Lady Cathleen

This very important book deals with the history and fortunes of an Irish family, once High Kings of Ireland, who are now spread around the world.

The book, only a limited number having been printed more than 140 years ago, is now so rare that many libraries in the world are unaware of its existence. Few copies are known to exist today, most of these being in private collections. At a time when many people are interested in finding out more about their ancestry, very few families can boast a book of this stature dedicated to their family name .


The book tells the story of the O'Brien family from the dawn of history up to the end of the eighteenth century, and the author John O'Donoghue, uses the standard reference works of Irish history to build his story. These include The Annals of the Four Masters, The Annals of Innisfallen, The Annals of Ulster and works by John O'Donovan and other scholars of Irish history. The references used in this book will direct anybody interested in further study of the O'Brien Clan to the best and most scholarly works on the subject.

The O'Briens are credited with building many of the castles in the County of Clare. (A book detailing the history of the castles in Co. Clare, 220 in total, is at present in hand.) The new publication will contain old family photographs, portraits and pedigrees. The original book had only the family pedigrees. Through the kindness of the present owners of the O'Brien family portraits, it is now possible to include likenesses of some of the most noteworthy O'Briens in history. These will include Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, 1002AD to 1014AD, Máire Rua O'Brien and many other famous members of the clan.

Edward O'Brien

Morgan Llywelyn, historical writer, novelist and author of ,"Lion of Ireland", -the story of Brian Boru, has written the foreword to the new publication. Part of Morgan's text, which is reproduced here, gives us a good idea of what is in store for its readers:

"The eleventh century Árd Rí of Ireland, Brian, son of Cinnéide, lived a life of mythological greatness. Yet he was absolutely real. His deeds are well documented not only in Ireland but abroad. With an eye always on the future, he married his children into the royal families of Europe. These dynastic marriages insured that Brian's blood would survive in spite of war and peace, prosperity and famine...

An elderly Maire Rua

When John O'Donoghue undertook to compile what was essentially a family history he attempted to set the O'Briens in context. Their story begins in an era of great antiquity. O'Donoghue's work is noteworthy for its prodigious historical research. He drew heavily upon the ancient Irish annalists at a time when such irreplaceable knowledge was in danger of being lost through indifference or as a matter of political expedience. He also pored painstakingly through family archives, private letters, state records, even tax rolls, unearthing every detail that might add to the larger picture. Thus O'Donoghue preserved a great family's heritage for the future...

In describing his work as an historical memoir, O'Donoghue underestimated his achievement. It was a landmark event. Since O'Donoghue's book was first published in 1860, there have been numerous other works building upon the foundation he laid. Other writers have struggled, not always successfully, to emulate the depth and breadth of his studies. Recent discoveries have verified many of the more obscure details he recounted.

In making this seminal work available once again, Martin Breen has been faithful to the original text while making it more accessible. The advertising copy that helped fund the original publication is included. Illustrations of prominent O'Brien sites and people, not found in the first edition, add a new dimension. 'Historical Memoir of the O'Briens' belongs in the library of everyone who is interested in Ireland."

The new book also has a dust cover depicting some of the most important buildings associated with the O'Briens in their home county of Clare and Thomond. This new edition has a hard cover with gold lettering on the spine and runs to approx 632 pages. There are a special limited number of leather-bound volumes as required by individuals at a pre-publication price. This book will become a valued family heirloom in years to come.

Dromoland Castel

The opening page of the book gives some idea of its contents:

"A reader of Irish history will find the names of the O'Briens so often mentioned in the pages of its annals, that he cannot hesitate to conclude, that whether as kings of the whole island, or later, of the southern half, or again, after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, ruling their restricted principality of Thomond with independent authority, the descendants of Brian Boru have written their names in indelible characters in the history of their country. In no part of the kingdom can so many memorials of the energy and power of the native princes be found at this day, as in the territory of Thomond, before it was restricted to the present county of Clare. The erection of the monasteries of Manistirenagh, Holycross, the Cathedral of Limerick, the abbey of Ennis, and many others too numerous to mention, devoted to the promotion of learning and piety, exhibit to the modern traveller proofs of the genius and vigour of the descendants of Brian Boru."

Lady O'Brien

For anyone bearing the noble name of O'Brien in their family tree, this is a book which would be a must if it were obtainable for love or money. But because it is not, this initiative in reprinting it should be widely supported, and it will hopefully inspire members of the clan to delve further and publish details of their own particular branch of which there are many spread throughout the globe.


Now also available in a special
Leather-Bound Edition

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Gold Lettering Leather Edition