The Annual Noel O’Connell Memorial Lecture, a joint venture of the Irish Literary Society and Irish Texts Society will be delivered by Dr. Mary MacDiarmada on ‘Art O’Brien and Irish Nationalism in London, 1900-25’.
London-born and reared, Art O’Brien’s journey from wealthy electrical engineer to leader of Irish militant nationalism in London was, by any measure, quite extraordinary. In her talk and in the book on which it is based MacDiarmada uses the life of O’Brien (1872–1949) as a central axis on which to construct an analysis of Irish nationalism in London from 1900 to 1925.
Shedding light on the work of the ‘presiding genius’ of the Irish movement in London [this] publication of Art O’Brien and Irish Nationalism in London 1900-25 by Dr Mary MacDiarmada is a long overdue biography of one of the most fascinating characters of the Irish revolution …Ronan McGreevy (Irish Times, October 2020)
O’Brien was a member of the Gaelic League, Sinn Féin, the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Self-Determination League of Great Britain. He also established a prisoner relief organization and had significant involvement in gun-running for the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence. Appointed London envoy of Dáil Éireann in 1919, he was a close confidant of Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith and Éamon de Valera and was a mediator in various peace initiatives between the British and Sinn Féin during 1920 and 1921. Yet, despite his extensive contribution to the Irish revolution, little is known of O’Brien’s activities.
Based on rigorous research in British and Irish archives, MacDiarmada recounts the vital contribution O’Brien made to the prosecution of the Irish revolution. The talk will also recount the hitherto little-known story of Irish cultural, political and militant nationalism in London between 1900 and 1925.
Image credit: Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney (left) and Art O’Brien (right) congratulating JJ O’Kelly (centre) on his re-election as President of the Gaelic League at the Mansion House in Dublin in August 1920. Photo: National Library of Ireland, NPA POLF 170