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NYU Announces the Acquisition of the Ernie O’Malley Papers

February 17, 2012
N-241, 2011-12

The Papers are Now Part of NYU’s Division of Libraries and Glucksman Ireland House’s Archives of Irish America; Exhibition of Selected Works on View through April 23rd


New York University’s Division of Libraries and Glucksman Ireland House is pleased to announce the acquisition of the papers of Ernie O’Malley (1897-1957) by NYU’s Archives of Irish America.  The accompanying exhibition of the Ernie O’Malley Papers will be on display through April 23, 2012 at the Tamiment Library, 10th floor, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, (at LaGuardia Place). [Subways A,C,E, B,D,M to West 4th Street; 6 line to Astor Place; R train to 8th Street.].

The exhibition is free and open to the public. A valid state-issued photo ID is required to enter Bobst Library.  For more information on the Ernie O’Malley Papers, please visit

The Ernie O’Malley Papers, a collection of documents, correspondence and poetry from O’Malley’s life, seeks to give insight into the complex soul of one of the key figures of both the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. Of note is a series devoted to works and correspondence between O’Malley and the artist Jack B. Yeats.  The papers were donated to the Archives of Irish America in New York University's Division of Libraries by O’Malley’s son, Cormac O’Malley.

“After my dad traveled to America, he was able to transition seamlessly between his nationalist feelings and a more literary thinking,” O’Malley said. “As he traveled, Ireland became more of a romantic memory for him, with his poems glorifying its beauty rather than focusing on the war.”

The Ernie O’Malley Papers will play a significant role in the Archives of Irish America as they shed light on the Irish and American aspects of O’Malley’s life and include his manuscripts and correspondence, diaries and notebooks, and much other personal information. The manuscripts for three of his other books, The Singing Flame, Raids and Rallies, and Rising Out: Sean Connolly of Longford, 1890-1921, are also included in this trove.

About Ernie O’Malley (1897-1957): Born in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland but raised in Dublin, in 1916 joined the fight for Ireland’s independence from England.  Supporting a revolutionary rather than constitutional approach, from 1916 through the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, O’Malley rose quickly through the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Army to become a Commandant-General at twenty-four years of age.   During the subsequent Irish Civil War (June 1922 until May 1923), O’Malley opposed the Treaty and fought the Irish Free State government that supported it. He was captured and imprisoned until the end of hostilities, and his prison sojourn gave him time to read voraciously about art and history. His forty-one days on hunger strike had severe and lasting consequences for his health.

In 1928 O’Malley travelled to the United States as a fundraising emissary for Éamon de Valera’s nationalist newspaper, The Irish Press.  Nine months later, he distanced himself from Irish politics to draw inspiration from artistic communities in California, New Mexico, Mexico and New York while drafting a memoir about his experiences as an Irish soldier.  America would remain influential in his life for the next thirty years, especially through his relationship with the sculptor Helen Hooker, the daughter of a wealthy electrochemical industrialist, whom he married in September 1935.

The O’Malleys settled in Ireland on the strength of his military pension and her inheritance, raising three children together before a bitter separation in 1950. During this period, O’Malley published his memoir, On Another Man’s Wound, to great literary acclaim, then pursued writing professionally.  He became well known for his art criticism, was an editor of The Bell magazine, consulted with John Ford on two of his Irish motion pictures, and undertook a major project interviewing more than 450 survivors of the Irish War of Independence which today is a prized historical resource for scholars.

Editors notes:

The Archives of Irish America, established in 1997 as part of NYU’s Division of Libraries is a repository of primary research materials that support original scholarship in the emerging field of Irish-American Studies.  The Archives of Irish America is always interested in acquiring personal and organization papers, photographs, home movies, printed materials, oral histories, and ephemera.  The Archives has an archivist who works on its materials. Inquiries can be directed to

The NYU Division of Libraries is a six-library, 4.1 million-volume system.  Its flagship is the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, which houses 3.9 million volumes, audio-video resources, archives and special collections, and provides access to thousands of electronic resources both on-site and online.  The NYU Division of Libraries also includes the following five specialized libraries: NYU Abu Dhabi Library, Institute of Fine Arts Library, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Library, Jack Brause Library at SCPS Midtown, and the Library of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World; as well as the University Archives, Campus Media Services, and the NYU Press.  Affiliated NYU libraries include the Frederick L. Ehrman Medical Library, the John and Bertha E. Waldmann Memorial Dental Library, the Bern Dibner Library at Polytechnic Institute of NYU, and the Law Library.


This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Tamiment Library, Division of Libraries, International Houses

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Christopher James | (212) 998-6876

NYU Announces the Acquisition of the Ernie O’Malley Papers

Ernie O’Malley’s son, Cormac O’Malley

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