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O'Brien, Terence Albert


Bishop of Emly and martyr; b. Tower Hill Castle, Cappamore, County Limerick, 1600; d. Balls Bridge, Limerick, Oct. 31, 1651. As the son of Murtagh O'Brien and Catherine Galwey, he was related to many of the public figures of his day. His paternal uncle, Maurice O'Brien, was Protestant bishop of Killaloe (d. 1613); his grandfather, Sir Geoffrey Galwey, was recusant mayor of Limerick in the early 1600s. Terence, educated at St. Peter Martyr Priory in Toledo, Spain, was ordained there c. 1628. After returning to Limerick, he labored in Ireland until 1643, when he was elected provincial of the Irish Dominicans. While attending a general chapter in Rome (1644), he sought assistance for the Irish Confederation, then in revolt against the English. O'Brien, a strong supporter of the Papal Nuncio Giovanni rinuccini in the internal and factional struggles within Irish Catholicism, was created bishop of Emly on Rinuccini's recommendation in 1647, and consecrated at Waterford, April 2, 1648. The increasing strength of the Parliamentarians' offensive against the Irish rebels led to his eventual capture after the surrender of Limerick in October 1651. He was condemned to death "as an original incendiary of the rebellion," and executed by the English; he is generally regarded as a martyr.

Bibliography: r. bagwell, Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 14:773774. m. j. hynes, The Mission of Rinuccini (Dublin 1932). j. o'heyn and a. coleman, Irish Dominicans of the 17th Century (Dundalh 1902).

[p. s. mc garry]

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