William O'Brien (1881-1968) Papers, 1898-1969.
These papers are of seminal importance to the history of the Labour movement in Ireland, and in particular, the contribution of James Connolly during the period 1898-1916. Labour leader William O'Brien collected a vast amount of material relating, not just to his own extensive involvement in the movement spanning five decades, but also the correspondence and papers of his comrades and associates. There is extensive material in this collection relating to the activities of the left in Dublin from 1898 onwards, including papers pertaining to the Irish Socialist Republican Party of Ireland, founded by James Connolly in 1898, and the Irish Citizen Army, founded by Jack White and James Larkin in 1913. O'Brien collected considerable material relating to the 1913 Lockout and the 1916 Rising, the two most seminal events of his political life, including a vast collection of primary documents consisting of letters, organisational material and propaganda. Papers pertaining to the publication of the Worker's Republic newspaper, edited by James Connolly, and extensive correspondence pertaining to Connolly's endeavours in the United States from 1903-1910, personal letters between Connolly and his wife, and letters between Connolly and his American comrades, are of particular value to researchers. There are also considerable papers covering O'Brien's own involvement in the Labour movement following the Easter Rising, through the turbulence of the War of Independence and the Civil War that followed.
|Main Creator:||O'Brien, William, 1881-1968|
William O’Brien was born on 23 January 1881 at Ballygurteen, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. His father Daniel O’Brien was a member of the RIC and was a nationalist and Irish language revivalist. The famil moved to Dublin in 1886 and William O’Brien became a tailor. He became an active Union member and took part in socialist agitation when he joined the Irish Socialist Republican Party. He was a close associate of James Connolly and helped establish the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union in 1909 and was instrumental in the Dublin Lock-Out Strike in 1913. During the First World War he became a member of the Irish Neutrality League and Anti-Conscription Committee and was interned on numerous occasions by the Dublin Castle government. He did not partake in the 1916 Easter Rising but was closely involved in its planning. With the formation of the Irish Free State, O’Brien was elected as TD for Dublin South at the 1922 general election, for Tipperary in 1927 and later in 1937. O’Brien was an important figure in the Labour Party in Ireland and was a consistent supporter of expanded labour activity. He also supported the leadership of James Larkin in the formation of the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union in 1908. However in 1923, to prevent James Larkin’s near dictatorial role in the union, O’Brien joined an executive that brought in new rules limiting the authority of the general secretary which lead to a breach within the Union. Larkin was expelled from the body and O’Brien became its general secretary and he succeeded in excluding Larkin from both the Labour Party and the trades union congress. This split weakened the labour movement. O’Brien remained active in politics and the trade union movement and retired in 1946. He died on 31 October 1968.
Letters and papers of William O'Brien, 1898-1969.
Physical description: 182 folders.