Nicholas O’Donnell’s Autobiography


Nicholas O’Donnell’s Autobiography
by Val Noone
Ballarat Heritage Services
supportd by the Hotham History Project
North Melbourne, 2017



Summary: Nicholas O’Donnell’s Autobiography is a gem of family and social history. Born in 1862 at Bullengarook in central Victoria, O’Donnell spent part of his schooling in North Melbourne, and graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne. He married New Zealand-born Molly Bruen and established a medical practice in Victoria Street, North Melbourne, from 1886 until he retired due to ill health in 1919. Nicholas includes descriptions of his memories of North and West Melbourne when he first arrived in the late 1860s. Molly and Nicholas were community leaders and prominent campaigners for Irish Home Rule. Nicholas was a Gaelic scholar and one of the founders of the Celtic Club. Before the arrival of the internet, he researched his and his wife’s parents and scores of others who migrated from Ireland, especially Limerick. Although O’Donnell died in 1920 before publishing his findings, his descendants cared for his manuscript. Val Noone has edited O’Donnell’s hand-written pages, adding an Introduction and an Epilogue. This is an attractively illustrated volume of 344 pages.