We recently had an enquiry for information about letters that are contained in the Kevin Izod O’Doherty Collection, 1849 – 1927. The letters are written by the Rev. William Hickey of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Settle, Yorkshire, to Eva O’ Doherty and also from the publisher to the Rev. William Hickey regarding her work. MARY EVA KELLY was born in Headford, County Galway c.1828 and was little more than a child when she began to write verse. She was educated at home by her mother and a governess. Eva was to become known as ‘Eva of the Nation’ after many of her poems were published in the ‘Nation’, a newspaper published by the Young Ireland movement. She married Kevin Izod O’ Doherty and they briefly resided in Geelong and Sydney, before settling in Queensland, first in Ipswich, then, permanently, in Brisbane. Her poems were published by Messrs. Gill and Son in 1909, a year before her death. They were edited by Seamus MacManus with a preface by the Rev. William Hickey. Father Hickey wrote, “that the book will find its way into the hands of many a Celt at home and in exile, embracing as it does the deep thoughts and feelings of a patriotic poetess, and now the sole survivor of that brilliant band of writers who in other days brought a new soul into Ireland“. Further biographical information on Mary Eva O’Doherty can be found on From Ireland – Irish Ancestry, Genealogy & Family History website.
Dr Kevin Izod O’Doherty was a Brisbane physician and Irish patriot. He was transported to Van Dieman’s Land for his involvement in the Irish uprising in 1848. He was a member of both the Queensland Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. While serving in Legislative Assembly he introduced and passed the first Health Act of Queensland in 1872.
The John Oxley Library’s collections include several items relating to the work of Eva O’ Doherty and can be viewed at the State Library of Queensland on level 4.
Papers relating to publication of poems held at OM71-6.
Janette Garrad – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland