Image of Dr Gillian O'Brien

Dr Gillian O'Brien

Humanities and Social Science

Faculty of Arts Professional and Social Studies

Gillian O'Brien is Professor of Public History

She is the author of 'The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland's Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion', (Doubleday, 2020) ( and "Blood Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago" (University of Chicago Press, 2015) ( She is also the editor (with Finola O'Kane) of 'Georgian Dublin' and 'Portraits of the City: Dublin and the Wider World' and has also published work on the history of Irish convents, Irish republicanism, newspaper and journalism history, the history of Primary Education in Ireland. Her BA and MA are from University College Dublin and her PhD from the University of Liverpool.

She is currently working on a number of projects including books on the Irish in America from the Civil War to the turn of the twentieth century and on Crime and Dark Tourism in Ireland. She is also involved in a collaborative study with Jessie Castle (an architectural historian and Visiting Research Fellow at LJMU) on an architectural and social history of convents in eighteenth and nineteenth century Ireland. In addition she is interested in the history of women journalists in America and representations of the Irish in the illustrations of Thomas Nast. Gillian is also involved in a number of public history projects and has been the historical advisor for museum and heritage scheme including the development of Spike Island in Co. Cork, Ireland and work on Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse in Co. Dublin and Nano Nagle Place in Cork city. As part of her work on museums and heritage centres she has published 'Inception, Development, Operation: A Report on Best Practice for Site-Specific Museums and Heritage Centres' (2018) and 'Beyond Storytelling: Exhibiting the Past (2020)

Gillian is the Programme Leader for the MA in Modern History and module leader for 'Ireland 1690-1922'; 'Celebration and Commemoration in Irish History' and 'Revolutionary Traditions in Ireland'

Gillian would welcome proposals from potential postgraduate students on topics including: eighteenth and nineteenth century Ireland; the history of religious orders in Ireland; Irish-America; newspaper history; history of memory and commemoration, 'Dark Tourism' among other topics.

Gillian can be found on twitter: @gillianmobrien or via her website


University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, PhD
University College Dublin, Ireland, MA
Univerity College Dublin, Ireland, BA

Academic appointments

Professor of Public History, History, Liverpool John Moores University, 2023 - present
Reader in Modern Irish History, History, Liverpool John Moores University, 2015 - 2023

Books (authored)

O'Brien G. 2023. Dark Tourism and Prison Museums in Ireland Cork University Press. Cork Publisher Url

O'Brien G. 2020. The Darkness Echoing. Exploring Ireland's Places of Famine, Death & Rebellion Doubleday UK 9781781620502 Publisher Url

O'Brien G. 2015. Blood Runs Green The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago The University of Chicago Press 9780226248950 Publisher Url

O'Brien G, FitzGerald G, FitzGerald J, Murphy M, O Grada C. 2013. Primary Education in Ireland Royal Irish Academy. Dublin Publisher Url

O'Brien GPM. 2012. Portrait of the City: Framing the Significance of the Historic Urban Landscape, O'Brien G, O'Kane F. Four Courts Press. Dublin 978-1-84682-346-6 Publisher Url

O'Brien GPM. 2008. Georgian Dublin O'Brien G, O'Kane F. Four Courts Press. Dublin 978-1-84682-122-6 Publisher Url

Journal article

O'Brien G. 2023. Ships, Sugar and Slavery: Catholics, Provisioning and Eighteenth-Century Cork Eighteenth-Century Ireland, 38 :111-129 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

O'Brien GPM. 2017. '"I am building a house": Nano Nagle's Georgian Convents Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, 19 Publisher Url Public Url

O'Brien GPM. 1998. “‘Spirit, Impartiality and Independence”: The Northern Star, 1792-97’ Eighteenth-Century Ireland, :7-23


O'Brien G. 2022. Artefact or Relic? Harper C. Stained and Bloodied Cloths of Ireland Peeters Publishers, Belgium. Belgium Publisher Url

O'Brien GPM. 2021. Readiness and Range: Margaret Sullivan, Irish Nationalist, American Journalist Politics, Culture, and the Irish American Press 1784–1963 :182-200 Syracuse University Press DOI Publisher Url Public Url

O'Brien GPM. 2018. Methodology and Martyrs Herman PC. Terrorism and Literature 0 :70-89 Cambridge University Press. Cambridge 9781108699303 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

O'Brien GPM. 2012. ”And all her ghosts that walk”: Commemorating the past in Dublin’s future’ O'Brien G, O'Kane F. Portrait of the City: Framing the Significance of the Historic Urban Landscape Four Courts Press 978-1-84682-346-6 Publisher Url

O'Brien GPM. 2012. ‘Revolution, Rebellion and the Viceroyalty, 1789-99’ Gray P, Purdue O. The Irish Lord Lieutenancy :114-131 UCD Press. Dublin 978-1906359607 Publisher Url

O'Brien GPM. 2011. Patriotism, Professionalism and the Press: The Chicago Press & Irish Journalists, 1875-1900’ ‘Not so much a profession as a disease’ Irish Journalism: A Historical Anthology :120-134 Manchester University Press. Manchester 978-0719084522 Publisher Url

O'Brien G. 2011. ‘The Future of the Past’ Dublin’s Future – New Visions on Ireland’s Capital City :209-225 Liffey Press. Dublin 978-1-908308-12-2 Publisher Url

O'Brien GPM. 2008. ‘“What can possess you to go to Ireland?”: Perceptions of Dublin in the late Georgian Period’ O'Brien G, O'Kane F. Georgian Dublin :9-24 Four Courts Press. Dublin 978-1-84682-122-6 Publisher Url

O'Brien G. 2001. “‘Ireland must be our province if she will not be persuaded to a Union”: British policy in Ireland 1795-98’ Keogh D, Whelan K. Acts of Union :106-125 Four Courts Press. Dublin Publisher Url

O'Brien G. A captive audience: Irish prison museums and their visitors Purdue O, Hannan L. Public History in Ireland Difficult Histories Routledge. London Publisher Url


Burns Library/Irish Studies Fellow, Boston University. 2022

Mayflower Descendats of Chicago Research Award, Newberry Library, Chicago. 2015

Hibernian Research Award, Cushwa Centre, University of Notre Dame, 2012

Fulbright Scholar, Fulbright Commission, 2009

Membership of professional bodies:

Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2015

Fellow, Royal Historical Society,

Other invited event:

Modern Irish History Seminar, University of Edinburgh, 'Telling the Same Old Story': Memory and Irish History. 2015

Blood Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Guilded Age Chicago, Chicago History Museum, An invited talk to the Guild of the Chicago History Museum. 2015

Hibernian Lecture, University of Notre Dame, Invited lecture. 2015

Media Coverage:

Media Coverage relating to "Blood Runs Green"