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Selected Poetry of John Boyle O'Reilly (1844-1890)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

Let me dream as of old by the river,
And be loved for the dream alway;
For a dreamer lives forever,
And a toiler dies in a day.
        (The Cry of the Dreamer, 29-32)
  1. The Cry of the Dreamer
  2. Living
  3. The Useless Ones
  4. A White Rose


Notes on Life and Works

John Boyle O'Reilly, the greatest Irishman in America at the time of his death, was born at Douth Castle, Drogheda, Ireland, on June 28, 1844. After an education at the National School, and an early career in journalism, he enlisted in the Hussars and became a Fenian. Discovery of his revolutionary sympathies led to his trial for high treason and finally to exile in the penal colony in Australia. He escaped Australia by boat and made his way to America, first Philadelphia, and then Boston, where he worked for the Pilot, a newspaper of which he eventually became editor. O'Reilly published two volumes of poems, Songs of the Southern Seas (1873) and Songs, Legends, and Ballads (1878), as well as several novels. He worked tirelessly to integrate the Roman Catholic Irish community into Protestant Boston. At his death on August 10, 1890, from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills, he left his wife Mary Murphy O'Reilly and four daughters. Daniel Chester French's memorial statue of O'Reilly stands today in Fenway Park, Boston, a testimony to the pride of its Irish natives in a poet buried in Hollyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Biographical information

Given name: John Boyle
Family name: O'Reilly
Birth date: 28 June 1844
Death date: 10 August 1890
Nationality: American
Ethnicity: Irish
Family relations
          wife: Mary O'Reilly
Religion: Roman Catholic
Occupation: Editor
Buried at: Holloyhood Cemetery, Brookline, Massachusetts
First RPO edition: 2002