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Boston College collection of John Boyle O'Reilly

 Collection
Collection MS-2004-093: Boston College collection of John Boyle O'Reilly

Dates

  • 1857 - 1981
  • 1870 - 1924

Scope and Contents

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 artifacts, correspondence, hand-written poems, sheet music for the musical setting of two of O'Reilly's poems, and the scrapbooks he assembled to document his literary career. O'Reilly's correspondence is mostly on letterhead from The Pilot and generally relates to his editorial work, but also covers his political concerns. Of note are his ongoing correspondence with George Cahill, Jeremiah Rossa O'Donovan, and Francis Henry Underwood; there is also a letter O'Reilly received from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Amongst his writings, highlights are a bound, corrected manuscript of his epic poem "America" and a published 1879 speech he gave to the Boston Press Club.

The collection also contains materials by others concerning O'Reilly, including a biographical manuscript; correspondence by his peers; manuscript and published articles; speeches; and tributes by Massachusetts organizations to which he belonged.

Creator

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical Note

John Boyle O'Reilly was born in Dowth, near Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, on June 28, 1844. He was the second of eight children born to William David O'Reilly and Eliza Boyle. At about age eleven he began an apprenticeship at the printing office of the Drogheda Argus when his elder brother became too sick to hold the position. O'Reilly spent his later teens in Preston, England, where he was an apprenticed reporter for The Guardian and joined the Lancashire Rifle Volunteers. Upon his return to Ireland at age nineteen he became a trooper with the Tenth Hussars.

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, after a year as a prisoner in Australia, with the help of Father Patrick McCabe, 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.

O'Reilly wrote as well as edited. 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, at the age of 46, of an overdose of sleeping medication.

Sources:

"The Boston Irish Reporter." The Ancient Order of Hibernians of Massachusetts, June 1991. Conway, Katherine E. "John Boyle O'Reilly." The Catholic Encyclopedia. 2003: Vol. XI.

"John Boyle O’Reilly." LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. 2003, 2004.

Extent

6.5 Linear Feet (8 containers)

Language of Materials

English

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 to which he belonged.

Arrangement

Arranged in two series: Series I. Created or collected by O'Reilly, and Series II. About O'Reilly.

Series I is further arranged into five subseries: A. Artifacts, B. Correspondence, C. Manuscripts, D. Printed materials, and E. Scrapbooks.

Series II is arranged into four subseries: A. Biographic materials, B. Correspondence, C. Marble bust, and D. Rock from Dowth churchyard.

Provenance

Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time. However, records on file indicate that much of the material was received from the Eire Society of Boston. Additional known gifts include letters donated by Louis J. Rouleaux, (1951) and Thomas M. Harkins and Paul J. McCarty.

Related Materials

George D. Cahill papers, MS.1993.041, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

M.J. Jordan papers,MS.1993.015, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Mary Boyle O'Reilly papers, MS.2003.045, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Separated Materials

Published works associated with this collection have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

Title
Boston College Collection of John Boyle O'Reilly
Subtitle
1857-1981 (bulk 1870-1924)
Status
Completed
Author
Lynn Moulton
Date
2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

Contact:
John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States
617-552-4861