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Martin A. O'Brennan Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-O'Brennan

Scope and Content of the Collection

Accounts and receipts, legal documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed material and ephemeral items, and writings and speeches pertaining to or written by Martin A. O’Brennan. The bulk of material is comprised of correspondence addressed to O’Brennan.


  • Creation: approximately 1843-1878



Materials are primarily in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Martin A. O'Brennan Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Martin A. O’Brennan Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Martin A. O'Brennan

Irish nationalist, activist, lawyer, newspaper editor, and amateur historian.

Born in 1812 in County Mayo, Ireland, and educated at St. Jarlath’s College in Tuam, Martin A. O’Brennan came to Dublin around 1836, where he graduated from Trinity College. He quickly became active in the repeal and temperance movements, joined the Irish Tenant League, and preached Irish economic self-sufficiency, supporting the movement to expand flax cultivation. Interested in Irish history and language, he wrote Antiquities of Ancient Ireland (F 0242 .638) in 1858. That same year, O’Brennan returned to Tuam where he founded the Connaught Patriot and Tuam Advertiser, a Catholic, nationalist paper. O’Brennan was charged with sedition in1865, pled guilty, and was released, only to be rearrested in 1866. He left Ireland for London, where he started another newspaper, the Irish News, and published four issues before the paper was seized in April, 1867.

Leaving his wife and eight children behind, he then emigrated to the United States, and lived briefly in Providence, R.I., and Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving on to Chicago. Gradually the family was reunited, and O’Brennan eked out a living by lecturing, teaching the Irish language, and practicing law. He remained in contact with like-minded men, both in Ireland and in the émigré communities of Toronto and Melbourne, Australia. O’Brennan died in 1878, after fracturing his leg in an accident in Chicago.


2.6 Linear Feet (3 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Papers pertaining to Martin A. O’Brennan, an Irish nationalist activist, lawyer, newspaper editor, and amateur historian. The papers document O’Brennan’s Irish activities and his life in Chicago through correspondence and documents, manuscript copies of his speeches, printed pamphlets and copies of newspapers (both the Connaught Patriot and the Irish News), and ephemera-like advertisements, prospectuses, membership cards and printed lecture tickets.


Materials arranged alphabetically.

Collection Stack Location

1 30 7; 1 37 1


Gift, Michael S. Gibbons, 2015.

Processed by

Elizabeth McKinley, 2015.

Inventory of the Martin A. O’Brennan Papers, approximately 1843-1878
Elizabeth McKinley
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States