Poems by John O'Brien
(Patrick Joseph Hartigan)
Patrick Joseph Hartigan (John O'Brien) was an ordained priest whose poetry combined his dry humour and spirituality with stories from the everyday lives of the people he met. Incorporating the spirit of the Bush into his poems, they became a great success. Hartigan pictures for us what life was like for Catholic Irish-Australians pioneers.
Patrick Joseph Hartigan was born on October 13, 1878 in Yass, New South Wales, Australia. His father, Patrick Joseph Hartigan
Sr., and his mother, Mary Hartigan, were from Lisseycasey, Clare, Ireland.
After years of study, Hartigan became an ordained priest in January of 1903. Seven years later he was based in Thurgoona where he became the curator of schools for the diocese. In 1916 he was made priest in charge of Berrigan and a year later parish priest of Narrandera.
It was during his priesthood that he started writing. Using the pen name Mary Ann beginning in 1906, his work appeared in the Catholic Press, The Albury Daily News and other publications. Fifteen years later he started using the now famous pen name John O'Brien. It was under this pen name that Around the Boree Log and Other Verses was first published in 1906. It received wide acclaim not just in Australia, but in other countries as well such as the United States and Ireland. Over 18,000 copies were published in five editions.
In 1944 he retired as pastor due to his age and poor health. This didn't prevent him from becoming chaplain of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Rose Bay the same year. Semi-retired, he was appointed three years later as domestic prelate with the title Reverend Monsignor.
In 1951 Hartigan became ill with cancer. He was able to finish his final collection, On Darlinghurst Hill a year later. It was written for the centenary of the Sacred Heart Parish.
On December 27, 1952 Hartigan died in Lewisham Hospital. He is buried beside his parents in North Rocks Cemetery. He was a well respected priest, a beloved member of the community and a celebrated author.
Hartigan's (O'Brien's) works include: