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James O'Brien collection of Emerald Isle Classic material

Collection BC-2007-012: James O'Brien collection of Emerald Isle Classic material


  • Creation: 1986-1991

Scope and Contents

The collection, compiled by James O’Brien, documents the Emerald Isle Classic – planning, game, related and subsequent events – through correspondence, photographs, ephemera, and clippings. Some material concerns Dublin’s millennium celebration. Correspondents include Ben Briscoe, Lord Mayor of Dublin; William J. Flynn, Boston College's Director of Athletics; Margaret Heckler, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland; J. Donald Monan, SJ, President of Boston College; and Carl Ullrich, West Point's Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.


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: James S. O'Brien

James S. O'Brien attended Boston College and graduated from the College of Business Administration in 1960. While a student at Boston College, he played football and was considered an exceptional offensive and defensive tackle, earning both All-New England and All-East honors. In a 1959 All-American Bowl game, he was selected “Outstanding Lineman.” He was drafted by both the Detroit Lions (NFL) and the Oakland Raiders (AFL), but his professional career was shortened by injuries. O’Brien was primarily responsible for organizing the Emerald Isle Classic, an American college football game played in Ireland in 1988; he received the P.V. Doyle Tourism Award from the President of Ireland the following year. In 1993, O’Brien was inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame.

At the time of the Emerald Isle Classic, he was the president of the Brian Boru Corporation in Scituate, Massachusetts. Since then, he has been involved with a variety of companies and institutions including Synergy Real Estate Investment, Development (Boston), Massachusetts Special Olympics, Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the U.S., and on the Board of the Newman School (Boston).


College football reference: Jim O'Brien. (accessed April 10, 2007).

Player Bio: Jim O’Brien. Boston College Official Athletic Site. (accessed 2010 June 16).

Sub Turri. 1960. (Boston College yearbook).

Historical Note: The Emerald Isle Classic

The Emerald Isle Classic football game was played in Dublin, Ireland between Boston College and West Point Academy (“Army”) in November, 1988. Boston College alumnus James O’Brien was primarily responsible for envisioning and organizing the Emerald Isle Classic. It took nearly three years to make the idea a reality. Boston College won the game, beating Army 38 to 24.

The game was the first major NCAA game in Europe and was attended by over 42,000 fans. Of these attendees, an estimated 10,000 travelled from the United States, 7,000 of whom were likely from the Boston area. Although originally conceived as an annual event, limited attendance in 1989 caused it to be discontinued.


Steve Lohr, Special to The New York Times. "Dubliners Cheer as B.C. Wins: Dubliners Delighted as B.C. Wins." New York Times (1923-Current File), November 20, 1988.(accessed on ProQuest June 16, 2010).


2 Linear Feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



The material collected by Boston College alumnus James O’Brien documents the Emerald Isle Classic college football game in 1988. Contains correspondence, photographs, ephemera, and clippings. Some material also concerns Dublin’s millennium celebration.


Collection is arranged in four series: I. Planning; II. Game day; III. Follow-up; and IV. Related events.


Gift of James S. O'Brien in 2007.

Processing Information

Materials were originally received in one photo album and one briefcase, with some loose materials and some laid in photo album pages with plastic covers. These were disassembled. For the most part, with the exception of some color and special sections, clippings have been photocopied for preservation and the originals discarded.

James O'Brien Collection of Emerald Isle Classic Material
Elizabeth Galoozis, spring 2007; Matthew Heitzman, summer 2007; Rachael Young
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States