced a number of works including a translation of John Morley’s biography of Richard Cobden, and a series of books reflecting on her life and times in Ireland including Golden Memories (1929) and My Irish Friends (1937). She wrote many articles for various newspapers and periodicals, of which a number are found in the present collection (Section C of the arrangement). Unlike her husband, she was not a supporter female political enfranchisment (PR25/17). She remained in Ireland for a few years following her husband’s death in 1928, before returning to France to live with close friends at Eplessier, near Amiens (PR25/7). She spent the last years of her life in poverty, but was granted a small pension by the Irish Government in recognition of her contribution to the nation. Sophie O'Brien’s husband, William O'Brien (1852-1928 ) was a journalist, writer and a major nationalist political figure born in Mallow, County Cork. He was particularly involved in the campaigns for land reform in Ireland in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, drafting the famous ‘No rent’ manifesto while imprisoned in Kilmainham gaol in 1881-2. He was elected Parnellite M.P. in 1883 for Mallow, and later for other areas, including Cork City up

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