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Kathleen O'Brien

Waterford's Revolutionary Women 1916-1922

24. Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'BrienConna, Tallow

Kathleen O'Brien was born in 1886. Her parents were Robert O'Brien and Mary O'Brien, nee Clancy, from Tallow, where Kathleen spent much of her youth. She had 12 surviving siblings. Her father was born in Mountbell, Killeagh and her mother was originally from Frankfurt, near Curraglas.  The family had been evicted from the original marital home in Conna because of Robert O'Brien's involvement with the Land League. Kathleen had been born in this house. Her father was a drinker and led the family into serious debt. Kathleen went to primary school locally, but, due to assistance from her father's sister, who was a Good Shepherd nun, she went to secondary school in France. She then moved to England, where she became secretary to the managing director of Harrod's. She met and became engaged to Sean Hurley, a cousin and best friend of Michael Collins. Hurley was killed in the GPO during Easter Week. Kathleen then returned to Cork in 1919, working in Ford's as a secretary.

She became involved in Cumann na mBan in Cork. Her name is mentioned in the Cumann na mBan records for Cork in the Cork museum. Kathleen went on her first hunger strike in protest at Terence McSwiney's imprisonment. She took the republican side during the Civil War and was subsequently imprisoned in Kilmainham. She was on another hunger strike for 19 days. She collected autographs and messages from her fellow prisoners and maintained a correspondence on political matters with the McSwiney sisters and others while in Kilmainham.

After the war, she married Tim Daly and settled in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. She died in 1960. Kathleen is grandaunt to Muireann Ní Dhomhnaill, An Rinn, County Waterford.

Source: Muireann Ní Dhomhnaill, An Rinn, County Waterford.

Author: Chrissy O'Connor Knight & Eddie Cantwell

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