Daniel Chester French

"The John Boyle O'Reilly Memorial"

Daniel Chester French's memorial to John Boyle O'Reilly was completed in 1896 and was set in what was then a rural part of Boston, the "Back Bay" section which had recently been reclaimed from the Charles River. The Back Bay included a park called the Fenway, and it is on the edge of the Fenway (not far from the Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park baseball stadium) that this memorial appears. Boston's Symphony Hall also is located in the Back Bay and today, 100 years after the placement of the O'Reilly Memorial and the building of Symphony Hall (1900), the Back Bay is a highly urbanized, build up area of Boston.

John Boyle O'Reilly was born in Ireland in 1844 and died in Boston in 1890. He was a leader in Boston's Roman Catholic community, serving as editor of "The Pilot" from 1870 until his death. He was the author of several books of poetry including "Songs of the Southern Seas", "Songs, Legends, and Ballads", "The Statues in the Block", and "In Bohemia"; and a novel, "Moondyne", based on his Australian experiences (he had been imprisoned in Australia, being sentenced to 20 years hard labor for his involvement in the Fenian movement in Ireland; he subsequently escaped from the penal colony and came to New Bedford, Massachusetts).

O'Reilly was considered an important figure in helping to assimilate Boston's Irish/Catholic immigrants with its Protestant/Yankee citizenry in the 19th century. While O'Reilly is buried in Hollyhood Cemetary in Brookline, Massachusetts, his monument stands in Boston. For more information about O'Reilly, visit the Wikpedia entry on John Boyle O'Reilly.

French's memorial consists of two castings - on one side is a allegorical representation of Erin (Ireland) surrounded by images of Patriotism and Poetry. On the other side is a bust of O'Reilly. The pedestal for the memorial is full of Celtic images including a Celtic cross, and Celtic knots.

The statue has been vandalised over time: Poetry's lyre originally had five strings; today it has only three.

Under the grouping of Erin, Patriotism and Poetry is a bronze plate which reads:

Poetry and Patriotism give
of their laurel and oak from
which Erin weaves a wreath
for her heroes

The engraving under the bust of O'Reilly reads:


All photos below were taken by Douglas Yeo in February, 2002.

A side view of Daniel Chester French's "John Boyle O'Reilly Memorial" showing the allegorical grouping of Erin, Patriotism and Poetry on the left, and the bust of O'Reilly on the right.

A front view of, from left, Patriotism, Erin and Poetry in its setting in front of a Celtic cross. Click HERE to download a higher resolution image of this photo.

A closeup of the rendering of Erin.

A closeup of the rendering of Patriotism.

A closeup of the rendering of poetry.

This is a view of the bust of O'Reilly in its setting. Click HERE to download a higher resolution image of this photo.

A closeup of the bust of O'Reilly.

The O'Reilly Memorial in its full setting, with benches surrounding the monument.

Return to the Daniel Chester French: Sculptures In Situ page.

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