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Travels of William Smith O'Brien in Europe and the Wider World 1843 to 1864

Travels of William Smith O'Brien in Europe and the Wider World 1843 to 1864

Richard Davis

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William Smith O’Brien began his travels by being transported to Van Dieman’s Land after the failed 1848 rebellion. The author states: ’his prestige in his own country resembled that of Nelson Mandela today.’ Full of insightful observations.

Travels of William Smith O'Brien is a fascinating exploration of the mid 19th century world by a Protestant nationalist who spent four and a half years in Van Dieman's Land.

Recently discovered journals prove William Smith O'Brien a writer of exceptional interest. O'Brien proved a passionate European traveller and analyst of the conditions and policies of numerous countries.

Not till the arrival of Garret FitzGerald in the 20th century was any Irishman so conversant with European political, religious and social developments. Both before and after his free pardon in 1856, O'Brien acted as an unofficial ambassador at large for his country, being honourably received by President Buchanan of the United States of America, Marshal McMahon, later President of France, and Pope Pius IX.

The recovered Journals show O'Brien to be a man of the future. In Hungary he met Ferenc Deák in the middle of the latter's successful campaign to achieve constitutional freedom for his country from Austria. Arthur Griffith based early Sinn Féin on Deák's movement.

In Poland he discovered a revolutionary movement against Russia which had many of the characteristics of the Irish War of Independence 1919-21. An ecumenical member of the Church of Ireland, O'Brien showed particular appreciation for the ritual, architecture and theology of the Roman Catholic Church. He was also positive in his discussion of Islam and Hinduism. Wherever he went, O'Brien took particular note of the condition of the working classes, usually compared unfavourably with that of the Irish under Britain. Only in India did he discover greater poverty.

As a keen student of Gaelic, O'Brien was particularly interested in the language and general culture of the lands through which he passed. By more than a century he anticipated Ireland's role in the European Community.

Additional Information

Author Richard Davis
Publisher Geography Publications
Publication date 1 Apr 2013
Format Paperback
ISBN/EAN 9780906602645

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