William Smith O'Brien

William Smith O'Brien

William Smith O'Brien

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William Smith O'Brien (; 17 October 1803 – 18 June 1864) was an Irish Nationalist and Member of Parliament (MP) and leader of the Young Ireland movement. He was convicted of sedition for his part in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, but his sentence of death was commuted to deportation to Van Diemen's Land. In 1854, he was released on the condition of exile from Ireland, and he lived in Brussels for two years. In 1856 O'Brien was pardoned and returned to Ireland, but he was never active again in politics.

Early life

Born in Dromoland, Newmarket on Fergus, County Clare, he was the second son of Sir Edward O'Brien, 4th Baronet, of Dromoland Castle. William took the additional surname Smith, his mother's maiden name, upon inheriting property through her. He was a descendant of the eleventh century Ard RĂ­ (High King of Ireland), Brian Boru.


From April 1828 to 1831 he was Conservative MP for Ennis. He became MP for Limerick County in 1835, holding his seat in the House of Commons until 1848.

Although a Protestant, he supported Catholic Emancipation while remaining a supporter of British-Irish union. In 1843, in protest against the imprisonment of Daniel O'Connell, he joined O'Connell's anti-union Repeal Association.

Three years later, disillusioned by O'Connell, O'Brien withdrew the Young Irelanders from...
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