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John Boyle O'Reilly

John Boyle O'Reilly (28 June 1844 – 10 August 1890) was an Irish-American poet, journalist, author and activist. As a youth in Ireland, he was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or Fenians, for which he was transported to Western Australia. After escaping to the United States, he became a prominent spokesperson for the Irish community and culture, through his editorship of the Boston newspaper The Pilot, his prolific writing, and his lecture tours.

Born in Dowth, O'Reilly moved to his aunt's residence in England as a teenager and became involved in journalism and shortly after became involved in the military. He, however, left the military in 1863 after becoming angry with the military's treatment of the Irish, and returned to Ireland the same year. In 1864 he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood under an assumed name and was part of the group for two years until he and many others were arrested by authorities in early 1866. After a mock trial the same year he was sentenced to death which was later commuted to 20 years' penal servitude. In 1867 O'Reilly was transported to Western Australia and moved to the town of Bunbury where he escaped two years later. He was assisted in escaping by a Fr. Patrick, McCabe from Arnaghan, Gowna, Co. Cavan.

After the escape O'Reilly moved to Boston and embarked on a successful writing and journalism career that produced works such as Moondyne (1879) and Songs from the Southern Seas (1873), and poems such as The Cry of the Dreamer and The White Rose and In Bohemia. He married Mary Murphy in 1872 and had four daughters. In the last 4 years of his life he suffered various health issues before dying of an overdose in his summer home in Hull, Massachusetts in 1890. His memorial service held at Tremont Temple was a major public event.

O'Reilly's literature and work with civil rights have been celebrated throughout the years.

Birth and Death Data: Born June 28th, 1844 (County Meath), Died August 10th, 1890 (Boston)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1906 - 1916

Roles Represented in DAHR: author


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-3273 10-in. 4/12/1906 In Bohemia Edgar L. Davenport Recitation author  
Columbia 4916 10-in. ca. 1910 In Bohemia Edgar L. Davenport Dramatic recitation author  
Edison 4651 10-in. 4/11/1916 In Bohemia Edgar L. Davenport Recitation author  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "O'Reilly, John Boyle," accessed November 25, 2020,

O'Reilly, John Boyle. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from

"O'Reilly, John Boyle." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 25 November 2020.

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