Smith O'Brien was an unlikely, unwilling, and unsuccessful Irish rebel. The younger son of a protestant baronet from Co. Clare, with family links to the earls of Thomond, he was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He served in Parliament 1828–31 and from 1835 when he was returned for Co. Limerick. He moved steadily into a nationalist stance, much influenced by Young Ireland, and in 1843 declared for repeal of the Union. A rising planned for August 1848 dwindled into a farcical riot at Ballingarry, Co. Tipperary, where O'Brien explained that he did not intend any violence to property. An attack upon 46 policemen, holed up in Widow McCormack's cottage, was unsuccessful. O'Brien was sentenced to death, but pardoned against his will and transported.
Subjects: Regional and National History — Literature.