Skip to main content

Alphonsus Sweeney collection of Seumas O'Kelly

Collection MS-1999-018: Alphonsus Sweeney collection of Seumas O'Kelly


  • Creation: 1919-1980

Scope and Contents

The collection contains materials about Seumas O'Kelly, an Irish journalist and writer, collected by his nephew Alphonsus Sweeney. Materials include Sweeney’s correspondence regarding O'Kelly's life and work as well as O’Kelly’s short stories, novellas, plays, and radio plays. Some of his writings are in the form of typscripts and galley proofs. Of special note is a letter to Sweeney from the Irish literary figure Padraig Colum. Other materials about O’Kelly include lectures and articles.


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

Seumas O’Kelly was most likely born sometime between 1875 and 1878 in Loughrea in County Galway, Ireland. The youngest of seven or eight children, O’Kelly’s family was successful in the milling and corn transportation industries. O’Kelly received a minimal education at John Furry’s Hedge School, and served as an Acolyte in the Abbey Church of the local Carmelite Monastery.

O’Kelly worked as an editor and journalist for a variety of publications throughout his career and became editor of The Southern Star in 1903. His journalistic and creative work brought him into the same circles as men with whom he formed lifelong friendships, including the writer James O’Sullivan, and Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Fein. O’Kelly joined the Sinn Fein chapter in Naas, Ireland around 1907, and brought his father, sister, and nephew, Alphonsus Sweeney, to live with him.

O’Kelly’s creative work included plays, short stories, prose, and verse. His first play The Matchmakers, was produced by the Theater of Ireland in 1907 and other well-known works include The Weaver’s Grave, The Leprechaun of Kilmeen, The Shuiler's Child and The Bribe. On November 14, 1918, he was found unconscious in his office at the Sinn Fein newspaper Nationality where he was then rushed to the hospital and later died.


Saul, George B. Seumas O’Kelly. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, 1971 “Seumas O’Kelly.” Dictionary of Irish Literature


.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



The collection contains materials about Seumas O'Kelly, an Irish journalist and writer, collected by his nephew Alphonsus Sweeney. It includes Sweeney's correspondence regarding O'Kelly's life, as well as works by O'Kelly such as short stories and radio plays. It also has lectures and articles about O'Kelly.


Organized into three series: I. Correspondence; II. Manuscripts; and, III. About O'Kelly.


Purchased from De Burca Rare Books in 1999.

Alphonsus Sweeney Collection of Seumas O'Kelly
Neil Zuber, Fall 1999; 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