The cover of Old Athlone Society members Dr. Patrick Murray and Dr. Paul Murray's new book about Kathleen O'Connell.

New book about Kathleen O’Connell written by two Athlonians

A new book has been written about the life of Éamon de Valera's personal secretary Kathleen O’Connell by historians and Old Athlone Society members Dr Patrick Murray and Dr Paul Murray.

Kathleen is almost invariably associated with Éamon de Valera which is because she found meaning in life from her unwavering attachment to whatever cause he espoused. For this reason, any record of her life is bound to throw insights of varying quality on several aspects of de Valera’s career and outlook.

Some of his documentary materials, which she compiled and preserved, particularly her diaries and her confidential communications from de Valera, are extremely important historical records. This book will confirm her right to be recognised as a historically significant figure.

Officially, Ms O’Connell was de Valera’s personal secretary. This book highlights how her role was much more extensive than that. De Valera himself frequently made it clear, at critical phases of his life, for example his imprisonment in 1923 and particularly his total loss of sight in 1952, that he would find it virtually impossible to sustain a political career without Ms O'Connell's continuous assistance.

The research undertaken in the production of this book explores some surprising occurrences. A fascinating discovery was that Ms O’Connell’s great-uncle, Jeremiah O’Sullivan, who was a Fenian, based in London, tried to free another Fenian, imprisoned in Clerkenwell Jail, by using a wheelbarrow full of explosives. As a result of the explosion, the roof of the jail was blown off and the debris killed several passers-by. Jeremiah was able to escape and made it to the USA.

Patrick Murray has published many scholarly works on English Literature and Irish History including studies of Shakespeare, Milton, Synge and Beckett. His book 'Oracles of the God' dealing with Church-State relations in Ireland, is a standard work of reference for any scholar who wishes to understand the Irish Civil War and the period immediately following it. His work on Éamon de Valera is widely acclaimed. He has been a contributor to The Dictionary of National Biography, The Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy and Analecta Hibernica.

Paul Murray is an author and researcher and has written extensively on Partition, the Irish Boundary Commission and the Irish border. He has contributed articles to a number of historical journals.

The book costs €35 and is available to purchase at