Conor Cruise O’Brien (1917-2008)

[Donal Conor David Dermot Donough Francis Sheehy Skeffington Cruise O’Brien;] b. 3 Nov. 1917, at 44 Leinster Rd., Rathgar, Dublin; son of Francis [“Frank”] Cruise O’Brien (m. 1 Oct. 1911; d. Dec. 1927), a journalist on Freeman’s Journal and Irish Independent, and Kathleen O’Brien (née Katherine Sheehy, the presumed model for Miss Ivors in Joyce’s story “The Dead”); thus grandson of David Sheehy, Nationalist MP from 1885-1918, and a nephew of Fr. Eugene Sheehy - also related by marriage to Thomas Kettle; suffers death of father, 25 Dec. 1927; educ. Sandford Park School, Dublin at his agnostic father’s request following his death - his mother being Catholic; learned from a Northern-Irish teacher there that the Protestants of Northern Ireland were Unionst by choice, not by UK government bamboozle; grad. TCD (BA, PhD) where he shared Front Square rooms with Vivian Mercier, both TCD scholars; ed. TCD, the college journal; afterwards associated with The Bell; m. Christine Foster, dg. of Ulster school-teacher and member of a Presbyterian nationalist family and related to Robert Lynd, 1932, and with whom three children, Donal, Fidelma and Kate;
entered Civil Service on second exam attempt; appt. administrative officer in Dept. of Finance, 1942; promoted to First Secretary in Dept. of External Affairs under Seán MacBride, 1944; wrote articles as pseud. Donat O’Donnell, 1945-61; edited Foreign Affairs broadsheet Eire, dealing largely with anti-partitional propaganda, from 1949; established and managed Irish News Agency 1950; issued Maria Cross (1952), a study of chiefly French Catholic authors, including an essay on Sean O’Faolain; as Donat O’Donnell [pseud.] he wrote up theatrical fracas surrounding O’Casey’s Bishop’s Bonfire for New Statesman, stinging O’Casey into a reply, 1955; served as Counsellor, Paris Embassy, 1955-56;
appt. head of UN section (Ireland having entered in that year), and member of Irish Delegation at UN 1956-60; sent to Elizabethsville as representative for Dag Hammarskjöld in Katanga [the Congo], May 1961, after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba (‘there is no doubt that Hammarskjold could have saved Lumumba from his fate’); ordered UN resistance to Moise Tshombe forces in break-away Katanga undertaking to end the secession of Katanga, and made controversial statements indicting Britain and colonial powers; forced to resign from UN, Dec. 1961; joined in Elizabethville by Máire Mac an tSaoi; published To Katanga and Back (1962) [ded. ‘For Maire’]; Vice-Chanc. Ghana Univ., 1962-65, under Kwame Nkrumah;
m. Máire MacEntee following a Mexican divorce from Christine (assoluta incompatabilitad), New York 1962; adopted two Ghanese children, Margaret and Patrick; appt. to Schweitzer Chair of Humanities, NYU, 1965-69 - while calling Schweitzer "‘a tragic anachronism [who represented] the most noxious aspects of the white man in Africa’; joined protests against the Vietnam War; gave public lecture at QUB (‘Civil Rights: The Crossroads’), Oct. 1968; gave NYU valedictory lecture, ‘What Exhortation?’ (23 April 1969); edited Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1969) for Penguin, arguing that Whiggish support for the revolution in England awakened ‘within that reasonable elderly Whig, a slumbering Jacobite’; Labour TD, Howth, 1969; his play Murderous Angels produced at Mark Tapir Forum, Los Angeles, Jan. 1970; elected for Labour to second seat in North-East Dublin (Charles Haughey being the first elected TD), and served as Labour spokesman on Northern Ireland; attacked, knocked down and kicked in St. Columb’s Park, while attending an Apprentice Boy Rally as observer, 12th Aug. 1970;
issued States of Ireland (1972), challenging nationalist mythologies in regard to Ulster [Northern Ireland] - including John Hume prominently among his targets; gave lect. on topic of ‘Ireland, Its Past and Future: The Future’, in Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders Ser., at Institute of Race Relations, (Carleton Hse., London), in tandem with another on “The Past” given by Nicholas Mansergh, 2 March 1972; sought Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but served as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in Liam Cosgrave’s Fine Gael/Labour Coalition, 1973-77; earlier disparaged Labour as ‘tawdry paltroons’ but showed unflagging loyalty to the premier and his party leaders Brendan Corish and Frank Cluskey (who manoeuvred him out of the party); publ. ‘An Unhealthy Intersection’, in The New Review (July 1975); devised solution to technical crisis in P&T, implemented after he left office; notoriously extended Section 31 of Broadcasting Authority Act (emended by Gerry Collins, FF Min. of P&T, in 1971) to prohibit Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin from gaining access to air-waves, 1977 [remained in law until 1995];
lost seat by overwhelming vote in election, 1977; winner of an Irish Times poll as to whom readers would least like to see running the country, May 1977; appt. ed.-in-chief. of Observer, 1979-81 [aetat 65; err. 1977-80], dismissed Mary Holland in view of her Northern Ireland reportage, writing of her misunderstanding of Ulster Catholics in a column defending his decision; encountered opposition from the Journalists’ Union; ended his editorship ended when he compared the new owner Roland Walter (“Tiny”) Rowland of Lonhro Mining as an unsuitable proprietor for the newspaper - by which time Donald Trelford was editor; regularly contributing editor of The Atlantic (Boston); contributed to Crane Bag issue on ‘Minorities in Ireland’, dealing with the treatment of minorities in the South; gave Ewart-Biggs Memorial Lecture (Neighbours, 1980) - invoking analogy of Euripides’ Antigone in context of Northern Ireland crisis, 1980; his newspaper defence of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon coincided with massacres in Shatra and Shatila, 1982; went on to issue The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism (1986), considered by many uncritically partisan to the Jewish State - ending his friendship with Edward Said;
issued Memoir (1988), warning Unionists of need to negotiate their place in a nationalist Ireland; published his ‘commented anthology’ of Edmund Burke as The Great Melody (1992), emphasising the ‘Irish layer’ in his personality and his thought involving the ideas of wound and guilt for his father’s apostasy and attributing to Burke a suppressed sympathy with revolution; disparaged by E. P. Thompson as a study of ‘Conor O’Burke’; gave 2nd Ian Gow Memorial Lecture, 1992; highly antagonistic towards John Hume’s talks with Sinn Féin, 1993; took a seat in Northern Ireland convention as member of UK Unionist Party associated with Robert McCartney, 1996; reported in Irish Times as saying in the sequel that if the talks did not progress in the light of the gains made by Sinn Féin, then the Unionist party was responsible (Irish Times, 2 June 1996); gave verbal support to the stand made by Ian Paisley in resisting the Northern Ireland Agreement of April 1998;  suffered a mild stroke, 1988; issued A Collection of Poems (2003); d. 19 Dec. 2008; notices incl. an obituary by Brian Fallon (Guardian); and an article by President Mary McAleese (Irish Times). DIW DIL FDA OCIL

See Conor Cruise O’Brien interviewed in by Harry Kreisler “Conversations with History” series, at Institute of International Studies (UC Berkeley, California), 4 April 2000 - YouTube; accessed 26.08.2016.

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Monographs & Pamphlets
  • [as Donat O’Donnell], Maria Cross: Imaginative Patterns in a Group of Modern Catholic Writers (NY & Toronto: OUP 1952; London: Chatto & Windus 1953), viii, 267pp., and Do., [rep. under own name] (1962) [extract].
  • Parnell and His Party 188-1890 (OUP 1957), xii, 373pp., leaf of pls.
  • To Katanga and Back: A UN Case History (London: Hutchinson 1962; NY: Schuster & Schuster 1962), and Do. (NY: Grosset & Dunlap 1966), [10], 370p, 4 pls., ills., maps, ports. [extract].
  • Writers and Politics: Essays and Criticism (NY: Pantheon; London: Chatto & Windus 1965; Penguin 1976), 318pp.; Do. [new edn.], with appreciation by Oliver Kamm (Penguin 2015), 288pp. [available online accessed 29.01.2023].
  • ed., The Shaping of Modern Ireland [Thomas Davis Lects., 1955-56] (London: Routledge Kegan & Paul 1960), 201pp., and Do. [rep. edn.] (NY: Barnes & Noble 1970), vi, 201pp. [contents].
  • Conflicting Concepts of the United Nations (1964).
  • Murderous Angels: a political tragedy [?] in black and white (Boston: Little Brown 1968; London: Hutchinson 1969).
  • with Felix Topolski, The United Nations, Sacred Drama (Hutchinson 1968; NY: Schuster & Schuster 1968), 320pp., ill.
  • ed. with William Dean Vanech, Power and Consciousness (OUP 1969), 9, 243pp.
  • ed. Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (Penguin 1969) [with 20,000 word intro.].
  • Dudley Edwards, ed., Conor Cruise O’Brien Introduces Ireland (London: André Deutsch 1969) [among other authors].
  • Camus (Fontana Collins 1970), 94pp., in US as Albert Camus of Europe and Africa (NY: Viking 1970).
  • ‘What Exhortation?’, in Irish University Review (Spring/Summer 1971), pp.48-61.
  • with Máire Cruise O’Brien [Máire Mac an tSaoi], A Concise History of Ireland (London: Thames & Hudson 1972), in US as The Story of Ireland (NY: Viking 1972).
  • States of Ireland (London: Hutchinson 1972), 336pp. [extract].
  • What Rights Should Minorities Have? [first lect. of The Minorities Rights Group (1972).
  • The Suspecting Glance [Univ. of Kent, T S Eliot Memorial Lecture 1969] (London: Faber 1972), 91pp.
  • Herod: Reflections on Political Violence (London: Hutchinson 1978), 236pp. [incls. playscripts ‘Herod Explains’, ‘Salome and the Wild Man’ and ‘King Herod Advises’].
  • The Northern Connection in Irish-British Relations [Lect. to Irish Association at QUB, Fri. 23 June 1978].
  • The Press and the World [Haldene Mem. Lect.] (London Univ.: Birbeck Coll. 1980).
  • Neighbours: The Ewart-Biggs Memorial Lectures, 1979-1980 (London: Faber 1980), 96pp. [contents].
  • Edmund Burke the Master of English (London: English Assoc. Presidential Addresses 1981), 12pp.
  • Why Did the Irish Want Home Rule? [video recording; hist. ser.] (London: Sussex video 1981).
  • Religion and Politics [10th Annual Convocation Lect., 9 May 1983 (NUU 1983).
  • God Land: Reflections on Religion and Nationalism [William E. Massey Snr. Lectures on in the History of American Civilisation] (Harvard UP 1988), viii, 97pp., and Do. [rep. edn.] (NY: toExcel 1999), viii, 97pp.
  • Passion and Cunning and Other Essays (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1988), 293pp. [contents}.
  • God’s Land, Reflections on Religion and Nationalism [William Massey Lectures in History of American Civilization] (Harvard UP 1988), viii, 97pp.
  • The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism (1985; Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1986), 798pp., index [notes from 663].
  • Edmund Burke, The Great Melody: A Commented Biography (London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1992), 788pp. [xvi, 629pp.+notes; ills.], and Do., abridged by Jim McCue, as Edmund Burke (New Island Books; Sinclair-Stevenson 1997), pp.356.
  • Ancestral Voices: Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (Dublin: Poolbeg Press 1994), 197pp., and Do. (Chicago UP 1995), 221pp.
  • On the Eve of the Millennium [lectures delivered in Toronto] (Martin Kessler/Free Press [Simon & Schuster] 1996).
  • The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution 1785-1800 (Chicago UP; London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1996), 480[353, 367]pp., Do. (London: Pimlico 1998), 400pp.
  • Memoir: My Life and Themes (Dublin: Poolbeg 1998), 460pp.
Selected Articles
  • ‘Burke and Marx’, in New American Review, Vol. I, No. 1 (1966).‘
  • Passion and Cunning: An Essay on the Politics of W. B. Yeats’, in A. N. Jeffares & K. G. W. Cross, eds., In Excited Reverie In Excited Reverie: A Centenary Tribute to William Butler Yeats 1865-1939 (London: Macmillan 1965), pp.207-77.
  • ‘Nationalism and the French Revolution’, in The Permanent Revolution: The French Revolution and Its Legacy, ed. Geoffrey Best (Fontana 1988);
  • ‘Ireland and International Affairs’, in Owen D. Edwards, ed., Conor Cruise O’Brien Introduces Ireland (London 1969).
  • ‘Civil Rights: The Crossroads’, in The Listener (24 Oct. 1968), “Views” [QUB lecture], rev. in States of Ireland: The Politics of Polarisation (London: Hutchinson 1972), pp.147-52.
  • ‘Northern Ireland, Its Past and Its Future: The Future’, in Race, 14:1 (July 1972) [twinned with Nicholas Mansergh, ‘Northern Ireland, Its Past and Its Future: The Past’ - available at Sage Journals - online; accessed 04.11.2023].
  • ‘The Embers of Easter 1916-1966’, in Owen Dudley Edwards & Fergus Pyle, eds., 1916: The Easter Rising (London 1968).
  • ‘Edmund Burke and the American Revolution’, in America and Ireland 1776-1976, The American Identity and the Irish Connection [US Bicentennial Conference of Cumann Merriman, Ennis, August 1976], ed David Noel Doyle & Owen Dudley Edwards (Greenwood Press [q.d.]); also in Scotland, Europe and the American Revolution, in New Edinburgh Review [collection], ed. O. D. Edwards & George Shepperson (Edinburgh 1976).
  • ‘Warren Hastings in Burke’s Great Melody’, in Geoffrey Carnall & Colin Nicholson, eds., The Impeachment of Warren Hastings: Papers from a Bicentenary Commemoration (Edin. UP 1988).
  • ‘Eradicating the Tragic Heroic Mode’, in The Irish Times (22 Aug. 1975), p.10.
  • ‘Politics and the Poet’, in The Irish Times (21 Aug. 1975).
  • ‘An Unhealthy Intersection’, in The New Review (July 1975), pp.3-8.
  • with David Caute, Stuart Hampshire and E. J. Hobsbawm, ‘The Bombings: Four Views: Responses to the question “Does a Political Cause Ever Give Us the Right to Kill?”’, in The New Review (March 1976), pp.3-10.
  • ‘Ireland Will Not Have Peace’, in Harpers, Vol. 253, No. 1519 (Dec. 1976), pp.33-42.
  • ‘Liberalism in Ireland’, in Sunday Press (25 Sept. 1977), p.2.
  • ‘Nationalism and the Reconquest of Ireland’, in The Crane Bag, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1977), pp.8-13.
  • ‘Decade of Violence’ [first of two charting the course of Northern Ireland’s tragic conflict], in The Sunday Times (19 Aug 1979).
  • ‘The Nationalist Trend’, in Times Literary Supplement (1 Nov. 1985).
  • ‘Ireland: The Mirage of Peace’, in New York Review of Books (21 April 1986).
  • ‘Micks and Prods’, review of New Oxford Book of Irish Verse, ed. Thomas Kinsella, in The Observer (8 June 1986), p.25.
  • ‘The Power of a Nation’s Ghosts’ [2nd extract from Ancestral Voices, 1994], in Sunday Independent (23 Oct. 1994 ).
  • with Edward W. Said & John Lukacs, ‘The Intellectual in the Post-Colonial World: Response and Discussion’, in Salmagundi, 70-71 (1986), pp.65-81.
  • Ancestral Voices: Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (Dublin: Poolbeg 1994), 197pp. [extract].
  • ‘My Time at Trinity College’, in The Recorder: Journal of the Irish American Historical Society, 13, 1 (Spring 2000), pp.7-37.
  • Introduction to ed., History and the Public Sphere: Essays in Honour of John A Murphy, ed. Tom Dunne & Laurence M. Geary (Cork UP 2005), 294pp.
See also remarks under Sean MacBride & Maud Gonne.
Forewords & prefaces to Jeffrey Praeger, Building Democracy in Ireland, Political Order and Cultural Integration in a Newly Independent Ireland, CUP 1986); Maurice O’Connell, Daniel O’Connell, the Man and his Politics (1989), with a foreword by Conor Cruise O’Brien; Frank Callanan , The Parnell Split 1890-91 (Cork UP 1992).

Lectures & Pamphlets: Ireland, the United Nations and Southern Africa: a public lecture delivered in Dublin, July 20th, 1967 (1967); Neighbours: Four Lectures in Memory of Christopher Ewart-Biggs ed. Thomas Packenham and intro. by Jane Ewart-Biggs (London: Faber & Faber 1980) [infra].

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Articles & reviews in the New York Review of Books, 1964-2000
  • 16 Dec. 1999: Buried Lives, review of The Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume I: The Origins of Empire: British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century by William Roger Louis editor-in-chief, edited by Nicholas Canny, and The Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume II: The Eighteenth Century by William Roger Louis editor-in-chief, edited by P.J. Marshall. See also see also ’The Darker Side’, reply by George M. Fredrickson (15 June 2000)
  • 7 Oct. 1993: ’A New Ireland?’.
  • 28 Jan. 1993: Burke’s Livery, response to Alan Ryan, review of The Great Melody (3 Dec. 1992).
  • 15 Aug. 1991: ’Nationalists and Democrats’.
  • 25 April 1991: Paradise Lost, review of The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy; see also reply by Richard T. Davies (5 Dec. 1991)
  • 22 Nov. 1990: ’Asad and Black September’. O’Brien’s response to Shaul Bakhash’s review of Seale’s Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East [27 Sept. 1990), and Bakhash’s reply to same.
  • 19 July 1990: A Tale of Two Nations, review of Ulster: Conflict and Consent by Tom Wilson
  • 15 Feb. 1990: The Decline and Fall of the French Revolution, review of A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution edited by François Furet, by Mona Ozouf, translated by Arthur Goldhammer; see also replies by Robin Blackburn (14 June 1990) and Lester G. Crocker, (28 June 1990), and and O’Brien’s response to each.
  • 27 April 1989: A Lost Chance to Save the Jews? See also Sheldon Avery and Jacques Kornberg’s replies and O’Brien’s sep. responses to each (October 26, 1989).
  • 22 Dec. 1988: The Election and the Future: A Symposium.
  • 24 Nov1988: Keeping Up with the Shaws, review of Bernard Shaw: Volume I, 1856-1898, The Search for Love by Michael Holroyd
  • 4 Feb. 1988: Nobs and Snobs, review of Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, 1903-1939 by Martin Stannard
  • 9 Oct. 1986: Trop de Zèle, review of The Bloody Crossroads: Where Literature and Politics Meet by Norman Podhoretz
  • 8 May 1986: Blood on the Border, review of Nothing Happens in Carmincross by Benedict Kiely; see also reply by William B. Goodman (the publisher), explaining why the pillar box on the cover is green (26 June 1986).
  • 24 April 1986: Ireland: The Mirage of Peace, review of Bobby Sands and the Tragedy of Northern Ireland by John M. Feehan
  • 10 Oct. 1985: The Liberal Pope
  • 26 Sept. 1985: Virtue & Terror
  • 11 April 1985: Odd Man Out, review of Breaking with Moscow by Arkady N. Shevchenko
  • 28 Feb. 1985: Wishful Thinking, review of The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951: Arab Nationalism, The United States, and Postwar Imperialism by William Roger Louis
  • 17 Jan. 1985: The Charms of Certitude, review of How Democracies Perish by Jean-François Revel, with the assistance of Branko Lazitch, translated by William Byron
  • 15 March 1984: Israel in Embryo, review of The High Walls of Jerusalem: A History of the Balfour Declaration and the Birth of the British Mandate for Palestine by Ronald Sanders. See also reply Ronald Sanders and response by O’Brien (June 14, 1984)
  • 29 Sept. 1983: International Episodes, review of Present History by Theodore Draper; see also reply by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. [‘ With characteristic intellectual dishonesty, Conor Cruise O’Brien ...’], and response by O’Brien (November 10, 1983)
  • 29 April 1982: Ireland: The Shirt of Nessus, review of Irish Nationalism: A History of Its Roots and Ideology by Sean Cronin
  • 5 Nov. 1982: How Long Can They Last?, review of Why South Africa Will Survive: A Historical Analysis by L.H. Gann, by Peter Duignan, and South Africa: Time Running Out Africa. The Report of the Study Commission on US Policy Toward Southern [Africa]; The Crisis in South Africa: Class Defense, Class Revolution by John S. Saul, by Stephen Gelb
  • 16 July 1981: Picture of Dorian Gray, review of The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman edited by Janet Morgan
  • 25 Oct. 1979: Waiting for Revolution, review of Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer
  • 27 Sept. 1979: South Africa: An Ominous Lull
  • 15 June 1978: Martyr, review of Biko by Donald Woods
  • 1 June 1978: Greene’s Castle, review of The Human Factor by Graham Greene
  • 23 March 1978: The Theater of Southern Africa
  • 9 March 1978: The End of White Rule?
  • 24 Nov. 1977: ’Elusive Mr. P.’, review of Charles Stewart Parnell by F.S. L. Lyons
  • 29 Sept. 1977: Two Edmund Burkes?, review of The Rage of Edmund Burke: Portrait of an Ambivalent Conservative by Isaac Kramnick
  • 15 Sept. 1977: Anti-Barbarian, review of The Gentle Barbarian: The Life and Work of Turgenev by V. S. Pritchett
  • 12 May 1977: The Anti-Politics of Simone Weil
  • 16 Sept. 1976: Reflections on Terrorism, review of On Revolt: Strategies of National Liberation by J. Bowyer Bell, and Transnational Terror DC/Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University by J. Bowyer Bell; Terrorists and Terrorism by Edward Hyams; Revolutionary Guerrilla Warfare edited by Sam C. Sarkesian, and Vigilante Politics edited by H. Jon Rosenbaum, edited by Peter C. Sederberg
  • 21 Feb. 1974: An Ulster Fable, review of World Without End, Amen by Jimmy Breslin; see also reply by Seamus Deane (30 May 1974) [copy].
  • 18 Oct. 1973: A Funny Sort of God, review of The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene, and Collected Stories by Graham Greene
  • 25 Jan. 1973: Ireland: Dying for Bones, review of The Green Flag: The Turbulent History of the Irish National Movement by Robert Kee; Towards a New Ireland by Garret FitzGerald
  • 2 Dec. 1971: Violence in Ireland: An Exchange [Paul O’Dwyer and Conor Cruise O’Brien]
  • 23 Sept. 1971: Violence in Ireland: Another Algeria?
  • 8 April 1971: Irish Troubles: The Boys in the Back Room
  • 5 Nov. 1970: The Gentle Nietzscheans
  • 29 Jan. 1970: America First
  • 6 Nov. 1969: Holy War
  • 9 Oct. 1969: Camus, Algeria, and ‘The Fall’.
  • 19 June 1969: The Committee to Defend the Conspiracy [with Benjamin Spock and others, protesting against arrest of demonstrators at Chicago Democratic Convention]
  • 19 June 1969: THE TECHNOCRATIC MIND [Letter by O’Brien in response to A Special Supplement: Reflections on Violence (February 27 1969), and reply by Hannah Arendt]
  • 22 May 1969: Biafra Revisited
  • 21 Nov 1968: Mission Impossible, review of ’The Other’ State Department: The United States Mission to the United Nations - Its Role in the Making of Foreign Policy by Arnold Beichman, with a Foreword by Leland M. Goodrich, and see reply by Arnold Beichman (January 16, 1969)
  • 7 Nov. 1968: Beware of Melancholy, review of Against the World: Attitudes of White South Africa by Douglas Brown; African Opposition in South Africa: The Failure of Passive Resistance by Edward Feit; The Separated People: A Look at Contemporary South Africa by E. J. Kahn Jr.; The Seeds of Disaster: A Guide to the Realities, Race Policies and World-wide Propaganda Campaigns of the Republic of South Africa by John Laurence; The Long View by Alan Paton, edited by Edward Callan, and Rhodesia: Crisis of Color edited by Theodore Bull of the Central African Examiner, with an Introduction by Gwendolen M. Carter. See also reply by Richard Falk (13 March 1969).
  • 20 June 1968: Confessions of the Last American, review of The Armies of the Night: History As Novel; The Novel As History by Norman Mailer
  • 9 May 1968: VIOLENCE IN OAKLAND [Letter with Alfred Kazan, James Baldwin, Richard Seaver, Susan Sontag, Terry Southern, Tom Hayden, et al.]
  • 25 April 1968: Satirical Pastoral, review of The Triumph: A Novel of Modern Diplomacy by John Kenneth Galbraith
  • 28 March 1968: How the UN Could End the War
  • 14 March 1968: PROTEST [Letter with Alan Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, John Ashbery, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Noam Chomsky, Norman Mailer, Paul Goodman, Robert Lowell, Susan Sontag, et. al., protesting trial of Soviet writers.]
  • 15 Feb. 1968: Bright Small Boy, The Blast of War 1939-45 by Harold Macmillan, and Macmillan: A Study in Ambiguity by Anthony Sampson
  • 21 Dec. 1967: A Condemned People [on Biafra]; and see response by Eugene Sungo [impugning conspiracy theory], with O’Brien’s reply (March 14, 1968).
  • 14 Sept. 1967: In Quest of Uncle Tom, review of Dublin: A Portrait by V.S. Pritchett, Photographs by Evelyn Hofer, and Irish Journal by Heinrich Böll
  • 29 June 1967: Two-faced Cathleen, review of The Imagination of an Insurrection: Dublin, Easter 1916 A Study of an Ideological Movement by William Irwin Thompson
  • 4 May 1967: TRUE CONFESSION? [Letter answering Meyer Shapiro’s reply his of 6 April. 1967].
  • 6 April 1967: HISS & CHAMBERS [Letter in response to Meyer Shapiro’s review of Zeligs’s Friendship and Fratricide, an Analysis of Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss (23 Feb. 1967) .
  • 15 Dec. 1966: Churchill and Macmillan, review of Winston S. Churchill, Vol. I., Youth 1974-1900 by Randolph S. Churchill;Winds of Change by Harold Macmillan
  • 23 June 1966: Changing the Guard, review of African Tightrope: My Two Years as Nkrumah’s Chief of Staff by Major-General H.T. Alexander; and see response by Ralph Banche (July 28, 1966).
  • 3 March 1966: IS HE IS OR IS HE AIN’T? [Letter in response to George Lichtheim’s review of Action Française, Italian Fascism, National Socialism (3 Feb. 1966)
  • 9 Dec. 1965: The Dylan Cult, review of The Life of Dylan Thomas by Constantine FitzGibbon, and Dylan Thomas and Poetic Dissociation by David Holbrook; see also reply by Constantine FitzGibbon (February 3, 1966).
  • 20 May 1965: A Long Engagement, review of Force of Circumstance by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Richard Howard
  • 11 March 1965: A Curious Queen, review of Queen Victoria by Elizabeth Longford
  • 19 Nov. 1964: The Perjured Saint, review of Cold Friday by Whittaker Chambers; see also reply by Broaddus Jones [on spelling of Tsargrad] (January 28, 1965).
  • 20 Aug. 1964: The Schweitzer Legend, review of Verdict on Schweitzer: The Man behind the Legend of Lambarene by Gerald McKnight
Source: New York Review of Books [online]; Conor Cruise O’Brien (author 210) [link]; accessed 9.04.2007.

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Bibliographical details
The Shaping of Modern Ireland (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1960), ed., Conor Cruise O’Brien. CONTENTS: Foreword, [I]; O’Brien, 1891-1916 [13]; ‘Stephens, Devoy, Tom Clarke’ [25]; Desmond Ryan, ‘John Redmond’ [38]; Myles Dillon, ‘Douglas Hyde’ [50]; Terence de Vere White, ‘Arthur Griffith’ [63]; David Greene, ‘Michael Cusack and The Rise of the G.A.A.’ [74]; R. B. McDowell, ‘Edward Carson’ [85]; Sir Shane Leslie, ‘Archbishop Walsh’ [98]; Brian Inglis, ‘Moran of The Leader and Ryan of The Irish Peasant’ [108]; Roger McHugh, Thomas Kettle and Francis Sheehy Skeffington [124]; Donald Davie, ‘The Young Yeats’ [140]; J. J. Byrne, ‘A.E. and Sir Horace Plunkett [152]; O’Brien, ‘Timothy Michael Healy [164]; R. D. C. Black, ‘William James Pirrie [172]; Dorothy Macardle, ‘James Connolly and Patrick Pearse’ [197].

Neighbours: Four Lectures in Memory of Christopher Ewart-Biggs /b> [British Ambassador to Ireland assassinated in 1976]; intro. Jane Ewart-Biggs, ed. Thomas Packenham (London: Faber 1980), 96pp., Contents: Introduction [9]; The Outlook from West to East [16]; One Aspect of Irish-British Relations [35]; The Northern Connection in Irish-British Relations; Ireland, Britain, America [58]; Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic: Attitudes, Options and a Positive Programme [78]. The lectures were delivered in Dublin (Jan. 1978), Belfast (June 1978), New York (Nov. 1978), and Oxford (Oct. 1979). ‘It was the Irish vision of England that villed Christopher Ewart-Biggs.’ (p.17.)

Passion and Cunning and Other Essays (NY: Simon & Schuster 1988), 293pp. CONTENTS: Introduction [1]; Passion and Cunning: An Essay on the Politics of W. B. Yeats [8]; Virtue and Terror: Rousseau and Robespierre [62]; The Liberal Pole: Pope John Paul II [73]; God and Man in Nicaragua [80]; What Can Become of South Africa? [122] South Africa and the Academic Boycott [169]; “The Irish Mind”: A Bad Case of Cultural Nationalism [192]; Bobby Sands: Mutations of Nationalism [199]; Ireland: The Shirt of Nessus [213]; Thinking About Terrorism: I [226]; Thinking About Terrorism: II [234]; Press Freedom and the Need to Please [238]; A Neo-Conservative Ideologue: Norman Podhoretz [247]; Three Zionists: Weizmann, Ben-Gurion, Katwelson [256]; The Fall of Africa [268]; States of the Union [277]; Index [283]. See further under Quotations, infra.)

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  • Seamus Deane, “Who Began the Killing?”, in The New York Review of Books (30 May 1974) - being a response to Conor Cruise O’Brien, “An Ulster Fable” [review of World Without End, Amen by Jimmy Breslin, in , NYRB, 21 Feb. 1974) [see extract].
  • D. R. Lysaght, End of a Liberal: The Literary Politics of Conor Cruise O’Brien [Dublin: Plough Books 1976], 56pp..
  • Elisabeth Young-Bruehl & Robert Hogan, ‘An Appraisal of Conor Cruise O’Brien’, in Journal of Irish Literature, III, 2 [Newark, Delaware: Proscenium] (May 1974), pp.3-47, with checklist compiled by Joanne L. Henderson [otherwise as a pamphlet, Newark, Delaware: Proscenium 1974).
  • Vincent Buckley, ‘Poetry and the Avoidance of Nationalism’ [a critique of Conor Cruise O’Brien], in Threshold, 32 [ed. Seamus Deane] (Winter 1982), pp.8-34.
  • W. J. McCormack, ‘The Mystery of the Clarity of Conor Cruise O’Brien’, in The Battle of the Books: Two Decades of Irish Cultural Debate (Dublin: Lilliput 1986), pp.19-20, et passim [see extract].
  • Donald Harman Akenson, Conor: A Biography of Conor Cruise O’Brien (McGill-Queen’s UP 1994), 574pp. [authorised biography].
  • Kevin Barry, review of The Great Melody, in Studies (Autumn 1993), pp.333-39.
  • Anthony J. Jordan, To Laugh or to Weep, A Biography of Conor Cruise O’Brien (Blackwater Press 1995), 267pp.
  • Des Hickey & Gus Smith [eds.,], ‘Cruise O’Brien: The playwright politician’ [interview] in A Paler Shade of Green (London: Leslie Frewin 1972), p.228-35.
  • Tom Paulin, ‘The Making of a Loyalist: Conor Cruise O’Brien’, in Ireland and the English Crisis (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe 1984), [cp.27].
  • ‘Justifying Oneself to Posterity’, in Books Ireland (Dec. 1998), pp.339-40.
  • Richard English & Joseph Morrison Skelly, Ideas Matter: Essays in Honour of Conor Cruise O’Brien (Poolbeg 1998), 410pp. [available at Google Books - online; accessed 24.09.2021.]
  • Naim Altabah, Of a Certain Age: Interviews (London: Quartet 1991) [q.pp.].
  • Frank Callanan, ‘A Revisionist revisited’; Augustine Martin, ‘Passion and Cunning: “What Stalked in the Post Office?”’ (1977; rep. in Crane Bag Book, 1982, p.320) [riposte to Conor Cruise O’Brien’s essay].
  • Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, Yeats, Ireland and Fascism (1981) [passim].
  • [q.a.], ‘Yeats, Fascism and Conor O’Brien’, in London Magazine, 7, 4 July 1967, pp.22-41 [cited by Jeffares, in New Commentary, 1984, p.346].
  • Eric Hobsbawm, ‘The Sacred and the National’ [review of Godland: Reflections on Religion and Nationalism], in LSE Quarterly (Winter 1989), pp.357-69 [rep. as Chap. 5 of Encounters with Nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell 1994), pp.59-73 [see extract].
  • Also Brian Fallon, obituary, in The Guardian (20 Dec. 2008) [see extract].
  • Diarmuid Whelan, Conor Cruise O’Brien Violent Notions (Dublin: IAP 2009), 224pp., ill..
  • Mícheál Mac Donncha, ‘Conor Cruise O’Brien - defender of oppression’, in An Poblacht (8 Jan. 2009) [see copy]
  • John Foley, ‘ A Postcolonial Fiction: Conor Cruise O’Brien’s Camus’, in The Irish Review, 36, 1 (Winter 2007, pp.1-13 [available online; acccessed 16.10.2011 - see extract.]
  • Niall Meehan, ‘Arrested Development: Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1917-2008’, in History Ireland [March/April 2009), pp.10-12 [available as pdf online; accessed 27.12.2014). [see extract]
  • Bryan Fanning, ‘The lonely passion of Conor Cruise OBrien’, in Histories of the Irish Future (London: Bloomsbury 2015), pp.187-212 [Chap. 12; partially available at Google Books - online].
  • Bryan Fanning & Tom Garvin, ‘Conor Cruise O’Brien, States of Ireland (1972)’, in Books That Define Ireland (Sallins: Merrion 2014), Chap. 23.
See also Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Suspecting Glance, a documentary interview, RTE1, Sunday 20 Jan. 2002; Mary Corcoran & Mark O’Brien, Political Censorship and the Democratic State: The Irish Broadcasting Ban (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2004), which deals mainly with the ban on Sinn Féin/IRA interviews introduced by O’Brien under Section 31 of the existing Broadcasting Act and operated during 1971-95.

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3: selects Passion and Cunning [596-602]; 641, 648, 650, BIOG, 677-78 [as supra]; characterises States of Ireland as a ‘wide-ranging critique of Irish nationalism’. Bibl., Donat O’Donnell [Conor Cruise O’Brien], ‘The Parnellism of Seán O’Faolain’ in Maria Cross (Burns & Oates 1963), pp.87-105. Also, excerpts: Conor Cruise O’Brien, arguing that the tradition of violence originates in a bond of Catholicism and nationalism, unrepresentative of the democratic tradition in Ireland, ‘There is a real continuity of Irish nationalism, not an ideological continuity, but a continuity of the traditions and feelings of a people. That people sees itself as the people of Ireland, and that perception is a large part of the problem. For these are not all the people of Ireland. They are the Catholic people of Ireland, formerly Gaelic-speaking. [Article published in New York Review of Books, 29 April 1985; rep. in Passion and Cunning, 1988; and excerpted in FDA3 595 (also quoted in editorial essay, p.566).]

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, 1991), Vol. 3 - cont.: 567, O’Brien, ‘The Nationalist Trend’, TLS, 1 Nov 1985, pp.1230, ‘It would be wrong to conclude that all Ireland has fallen victim to enlightenment values. In rural Ireland, throughout the last summer, and into this summer, numerous statues of the Blessed Virgin were seen to move, and thousands of people came, by car and minibus, to see them move’; Conor Cruise O’Brien calls ‘the area where literature and politics overlap’ an ‘unhealthy intersection’ because, it is ‘suffused with Romanticism’ and therefore breeds bad politics - Fascism and Nationalism.’ (Edna Longley, ‘“Inner Émigré” or “Artful Voyeur”?, Seamus Heaney’s ‘North’, in Tony Curtis, ed., The Art of Seamus Heaney, Brigend 1982, p.93; rep. in Poetry in the Wars, 1986); FDA3 ed. note refers to a series of articles, ‘Politics and the Poet’, and ‘radicating the Tragic Mode’, Irish Times, 21-22 August 1975 [also quoted in Richard Kearney, ‘Beyond Art and Politics’, The Crane Bag, 1, No. 1, 1977, p.9.).

Belfast Public Library holds Passion and Cunning and Other Essays (1988), which contains Passion and Cunning, rep. from In Excited Reverie, ed. A N Jeffares [1965], together with reviews of works including R. Kearney, ed., The Irish Mind, which O’Brien describes as ‘a bad case of cultural nationalism’, and John Feehan, Bobby Sands, which O’Brien reviews under the title of ‘Mutations of Nationalism.’

Brian Cleeve & Anne Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), cites The Siege, A Study of Zionism and Israel [sic], where title-page London edn. has A Saga of Israel and Zionism; but cf. also short titles list in The Great Melody (1992), The Siege: the Story of Israel and Zionism, poss. American edition title.]

The Great Melody (1992), front papers lists Maria Cross, Imaginative Patterns in a Group of Catholic Writers (1952); Parnell and His Party (1957); To Katanga and Back (1962); States of Ireland (1972); The Siege: The Story of Israel and Zionism (1986); Passion and Cunning, Essays on Nationalism, Terrorism, and Revolution (1988) [e.g. ‘Virtue and Terror, Rousseau and Robespierre’]; God’s Land, Reflections on religion and nationalism (1988) [Harvard lecture]; edited Reflections on the Revolution in France (Penguin Classics 1968); Ancestral Voices (Dublin: Poolbeg 1994; Univ. of Chicago Press [1995]), 197pp.; also Donald Harman Akenson, Conor, Anthology (McGill-Queen’s 1994), 356pp.

Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama (RTE 1987), writes: RTE’s enthusiasm for the change in Govt. the next year [i.e., 1973, following the dismissal of the RTE Authority in 1972] and the appointment of Conor Cruise O’Brien, critic of the previous government’s policy on RTE, as Min. of Posts [sic] and Telegraphs, was short-lived. The amending legislation which he introduced in 1976 did limit the arbitrary exercise of govt. power in this doman. But, by issuing a more specific directive, prohibiting interviews with members of proscribed organisations, he strengthened the force of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Authority Act 1960 ... When the question of a second channel arose, the Minister, Conor Cruise O’Brien, proposed not creating RTE” but re-broadcasting BBC1 instead. Following a survey showing this to be contrary to pubic wishes, the decision was made in favour of RTE2. [Sheehan, p.153.]

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Parnell: Conor Cruise O’Brien contrib. a foreword to Frank Callanan, The Parnell Split 1890-91 (Cork UP 1992), remarking that ‘the author is in firm control of his sources’ and praising his fantasia or imaginative insight - a term employed in his own work The Great Melody (1992).

RTÉ ban: Conor Cruise O’Brien extended Sect. 31 of the Broadcasting Authority Act to prevent Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin from gaining access to air-waves; but note the earlier action of Gerard Collins, previously the minister of Posts & Telegraphs under the Fianna Fail government, who forbade pro-IRA propaganda at RTE in Oct. 1971, and sacked the entire broadcasting authority when the IRA Chief of Staff was interviewed on television. (See Chris Morash, A History of the Irish Theatre 1601-2000, Cambridge UP 2002, p.244.)

God’s People: Conor Cruise O’Brien reviews Donald Harman Akenson, God’s People, Convenant and Land in S. Africa, Israel and Ulster (Cornell UP 1993?), calling the work splendidly illuminating and enthrallingly readable.’

Saintly: In his lecture on Joyce in 1967, Niall Montgomery referred without irony to My saintly, distinguished fellow-citizen’ Conor Cruise O’Brien. (‘A Context for Mr. Joyce’s Work’, in Maurice Harmon, ed., The Celtic Master, Dublin: Dolmen 1969, p.14.)

Michael McLaverty wrote in 1949 an unpublished journal note on Francois Mauriac’, examining the centrality of the cross in the French author’s fiction; printed in Sophia Hillan King, In Quiet Places (Dublin: Poolbeg Press 1989), p.133.

Pseudo-admiral? Dictionary of National Biography lists a rear-admiral called Donat Hency [Henry?] O’Brien (1785-1857).

John Banville has given the name Whitewater to the house of the Behrenses in his novel The Book of Evidence (1989), dealing with events very like the MacArthur case that caused O’Brien to coin the phrase GOBU to as an abbreviation of the terms used by Charles Haughey in summary of his reaction to the discovery that the malefactor has hidden in the General Attorney’s house in Dalkey.

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John Dolan, letter to Times Literary Supplement (30 June 2000), questions the wisdom of asking Conor Cruise O’Brien to writing an essay on Northern Ireland [2 June 2000] and facetiously suggests Ian Paisley as an alternative contributor.

Hewers: Matthew Hodgart (Student’s Guide to James Joyce, 1978) writes: ’since the Catholic Church has the monopoly of the edcuation of its flock, the same narrow views were imposed on the schoolchildren. As a result the Irish have remained educationally relatively backward, and as Conor Cruise O’Brien has said they have [15] been trained to become hewers of wordd and drawers of water. The Protestant ethos, on the other hand, imposed a more acquisitive and dynamic attitude [...]’ (pp.15-16; without footnote or bibl. ref.)

Antigon-istic: reviewing Seamus Heaney’s translation-version of Antigone (Abey 2004), Neil Corcoran, writes: ‘The play has featured more recently, too, in Irish public life in the controversial article that Conor Cruise O’Brien published in The Listener in October 1968, in which he identified Antigone with the Queen’s University student Civil-Rights campaigners - Heaney was a lecturer at Queen’s then - declaring that the consequences of her action were “a stiff price for that handful of dust on Polyneices”, and recommending instead the quietism of Ismene.’ Corcoran later adds: For Cruise O’Brien, Antigone is “an uncompromising element in our being, as dangerous in her way as Creon”.’ (The Guardian, 1 May 2004 [online].)

Seamus Deane dismissed The Great Melody as ‘feeble’ in Foreign Affections: Essays on Edmund Burke (Cork UP); see review by Thomas Bartlett, in The Irish Times (17 Dec. 2005), p.11.

God & Caesar: The Irish Times (30 Nov. 2002) made it known that Conor Cruise O’Brien has been issued with large demand by Revenue Commissioners following his admission on radio in 1998 (Tonight with Vincent Browne) that he had not paid tax on his journalism, believing it should be exempt in the same way as his books. The law in question specifically excludes work for of any kind written for newspapers. After initially accepting his argument the Revenue had apparently shown a strong inclination to tax it; O’Brien claimed [in the Star] that the disagreement had continued intermittently over a good many years, and 'might one day be tested in the courts, and well see how it goes.

Taxing the writer: Conor Cruise O’Brien reputedly reached six-figure tax settlement for journalistic earnings with Revenue Commission, following his unsolicited admission in radio interview with Vincent Browne that he did not pay taxes on his earnings from journalism in keeping, as he understood it, with the tax exemption for artists instituted by Charles Haughey. (See ‘Taxing the Writer’, interview-report by Shirley Kelly, in Books Ireland, Feb. 2004, p.10.)

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Kith & Kin (1): Son of Francis [“Frank”] Cruise O’Brien (1885-1927), and grandson of J. Cruise O’Brien, he was related by marriage to the Sheehy family through his aunt Kathleen, dg. of David Sheehy, MP. His father Francis was an able student at Royal University and auditor of UC Debating Soc. [L & H] and prominent early on in nationalist politics though later took the British side against Germany on recruitment in World War I - in which he lost a brother; became leader-writer for Freeman’s Journal and afterwards for Irish Independent. (See Richard Ellmann, ed., Selected Letters of James Joyce, 1975, p.142, ftn.) [See also Niall Meehan, "Arrested development: Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1917-2008", in History Ireland, 2: 17 (March 2009) - under Commentary, supra.]

Kith & Kin (2) - Kathleen Cruise O’Brien (née Sheehy) - his mother - is the subject of an entry in Wikipedia which cites brothers Eugene and Richard and her uncle Fr. Eugene Sheehy, known as the Land League Priest. She was educated at the Dominican Convent in Eccles St., and completed an exchange year in Amiens, France - the French exchange student going on to marryher nephew Owen-Sheehy Skeffington, son of Francis Skeffington who married her sister Hanna. (Wikipedia - online; accessed 23.10.2022.)

Kith & Kin (3) - See his Ancestral Voices: Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (Poolbeg 1994), for an account of his O’Brien and Sheehy aunts: Cathleen O’Brien m. Eimar O’Duffy; Mary Sheehy m. Tom Kettle; Hanna Sheehy m. Francis Skeffington; Kathleen Sheehy m. Francis Cruise O’Brien. In it, O’Brien argues that his mother is a much better fit for Miss Ivors in “The Dead” than Hanna Sheehy, the identification tentatively supplied by Terence Brown. He adds: ‘It seems possible that Joyce may have been conflating a memory of a conversation with Kathleen about the Irish language with a memory of a conversation with Hanna, about politics. Certainly Hanna would have been much more likely to call a person a West Briton, ‘before people’. [48] Note: In the Wikipedia entry on Tom Kettle, his wife Mary (née Sheehy) is given as the model for both the girl in “Araby” and Miss Ivors in &“The Dead”.

Kith & Kin (4) - Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972), writes: ‘Cruise O’Brien worked with AE [George Russell] in Sir Horace Plunkett’s Irish Agricultural Organization Society. His son Conor Cruise O’Brien has had a distinguished career as historian (Parnell and his Party [1957]) and literary critic (Maria Cross [1952]), a study of modern Roman Catholic writers, published under the pseudonym of “Donat O’Donnell”), as well as becoming one of the best known of modern diplomats, through his service as political adviser to Dag Hammarskjåld and head of the United Nations in Katanga during the Congo crisis beginning in 1960. Kathleen Sheehy O’Brien, an ardent nationalist, may have provided a model for Miss Ivors in Joyce’s masterful story The Dead. Margaret (another sister) wrote a skit, the performance of [89] which was attended by the indefatigable Joseph Holloway, who found Joyce the only member of the cast who showed any aptitude for the stage.’ (p.89.) [Note: The play, Apartments, was performed at the Abbey on Sept. 1923, and written under the pseudonym Fand O’Grady - see Wikipedia entry on Cathleen Cruise O’Brien - online; accessed 23.10.2022]

Kith & Kin (4): A son Donal is Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and is a long-term sufferer from MS; a dg. Fidelma married Nicholas Sims, son of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, businessman and executive with Bord Bainne [Milk Board]; a second dg. Kate, was a novelist and senior editor for Poolbeg Press, died of brain haemorrhage (aetat. 49), survived by her husband Joe Kearney and her son Alexander; an adopted dg. Margaret works for a computer company based in Navan; an adopted son Patrick was at one point spectacularly successful in high-tech communications and now lives in London. (See Geoffrey Wheatcroft, feature article, in The Guardian, 12 July 2003; available online; acessed [date known].)

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