William Smith OBrien

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

O’Brien, William Smith


Born Oct. 17, 1803, in Dromoland; died June 18, 1864, in Bangor. A leader in the Irish national liberation movement.

In 1828, O’Brien became one of the leaders of the Irish opposition in the British Parliament, and in 1843 he joined the Repealers. At the time of the split within the Repeal Association he sided with the radicals, and in 1847 he helped found the Irish Confederation. O’Brien advocated moderate constitutional methods in the struggle for Ireland’s independence.

In 1848, however, under the influence of revolutionary ferment within the country, O’Brien took a stand in favor of armed uprising. During local disturbances in the southeastern part of Ireland in July 1848, he urged the insurgents to act defensively and restrained them from violence directed against the landlords. On Aug. 5, 1848, he was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to exile to Tasmania. In 1856, O’Brien returned to Ireland.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.