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O'Reilly, John Boyle, 1844-1890


Biographical Note

John Boyle O'Reilly was born in Dowth, near Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, in 1844. At about age eleven he began an apprenticeship at the printing office of the Drogheda Argus, then spent his later teens in Preston, England, where he was an apprenticed reporter for The Guardian and joined the Lancashire Rifle Volunteers. In his early twenties O'Reilly joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, which led to his arrest and conviction for treason. He was originally sentenced to be hanged, but due to his youth his sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life in Western Australia. In 1869, O'Reilly escaped on a New Bedford whaleboat, the Gazelle. O'Reilly settled in Boston, where he became the editor of the Catholic newspaper The Pilot. In 1872 he married Mary Murphy. The couple had four daughters, Mary Boyle, Eliza, Agnes and Blanid. Works published during his lifetime include: four volumes of poems, Songs of the Southern Seas (1873); Songs, Legends and Ballads (1878); The Statues in the Block (1881); and In Bohemia (1886); a novel based on his Australian imprisonment, Moondyne (1879); and a nonfiction work, The Ethics of Boxing and Manly Sport (1888). He died in 1890.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Address on John Boyle O'Reilly: typescript

Scope and Contents

Typescript draft of a laudatory address on John Boyle O'Reilly, with manuscript corrections.

Restrictions on Access

Open for research.

Dates: 1896

George D. Cahill papers

Abstract The George D. Cahill papers consist of the personal papers of a Quincy, Mass. merchant active in Irish-American causes in the late nineteenth century. The collection contains correspondence, fliers, circulars, published speeches, and ephemera, as well as membership and financial records for Irish nationalist organizations including the Fenian Brotherhood, the Irish National Land League of the United States, and the Irish National League of America, among others. The papers date from 1845 to...
Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Dates: 1845-circa 1921; Majority of material found within 1870 - 1890

Daniel Chester French, 1892-1894

 File — Box 1: Series I; Series II, Folder: 13
Series Description From the Series:

This series contains letters written to James Jeffrey Roche.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; portions of the collection available digitally.

Dates: 1892-1894

Invitation to Harry W. French from John Boyle O'Reilly and others, not after 1887 : manuscript

 Collection — Shared_box 1012
Scope and Contents Invitation to Harry W. French from five prominent Boston Irish Americans, written in ink on a single sheet of lined paper. Signed by John Boyle O'Reilly, Hugh O'Brien, Patrick A. Collins, T.J. Dacey, and Dominick Fay. Full text reads "Harry W. French Esq. Dear Sir, we cordially invite you to give your lectures on Ireland in this city, confident that your knowledge of the subject and splendid illustrations of it will interest and entertain all classes of our fellow citizens." Likely written...
Restrictions on access

Open for research.

Dates: between 1880-1887

Boston College collection of John Boyle O'Reilly

Abstract This collection documents the later life of Irish political activist, author, and editor John Boyle O'Reilly during his years living in Boston, Massachusetts. Materials include his correspondence, hand-written poems, published songs, and the scrapbooks he assembled to document his literary career. The collection also contains materials by others concerning O'Reilly, including correspondence by his peers; manuscript and published articles; speeches; and tributes by Massachusetts organizations...
Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Dates: 1857 - 1981; 1870 - 1924

Mary Boyle O'Reilly papers


The Mary Boyle O’Reilly papers document her work as a journalist and political activist, particularly during World War I. They include O’Reilly’s correspondence from Europe during the war, her typescripts, a small series of individually typed or handwritten poems, many with inscriptions from O'Reilly's friends, and family photographs.

Restrictions on access

Collection contains some original materials too fragile to handle. Access copies have been provided for most, but the correspondence series is closed pending conservation. Box 1 contains open materials. Box 2 contains fragile materials and is closed.

Dates: 1870 - 1937; Majority of material found within 1913 - 1917