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From mature student to published author for Kilrush’s Paul

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*Dr. Paul O’Brien. Photograph: Press 22

Clare academic, Dr. Paul O’Brien kicked off the month with the launch of his first publication, The Glynns of Kilrush, County Clare, 1811–1940: Family, business and politics.
A native of Kilrush, Paul’s book examines the fortunes of the entrepreneurial Glynn family who first came to prominence of the 19th century. Published by Four Courts Press, it explores their networking strategies, business acumen, and traces the rapid expansion of their business activity from small-scale corn millers to proprietors of several enterprises including shipping concerns and railways.

According to Dr O’Brien “The book addresses the issue of middle-class identity, examining the ways in which it was constructed and represented to the wider community. It also explores the mechanisms used by the middle classes to establish and maintain their economic, social and cultural hegemony, and how these were reproduced down the Glynn generations.”

Launching the publication Professor David Dickson, Trinity College Dublin highlighted, “The social history of Irish business families has rarely been attempted, but Paul O’Brien has done just that.  He has given us a most revealing study of the Glynns, the merchant princes of Kilrush, and he has done full justice to the superb family archive on which this handsome book is based.” The official launch took place at Mary Immaculate College where those in attendance travelled from Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Clare and beyond.

Dr O’Brien, who is a recipient of the Military Heritage Trust of Ireland award for his research into recruitment practices during the First World War, received his doctorate from the Department of History at Mary Immaculate College in 2016 under the supervision of Dr Maura Cronin.  This publication is a monograph based on his PhD thesis for which he was given access to the Glynn family archive, c.1790-1980.

In 2016, he was a research fellow at the Irish College, Paris in 2016 and ten years previous joined the Limerick college as a mature student on the Liberal Arts programme in 2006, studying history and philosophy.

Paul explained his reasons for returning to education were solely to better himeself. “The quality of teaching and supervision which I received during the course of my undergraduate degree inspired my decision to continue my studies in History to postgraduate level”.

His decision was also helped by the awarding of an Assistantship which not only offered a fee waiver but presented the chance to teach tutorials during the course of his research. These teaching duties in turn would nurture his lecturing ability, a role he would become more familiar with, he is currently a lecturer in the Academic Learning Centre, a department within MIC offering academic support to undergraduate students.

The Glynns of Kilrush, County Clare, 1811–1940: Family, business and politics is available to purchase in book stores and online.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, and A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to -

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