Famous People

Dara Ó Briain

Dara O'BrienDara Ó Briain (born 4 February 1972) is an Irish stand-up comedian and television presenter, noted for hosting topical panel shows such as The Panel, Mock the Week, Dara Ó Briain: School of Hard Sums and The Apprentice: You’re Fired!

He has also featured on Don’t Feed the Gondolas, Have I Got News For You, QI and Stargazing Live. The Irish Independent described him as “Terry Wogan’s heir apparent as Britain’s ‘favourite Irishman'”. Writing for The Evening Standard, Bruce Dessau noted that “If you don’t laugh at Ó Briain, check your pulse, you must be dead.”

Since January 2006, Ó Briain has taken part in the BBC Three Men in a Boat series, with Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones. The series, broadcast in a pair of episodes around new year in 2006 and then every year since 2008, has consistently had around 3 million viewers.

In 2007, he was voted the 42nd greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and again in the updated 2010 list as the 16th greatest stand-up comic.

Edna O’Brien

Edna O'BrienEdna O’Brien was born in Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland, in 1930, a place she would later describe as “fervid” and “enclosed.” According to O’Brien, her mother was a strong, controlling woman who had emigrated temporarily to America, and worked for some time as a maid in Brooklyn, New York, for a well-off Irish-American family before returning to Ireland to raise a family. O’Brien was the youngest child of “a strict, religious family”. In the years 1941-46 she was educated by the Sisters of Mercy – a circumstance that contributed to a “suffocating” childhood. “I rebelled against the coercive and stifling religion into which I was born and bred. It was very frightening and all pervasive. I’m glad it has gone.”

In 1950, she was awarded a licence as pharmacist. She married, against her parents’ wishes, in the summer of 1954, the Czech/Irish writer Ernest Gébler and the couple moved to London – “We lived in SW 20. Sub-urb-ia.” They raised two sons, Carlo and Sasha, but the marriage was dissolved in 1964. Gébler died in 1998. In Ireland she read such writers as Tolstoy, Thackeray, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In London, O’Brien bought Introducing James Joyce by T. S. Eliot and has said that, when she learnt Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was autobiographical, it made her realise, ‘where she might turn, should she want to write herself: “Unhappy houses are a very good incubation for stories.”‘ In London she started work as a reader for Hutchinson where, on the basis of her reports, she was commissioned, for £25, to write a novel.

She published her first book, The Country Girls, in 1960. This was the first part of a trilogy of novels (later collected as The Country Girls Trilogy) which also included The Lonely Girl (1962) and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964). Shortly after their publication, these books were banned and, in some cases burnt, in Ireland, because of their frank portrayals of the sex lives of their characters. In the 1960s, she was a patient of R. D. Laing: “I thought he might be able to help me. He couldn’t do that – he was too mad himself – but he opened doors,” she said later.

Her novel A Pagan Place (1970) was about her childhood in a repressive Irish town. Indeed, her parents were vehemently against all things related to literature; her mother strongly disapproved of Edna’s career as an author, which greatly troubled Edna. In 1981, she wrote a play, Virginia, about Virginia Woolf and was staged originally in Canada and subsequently in the West End of London at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Maggie Smith and directed by Robin Phillips. It was subsequently staged at The Public Theater in New York in spring 1985. Other notable works included a biography of James Joyce, published in 1999, and one of the poet Lord Byron, Byron in Love, 2009.

House of Splendid Isolation (1994), her novel about a terrorist who goes on the run (part of her research involved visiting Dominic McGlinchey, whom she called “a grave and reflective man”), marked a new phase in her writing career, “when she turned away from women, and from love, and began writing state-of-the-nation novels.” Down by the River (1996) concerned an under-age rape victim who sought an abortion in England, the “Miss X case”, and In the Forest (2002) the case of Brendan O’Donnell, a disturbed young man who abducted and murdered a woman, her three-year-old son, and a priest.

She has received numerous awards for her works, including a Kingsley Amis Award in 1962 (for The Country Girls), the Yorkshire Post Book Award in 1970 (for A Pagan Place), and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 1990 for Lantern Slides. In 2006, Edna O’ Brien was appointed adjunct professor of English Literature in University College, Dublin. In 2009, O’Brien was honoured with a special lifetime achievement award – the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award – at a special ceremony for the year’s Irish Book Awards in Dublin. According to the novelist Andrew O’Hagan, her place in Irish letters is assured. “She changed the nature of Irish fiction; she brought the woman’s experience and sex and internal lives of those people on to the page, and she did it with style, and she made those concerns international.” And in the words of the novelist Colum McCann, she has been “the advance scout for the Irish imagination” for over fifty years.

She is one of two surviving panel members of the first edition of the BBC programme Question Time, the other being Teddy Taylor.

She won the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award with her collection Saints and Sinners, with judge Thomas McCarthy referring to her as “the Solzhenitsyn of Irish life”. RTÉ intends to air a documentary on her as part of its Arts strand in early 2012.

Dermod O’Brien

dermond obrienDermod O’Brien (1865, in Mount Trenchard, Foynes, County Limerick – October 3, 1945, in Dublin) was an Irish painter, chiefly of landscapes and portraits.


Unlike many of his Irish contemporaries, O’Brien did not study art in Dublin, opting instead to travel to Paris, where he studied the paintings at the Louvre. In 1887, O’Brien visited galleries in Italy and then enrolled at the Royal Academy in Antwerp. At the Academy he was a fellow student of Walter Osborne. O’Brien left Antwerp in 1891 and returned to Paris, where he studied at Académie Julian. He relocated to London in 1893 and then Dublin in 1901. O’Brien was designated an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1906, a member in 1907, and was later president. He was made an honorary member of the Royal Academy, London in 1912.

Vincent O’Brien

Dr. Michael Vincent O’Brien (9 April 1917 – 1 June 2009) was an Irish race horse trainer from Churchtown, County Cork, Ireland. In 2003 he was voted the greatest influence in horse racing history, according to a worldwide poll hosted by the Racing Post newspaper. In separate earlier Racing Post polls he was voted the best ever trainer of national hunt and of flat racehorses. He trained six horses to win the Epsom Derby, was twice British champion trainer, won three Grand Nationals in succession and trained the only British Triple Crown winner since the 2nd World War, to name but a few of his many achievements. O’Brien was not related to Aidan O’Brien, who took over the Ballydoyle stables after his retirement.

The National Hunt Years

In his early days Vincent O’Brien was a trainer of steeplechasers and hurdlers, and won the Grand National at Liverpool three times in succession, with three different horses – Early Mist in 1953, Royal Tan in 1954, and Quare Times in 1955. Probably the greatest steeplechaser he trained was Cottage Rake, which won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times in succession (1948-1950). He later trained Knock Hard to also win the Cheltenham Gold Cup (1953). He also won the Champion Hurdle three years in succession with Hatton’s Grace (1949-1951).

The Flat Years

Soon after his third Grand National triumph, he turned his attention to flat racing, and set up his stables at Ballydoyle, near Cashel, County Tipperary. Ballymoss, owned by American businessman John McShain, was O’Brien’s first top-flight flat racing horse. This colt won the Irish Derby Stakes and England’s St. Leger Stakes in 1957 and France’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1958, en route to earning European Horse of the Year honours. For another American, Alice du Pont Mills, he trained the filly Glad Rags who in 1966 gave him his only win in the 1,000 Guineas Stakes. O’Brien’s first Epsom Derby winner was Larkspur in 1962. His other Derby winners were Sir Ivor (1968), Nijinsky (1970), Roberto (1972), The Minstrel (1977) and finally Golden Fleece (1982). O’Brien also trained the brilliant dual Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe winner, Alleged, which triumphed in 1977 and 1978.

During the 1970s, he and owner Robert Sangster, along with O’Brien’s son-in-law, John Magnier, established what became known as the Coolmore syndicate, which became a highly successful horse-racing and breeding operation, centred on Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary, and later incorporating stud farms in Kentucky and Australia. The combination of Vincent O’Brien’s incredible gift for picking world class horses and John Magnier’s business mind propelled Coolmore Stud to the top of the racing world, boasting greater assets than any other racing stud in Europe, the Middle East, or America. The key to the success was through use of the bloodline of a Canadian-bred horse named Northern Dancer, who had won a Kentucky Derby. One son of Northern Dancer was the British Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky, probably the best horse O’Brien ever trained. He was ridden to victory at Epsom by Lester Piggott, who was associated with the Ballydoyle stable during the most successful years of the late sixties and seventies.

Other outstanding flat racehorses trained by Vincent O’Brien include: Gladness, Valoris, Pieces of Eight, Long Look, Boucher, Thatch, Lisadell, Abergwaun, Home Guard, Apalachee, Artaius, Try My Best, Cloonlara, Godswalk, Be My Guest, Marinsky, Lady Capulet, Solinus, Jaazeiro, Thatching, Monterverdi, Solford, Bluebird, Lomond, Godetia, Storm Bird, Kings Lake, Caerleon, El Prado, Woodstream, Capriciossa, Prince of Birds, Dark Lomond and College Chapel. He trained Sadler’s Wells (by Northern Dancer) to win the Beresford Stakes, Irish 2000 Guineas, Eclipse Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes. Sadlers Wells went on to become the greatest ever European sire and an outstanding ‘sire of sires’ including Gallileo, Montjeu and El Prado.

Vincent O’Brien retired from training in 1994, four years after winning the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Belmont Park in New York with Royal Academy.

Aidan O’Brien was then employed by Coolmore to take over the training responsibilities of Vincent O’Brien. Unlike Vincent, who was involved in every stage of the horses’ selecting, training and breeding, Aidan’s role involves training whatever horses have been bought or bred for him by Coolmore. This narrow focus has allowed Aidan to produce a great number of winners from Vincent’s first rate bloodline of horses, maintaining Coolmore’s status as the biggest bloodstock company in the world.


Vincent O’Brien was voted the greatest national hunt trainer of the 20th century, and was then voted the greatest flat trainer of the 20th century. In the vote for the greatest figure in the history of horseracing hosted by the Racing Post newspaper, Vincent O’Brien came first with 28% of the total vote, with his long-time stable jockey Lester Piggott placed second out of a pool of 100 contenders who had been carefully selected by a panel of racing experts. He received the honorary degrees of Doctor of Laws (LLD honoris causa) from the National University of Ireland and Doctor of Science (DSc honoris causa) from the University of Ulster.

William O’Brien

William O’Brien (2 October 1852 – 25 February 1928) was an Irish nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He was particularly associated with the campaigns for land reform in Ireland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as his conciliatory approach to attaining Irish Home Rule.

Family, education

William O’Brien was born at Bank Place in Mallow, County Cork, as second son of James O’Brien, a solicitor’s clerk, and his wife Kate, the daughter of James Nagle, a local shopkeeper. On his mother’s side he was descended from the distinguished Norman family of Nagles, long settled in the vicinity of Mallow giving their name to the nearby Nagle Mountains. He was also linked through his mother with the statesman Edmund Burke’s mother’s family, as well as with the poet Edmund Spencer’s family. The Nagles however, no longer held the status or prosperity they once had. In the same month thirty-eight years earlier Thomas Davis was born in Mallow. O’Brien’s advocacy of the cause of Irish Independence was to be in the same true tradition of his esteemed fellow-townsman.

O’Brien shared his primary education with a townsman with whom he was later to have a close political connection, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile. He enjoyed his secondary education at the Cloyne diocesan college, which resulted in his being brought up in an environment noted for its religious tolerance. He greatly valued having had this experience from an early age, which strongly influenced his later views for the need of such tolerance in Irish national life.

Early journalism

Financial misfortune in 1868 caused the O’Brien family to move to Cork City. A year later his father died, and the illness of his elder and younger brother and his sister resulted in him having to support his mother and siblings. Always a prolific writer, it quickly earned him a job as newspaper reporter, first for the Cork Daily Herald. This was to be the primary career which first attracted attention to him as a public figure. He had begun legal studies at Queen’s College, later University College Cork, but although he never graduated, he held a lifelong attachment to the institution, to which he bequeathed his private papers.

Political origins

From an early age O’Brien’s political ideas, like most of his contemporaries, were shaped by the Fenian movement and the plight of the Irish tenant farmers, his elder brother having participated in the rebellion of 1867. It resulted in O’Brien himself becoming actively involved with the Fenian brotherhood, resigning in the mid-1870s, because of what he described in ‘Evening Memories’ (p. 443–4) as “the gloom of inevitable failure and horrible punishment inseparable from any attempt at separation by force of arms”.

As a journalist his attention was attracted in the first place to the suffering of the tenant farmers. Now on the staff of the Freeman’s Journal, after touring the Galtee Mountains around Christmas 1877 he published articles describing their conditions, which later appeared in pamphlet form. With this action he first displayed his belief that only through parliamentary reform and with the new power of the press that public opinion could be influenced to pursue Irish issues constitutionally through open political activity and the ballot box. Not least of all, responding to the hopes of the new Irish Home Rule movement.

United Ireland Editor

In 1878 he met Charles Stewart Parnell MP at a Home Rule meeting. Parnell recognised his exceptional talents as a journalist and writer, influencing his rise to becoming a leading politician of the new generation. He subsequently appointed him in 1881 as editor of the Irish National Land League’s journal, The United Irishman. His association with Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) led to his arrest and imprisonment with Parnell, Dillon, William Redmond and other nationalist leaders in Kilmainham Gaol that October.

During his imprisonment until April 1882 he drafted the famous Land War No Rent Manifesto – a rent-withholding scheme personally led by O’Brien, escalating the conflict between the Land League and Gladstone’s government. He was persecuted nine times in the course of years.

Aidan O’Brien (b. 1969), Irish race horse trainer

Alan O’Brien, Irish association football player

Alex O’Brien (b. 1970), professional American tennis player

Andy O’Brien (footballer), Irish association football player

Barton O’Brien Director, O’Brien Clan Foundation, Owner, O’Brien Family Winery, Napa, CA

Billy O’Brien (1860–1911), American baseball player

Bronterre O’Brien, (1805–1864), British Chartist

Carter O’Brien Director, O’Brien Clan Foundation, Philanthropist

Cathy O’Brien (b. 1957), purported American child-slave/sex-abuse victim

Cathy O’Brien (b. 1967), American long-distance runner

Charles O’Brien, 5th Viscount Clare

Charles O’Brien, 6th Viscount Clare

Charles O’Brien, 7th Viscount Clare

Christian O’Brien (b. 1914 – 2001), British geologist, author & historian

Clayton O’Brien (b. 1980 – 20xx), Born in Indiana in 1980, Great Person

Clinton O’Brien (b. 1974), Australian rugby league footballer

Conan O’Brien (b. 1963), US comedian and talk show host

Connor O’Brien, 2nd Viscount Clare

Daniel O’Brien, 1st Viscount Clare Irish member of the confederation of Kilkenny

Daniel O’Brien, 3rd Viscount Clare

Daniel O’Brien, 4th Viscount Clare

Danny O’Brien (b. 1969), British writer and digital rights activist

Dara Ó Briain, Irish comedian and presenter

Darcy O’Brien (1939–1998), American true crime author

Daryl O’Brien (b. 1941), Australian footballer (Australian rules football)

Dave O’Brien (sportscaster), American sportscaster

Dave O’Brien (actor) (1912–1969), American film actor

Dermod O’Brien (1865–1906), Irish painter

Ed O’Brien, (b. 1968), English musician

Edna O’Brien (b. 1930), Irish novelist

Edward O’Brien (Irish republican) (1974–1996), Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer

Edwin Frederick O’Brien, Archbishop of Baltimore

Erin Joanne O’Brien (b. 1935), American actress

Erin O’Brien (writer), American writer

Eugene O’Brien (actor), actor of the silent film era

Eugene O’Brien (racing driver), British auto racing driver

Fergal O’Brien, Irish professional snooker player

Fitz James O’Brien, Irish born American novelist

Flann O’Brien, pen name of Irish novelist and satirist Brian O’Nolan

George O’Brien (actor) (1899–1985), American silent movie actor

George O’Brien (cricketer) (b. 1984), Bermudian cricketer

George O’Brien (footballer) (b. 1935), former Southampton F.C. footballer

George O’Brien (painter) (1821–1888), New Zealand painter

George O’Brien (captain) (1788–1818), Irish, former lieutenant of the British Royal Navy, died in combat, fighting for the Independence of Chile

George Thomas Michael O’Brien (fl. 1890s – 1900s), former governor of Fiji

George H. O’Brien, Jr. (1926–2005), Korean War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

George M. O’Brien (1917–1986), member of the U.S. House of Representatives

Hugh O’Brien (1827–1895) mayor of Boston

James O’Brien (disambiguation)

James O’Neill O’Brien Tanaiste, Director, O’Brien Clan Foundation

Jeremiah O’Brien (1744–1818), US Navy officer of the American Revolutionary War

Jim O’Brien (disambiguation)

Joey O’Brien

John O’Brien (marine artist) (1831–1891), Canadian painter

John O’Brien (rower), New Zealand rower

John O’Brien (soccer), American soccer player

John J. O’Brien Chairman, O’Brien Clan Foundation

John Thomond O’Brien

John P. O’Brien, Mayor of New York City

Kate O’Brien, (1897–1974), Irish Writer, novelist and playwright

Katie O’Brien, British female tennis player

Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien, current Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh. Keith O’Brien, Journeyman Lineman

Kerry O’Brien (disambiguation)

Kevin O’Brien (Irish football)

Kevin O’Brien (Texas pastor), Independent Baptist pastor in Texas

Kirsten O’Brien (born 1972), British TV presenter

Kyan Laslett O’Brien Music Composer

Larry O’Brien (1917–1990), American politician

Larry O’Brien (Canadian politician), Canadian entrepreneur and politician; Mayor of Ottawa, late 2006 to present

Mark O’Brien (Ontario politician), Green Party candidate in the 2004 Canadian federal election

Michael O’Brien (swimmer) (born 1965), American freestyle swimmer

Mick O’Brien (musician), Traditional Irish musician

Mike O’Brien (hurler)

Miles O’Brien (journalist), journalist and CNN anchor

Moira O’Brien Director, O’Brien Clan Foundation, photographer

Patrick O’Brien (disambiguation), for people with forename Patrick or Pat

Peter R. O’Brien-Ara Director and Treasurer, O’Brien Clan Foundation

Raymond O’Brien Director, O’Brien Clan Foundation

Richard O’Brien (born 1942), Rocky Horror Picture Show writer and actor

Richard Baptist O’Brien (1809–1885), Irish priest, author and nationalist

Robert O’Brien (auto racer), American racing driver

Robert C. O’Brien, pen name of Robert Leslie Conly (1918–1973), American author and journalist

Sean O’Brien (disambiguation)

Shauna O’Brien, American erotic film star

Soledad O’Brien, American television journalist

Stephen O’Brien, UK conservative politician for Eddisbury

Stuart O’Brien, lead guitarist of rock band Amnezia

Terence Albert O’Brien (1600–1651), beatified Irish bishop

Thomas J. O’Brien (Illinois), Illinois politician

Thomas J. O’Brien (Massachusetts), Massachusetts State Representative

Thomas J. O’Brien (Michigan) (1842–1933), Michigan politician and U. S. ambassador

Tim O’Brien (author) (born 1946), American author

Tim O’Brien (musician) (born 1954), American musician

Tim O’Brien (musician) (born 1954), American musician

Sir Tim O’Brien, 3rd Baronet (1861–1948), Irish-born cricketer

Tim O’Brien (politician) (born 1968), legislator in the Connecticut House of Representatives

Tim O’Brien (illustrator) (born 1964), American artist

Timothy O’Brien (theatre designer) (born 1929), British theatre designer

Timothy O’Brien (endocrinologist), Irish professor

Timothy L. O’Brien (born 1961), American journalist

Tina O’Brien (born 1983), English actress

Tom O’Brien (UK politician) (1900–1970), British trade unionist and Member of Parliament

Tom O’Brien (second baseman) (1860–1921), 19th century baseball player

Tom O’Brien (outfielder) (1873–1901), baseball outfielder

Tom O’Brien (actor) (b. 1965), American film actor

Tom O’Brien (football coach) (b. 1948), American college football coach at North Carolina State University

Tommy O’Brien (1918–1978), baseball outfielder

Vincent O’Brien, Irish race horse trainer

William O’Brien,Irish Nationalist and politician