Second bishop of Hartford, Conn.; b. Columkille, County Longford, Ireland, 1803; d. at sea, Jan. 23, 1856.
He studied at Grand Seminaire, Montreal, Canada, and St. Mary's College, Baltimore, Md., before his ordination in October of 1831. He did parish work in Brooklyn and Rochester, N.Y., until 1847, when he became vicargeneral of the new Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y. In 1850 he was named to succeed William Tyler as bishop of Hartford. After his consecration at Rochester on November 10, the new bishop concentrated his efforts on obtaining more clergy for a territory served by only seven priests and five churches. In 1851 he brought the Sisters of Mercy into his diocese and courageously protected them from attack by a Know-Nothing mob. He went to Dublin, Ireland, the following year and brought back a number of priests. During his episcopate, he provided the diocese with 34 new churches, 14 new schools, three orphan asylums, and St. Mary's Seminary, Providence, R.I., which he founded in 1851. It was on a trip to Europe to seek the help of the Brothers of the Christian Schools that O'Reilly was drowned, when his ship, the Pacific, sank with all aboard.
[j. l. morrison]