Gearóid O'Sullivan Obituaries 1948 | Origins of the Flag

An obituary is a report of a person’s death published in a newspaper, and it usually includes a brief biography of the deceased person.

When O’Sullivan died, The Irish Times, The Cork Examiner, and the Irish Press each published obituaries, indicating some important features of his life. the obituaries are substantial and allow for more extended historical analysis and can be read below.

The Irish Press, 26, 27 march 1948, p7
The Irish Press, 26, 27 march 1948, p7

The Irish Press, 26, 27 March 1948, p7

The Irish Times, 26 March 1948, p 7
The Irish Times, 26 March 1948, p 7

The Irish Times, 26 March 1948, p7

The Cork Examiner, 27 March 1948, p6
The Cork Examiner, 27 March 1948, p6

The Cork Examiner, 27 March 1948, p6

Read this short account of his career to 1924, taken from the introduction to his pension file

File includes material relating to subject's receipt of a military service pension in respect of his service from 1 April 1916 to 30 September 1923 through the 1916 Easter Rising, War of Independence, Truce Period and Civil War.

Claimant served as a member of Seán MacDiarmada's staff, an organiser for the Irish Volunteers in Carlow and Cork and Adjutant General of the Irish Volunteers, IRA and National Army.

He resigned from the Defence Forces on 20 March 1924. File contains signed (sic) statements regarding claimant's service from Pádraig O’Caoimh, Colm O’Murchadha, Mortimer O’Connell, and Diarmuid O’hEigceartuigh (Diarmuid O’Hegarty).

File also contains information relating to his (second) wife, three daughters, son, and brother, and makes reference to his position as

  1. An elected representative
  2. Secretary to the Board of Assessors Military Service Pensions Act 1924
  3. Barrister at law
  4. Judge Advocate General of the Defence Forces and
  5. Special Commissioner of Income Tax.

File also notes five further addresses provided by the subject.

Gearóid O’Suilleaváin married Maude (Elizabeth) Kiernan, sister of Kitty Kiernan and daughter of Peter and Bridget Kiernan, Greville Arms Hotel, Granard, County Longford in 1922. Married Mary Brennan, Belfast following the death of his first wife

Source: Gearoid O’Súilleaváin, Military Pensions Board, SP 1369, introduction to file

In Your Opinion

Select any two of the obituaries, and then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Identify two similarities, and two differences between the two obituaries. Why, in your view, do the newspapers sometimes contain the same information, and, at other times, present a different picture?
  2. What is the benefit of an obituary for an historian who is studying the life of Gearóid O’Sullivan?
  3. How can obituaries help historians to understand the significant changes that took place in Ireland?
  4. What importance was attached by the obituary writers to the hoisting of the tricolour over the G.P.O.?

For each question, give some examples for the two selected obituaries to support your opinion.

Read the information on O'Sullivan that was contained in his pension file.

  1. What information is contained here that suggests O'Sullivan was a person of talent?
  2. What special detail was noted about the family of his wife?

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