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A treasure trove of letters from Limerick author Kate O’Brien

Author: Michelle Breen
When: Friday, March 10, 2017 - 15:30

The Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick is pleased to announce a major acquisition of personal letters by the Limerick author, Kate O’Brien (1897-1974).

The 500 letters written by Kate O’Brien were discovered in the papers of Dr Lorna Reynolds (1911-2003) who was Professor Emeritus of Modern English at the National University of Ireland, Galway. The University of Limerick purchased the collection of Dr Reynolds's papers at a public auction on International Women’s Day (8th March).

The Limerick writer was in correspondence with Lorna Reynolds from 1940-1969, with the largest portion of the letters written during the years 1946-1950. Lifelong friends, their letters reflect their literary, cultural and academic world of post-war Ireland. Interestingly, the archive also contains Lorna Reynolds's own letters to Kate O’Brien, written between 1946-1949. At some stage, Lorna’s letters must have been returned to her. Lorna Reynolds wrote a biography of Kate O’Brien in 1987 and the archive contains some of her notes and papers related to this work.

Dr Reynolds's papers also contain over 100 letters from Darina di Silone née Laracy (1917-2003) which begin in 1942. Darina di Silone was born in Dublin and educated in UCD. She visited Italy in May 1940 where she worked for the Herald Tribune and International News Services.  She was expelled from Italy and fled to Switzerland where she met her husband, the Italian writer Ignazio Silone. Her letters to Lorna Reynolds are full of vivid accounts of life on the continent during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Lorna Reynolds papers will require conservation and it may be some time before the collection can be made available to researchers. This latest discovery of letters from Kate O’Brien adds greatly to the significant archives of her life and work held at the Glucksman Library which represent the largest collection of personal correspondence from this iconic Irish writer. See

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