The Hon Donough O'Brien

Born29 August 1879 Holyhead, Anglesey
Died23 September 1953 Ras - El - Soda, Alexandria, Egypt
EducatedWinchester College, Oxford University
OccupationBarrister and Antiquarian
Debut29 May 1902 v Cambridge University at Cambridge
Cap Number247
StyleRight-hand bat
TeamsCo Limerick, MCC
HistoryDonough O'Brien, a keen cricketer and useful batsman, was not in the XI at Winchester, but was well known in rural cricket in Ireland, besides playing for his College, Christ Church at Oxford. He owed his selection in 1902, to being in England and to a combination of circumstances having left Sir Timothy O'Brien (no relation) short of batsmen for the last match of Ireland's inaugural first class tour. Lucius Gwyn had returned to Dublin to his academic duties and Jack Meldon, "a risky selection"(Wisden 1903) had completely lost form and been dropped.

Donough did not let Ireland down. He was run out for 57 in the first innings, having earlier helped Frank Browning add 63 for the 4th wicket. The fact that Ireland's ultimate margin of victory was 58 shows how vital his innings was. In the second innings he was bowled for 3, by Rockley Wilson, a spinner who could turn the ball either way, and a future Test cricketer, who was seen as one of the best amateur slow bowlers in England. Ireland's win was sealed by the old firm of Bill Harrington and Tom Ross, who were too much for the Cambridge batting.

O'Brien played two first matches for MCC: v Oxford in 1906 and 1907. In the former year, batting at 8 he made 0 and 4, being out in the first innings to the fast bowling of Nicholas Udal, great uncle of the Hampshire and England off spinner. The MCC bowling attack, including expatriate Australians Frank Tarrant and Albert Trott, as well as South African leg spinner Bert Volger was much too good for the hosts. The following season, Donough was demoted to 10 in the batting order. He retorted by making his second highest first class score, 13, before falling to the bowling of eighteen year old paceman John Bowes - Lyon whose infant sister, Elizabeth, was to bring a greater fame to the family name! Donough was 0 not out at the end as Frank Tarrant saw MCC to a 2 wicket win.

He was called to the bar in 1907, and served with the Irish Guards as a Second Lieutenant in the First World War, but his main interests were in antiquities, genealogy and art. He was a member of several learned societies, being, for example a fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquarians. Fourth son of the Earl of Inchiquin, he wrote several books, including "A History of the O'Briens from Brian Boroimhe." A second cousin of the Gwynn brothers, he married the daughter of Lord Annaly, and thus became the uncle of The Hon Luke White, who made his first class debut, as an Eton schoolboy, for England v Australia in 1945. White, who succeeded to the family title in 1970, only played another five first class matches in his career. He died in 2000.

The Honourable Donough O'Brien, who always retained his cricket interest, besides becoming a good golfer, spent his last years in Egypt, where his reputation as an antiquarian was highly regarded.

Edward Liddle, October 2007

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