Identity Statement for William Smith O’Brien

  • Reference code: IE UCDA LA23
  • Title: Volume of William Smith O’Brien (1803–64)
  • Dates: 1848
  • Level of description:
  • Extent: 155pp
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use

Biographical History

William Smith O'Brien was born at Dromoland Castle, County Clare on 17 October 1803. He was educated at Harrow and then at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1825 he became the Conservative MP for Ennis, County Clare and had an uneasy relationship with Daniel O'Connell, leader of the Catholic Association. In 1835 he was elected Conservative MP for County Limerick, despite the opposition of O'Connell and the Catholic Vicar-General of the Limerick Diocese. His views changed, however, and by 1844 he was part of the Repeal movement, and became a leading member of the Young Irelanders. He also founded the Irish Confederation in 1847 along with Sir Charles Gavan Duffy and Daniel O'Connell. Many leaders of the Confederation were arrested shortly afterwards. O'Brien, who was released when the charges against him failed, decided on an armed uprising in 1848 in Ballingarry, County Tipperary. O'Brien was arrested and sentenced to death at his trial, which was commuted to penal servitude for life in Tasmania. He served five years and was released after much petitioning in 1854 on the condition that he stay outside the United Kingdom. He spent many years in both Poland and the United States. The condition was removed in 1856 and he returned to Ireland, remaining removed from political life. He died in Bangor, Wales on 16 June 1864.


Scope and Content

Copy of France and England: a vision of the future (8th ed., 1848) presented to D. O’Connor by a friend as a Christmas gift, and autographed by three prisoners in the Richmond Bridewell, including William Smith O’Brien. Inscribed ‘This little volume the leaves of which were cut and read by W.S. O’Brien Esq’.


  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in original format. Original material will be retrieved at 11am and 2pm only.
  • Language: English