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John O'Brien (poet)

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Cover of 1968 edition of Hartigan's Around The Boree Log anthology first published 1921

Monsignor Patrick Joseph Hartigan (13 October 1878 – 27 December 1952) was an Australian Roman Catholic priest, educator, author and poet, writing under the name John O'Brien.


Born at Yass, New South Wales Patrick Joseph Hartigan studied at St Patrick's Seminary, Manly and St Patrick's College, Goulburn.[1] [2]

His poetry was very popular in Australia and was well received in Ireland and the United States.

Hartigan died in Lewisham, an inner suburb of Sydney, in 1952.


Hartigan wrote under the pseudonym "John O'Brien." His verse celebrated the lives and mores of the outback pastoral folk he ministered to as a peripatetic curate in the southern New South Wales and Riverina towns of Thurgoona, Berrigan and Narrandera, in the first two decades of the 20th century.[3][4]

The refrain We'll all be rooned from his poem Said Hanrahan has entered colloquial Australian English as a jocular response to any prediction of dire consequences arising, particularly, from events outside the interlocutor's control.[5]

He also wrote a number of articles on early Irish priests in Australia, later collected in The Men of '38 and Other Pioneer Priests.[6]


His most popular book of poetry was filmed in 1925 as Around the Boree Log.

A John O'Brien Festival is held annually in Narrandera.[7]


  1. ^ Australian National University, "Patrick Joseph Hartigan", Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, 12 May 2011
  2. ^ "Monsignor P.J. Hartigan's reminiscences". Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser. 26 May 1952. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  3. ^ F.A. Mecham, "John O'Brien" and the Boree Log (Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1981).
  4. ^ Franklin, James (2019). "Catholic rural virtue in Australia: ideal and reality" (PDF). Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society. 40: 39–61. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  5. ^ O’Dwyer, Tim. "We'll All Be Rooned, said Hanrahan". Lawyers Conveyancing. Archived from the original on 10 April 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2009. Echos of the well-known poem about Irish-Catholic-bush-pessimist Hanrahan* came out of the Australian Capital Territory
  6. ^ The Men of '38 and Other Pioneer Priests, by "John O'Brien" ed. T.J. Linane and F.A. Mecham, with a foreword by His Eminence Cardinal James Freeman, Kilmore Publishing, Lowden VIC, 1975.
  7. ^ "John O'Brien Festival". Narrandera Shire Council. 2011. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

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