1/22/2006

The O'Brien Chronicle

If I accomplished nothing else in this life, I take great pride in helping to preserve http://thenewwildgeese.com/profiles/blogs/the-o-brien-chronicle for future generations an important piece of Irish history, The O'Brien Chronicle. He was one of the Wild Geese, whose legacy continues through the Irish Brigade in the Civil War to the Fighting 69th today.

It is the story of Bernardo O'Brien who was dispossessed of his vast lands and castles in 1622, imprisoned in London, put on a ship to the New World, and spent decades warring in Brazil and eventually found his way back to Europe in hopes of getting back his land.

Friar Martin McDonnell who spent decades with indigenous people in the upper Amazon actually saved it by locating the ancient manuscript in San Paulo National Brazil Library, then translating from over seven languages and 15 dialects. I just spent 10 years trying to get it a wider audience. The Wild Geese, and particularly Joe Gannon, although in utter disbelief about the tale because of how fantastic and strange it was, eventually put it on there website, thereby preserving it for future generations.

Martin also had a large number of the Irish Magazine An Claideam Soluis, which he saved from the dustbin of history in the 1950's when the Catholic University library was throwing them out and where he was getting a PhD in Irish Studies, he saved them and gave them to me to preserve (somehow).

After much research, I gave to the American Irish Historical Center in New York City and to a guy in Ireland who I knew was a self-taught Irish scholar and who would use them well. As all the leaders in the Easter Rebellion are well represented in its pages, and it is written in both Irish and English, it is a rich resource for anyone studying that period of Irish history.

Martin's stories in Brazil as a Franciscan with the indigenous people almost rival O'Brien's. Twelve years ago he suffered cardiac arrest and saw the white light. As he says, he was skipping confidently into heaven happier than he had even been and told St. Peter "I'm ready" only to be told by St. Peter, "No, we're not ready for you yet." Martin says he shook his fist at St. Peter and said, "You dirty rat!" and woke up in a hospital. He was given a few weeks to live...12 years ago. Anne has to be given great credit for his recovery and the quality of his life since that time.

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