Skip to Main Content

Michael O'Brien (Fenian) Collection: Item Description

Michael O'Brien (Fenian): Item Description

The Michael O'Brien (Fenian) Collection has been fully catalogued and is listed below.

If you find material relevant to your research, please note the call number(s) and click here to arrange an appointment to visit.


1.   14 Nov 1867

Copy mss letter from Michael O’Brien, New Bailey Prison, Salford, England to his brother mainly discussing his trial, his thoughts on his death sentence and his views on the Irish cause and struggle for independence from England. In relation to his trial, he writes that “the trial and all connected with it was unfair from beginning to end”. He refers to a “prejudiced jury” and “perjured witnesses” for finding him guilty. He writes also “they believe me guilty of being a citizen of the United states, a friend to liberty...and no friend to the British government”. O’Brien comments on his death sentence “I cannot regret dying in the case of liberty and Ireland. It has been made clear to me by the sufferings of its people by the martyrdom and exile of its best and noblest sons.” He writes “why should I shrink from death in a cause made holy and glorious by the number of its martyrs and heroism of supporters”. He mentions the recent death of Peter O’Neill Crowley and asks his brother not to forget him as he died in the cause for Irish freedom. O’Brien goes on to discuss his thoughts and principles on the Irish cause with reference to people suffering for the cause “let no man think a cause is lost because some suffer for it, it is only a proof that those who suffer are in earnest and should be an incentive to others to be equally so to do their duty with firmness and disinterestedness I feel confident of my ultimate success of the Irish cause”. He refers to the death of James Fitzgerald and Robert Emmet and the sufferings of William Smith O’Brien, Michael Joseph Barry and John Mitchel. O’Brien refers his impending death in relation to his family “there is no necessity for my father, mother, brothers, sisters & relations fretting about me...I leave a world of sufferings for one of eternal joy and happiness.”