The O'Brien Summer School
In 2014, Ireland commemorated the millennium of the death of its famous first national monarch, High King Brian Boru. The public events surrounding this brought Irish history and heritage into the limelight and sparked the imaginations and interests of the many thousands of people who enjoyed participating in them.
Building on this, The O’Brien Summer School (TOBSS) is an educational initiative to make Irish history and heritage more readily accessible to all. Founded by Patrons Lord James and Lady Cheryl O’Brien, TOBSS is supported by a Management Group comprising Lord Inchiquin, Chief of the Name, Conor O’Brien; Professor David Ditchburn, Head of the Medieval History Research Group at Trinity College, Dublin; Moira O’Brien, Board Member of the O’Brien Clan Foundation, Brona Moriarty, Community Liaison Officer at the Killaloe-Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre and Professor Howard Clarke, University College, Dublin.
TOBSS organises non-profit events on an ad hoc basis, each event themed around an era or aspect of Irish history from the 10th century onwards. TOBSS long term aim is also to build synergy between all in Ireland who invest effort into historical matters, including career and hobby historians, heritage access providers, cultural tourism promoters, teachers, students and the general public - to add value to the common understanding of Ireland's extraordinary past and to publish where suitable.
The inaugural TOBSS event was its First International Symposium, covering ‘The Era of King Brian Boru, 10th-11th centuries’. This took place on 2-3 July 2016 in Killaloe, County Clare, the historic birthplace of King Brian Boru and home to his court. The event included talks from eight renowned experts in the field, an expert-guided field trip to local sites relating to King Brian Boru, a reception and a 'Brian Boru BBQ' with traditional Irish music and medieval mummery. Details of the Symposium Programme can be found on the Programme Page of this website.
We are currently working on making available on this website, on a pay-to-access basis, full audio recordings of all the presentations made at the Symposium.
Local Press Comment
Here are a couple of articles that appeared in the Clare newspapers in advance of the first symposium:
Prof. Howard Clarke
We are delighted to welcome Professor Howard Clarke, one of our esteemed speakers at the forthcoming TOBSS Symposium to our Management Team.
Besides having pursued a distinguished academic career, Howard has served as the chairman of the Friends of Medieval Dublin for 12 years, the academic secretary of the Royal Irish Academy for 4 years and is currently one of the new directors of the Discovery Programme.
Having acquired the Official O'Brien Clan Replica of the sword of King Brian Boru, TOBSS Founders are liaising with authorities in Armagh city to arrange an indefinite loan of the sword to Armagh, so that it may be displayed for public viewing in Armagh Tourist Information Centre. Armagh City Council will be producing an information panel telling the Brian Boru story to display alongside the weapon, a formidable two-handed broadsword over 6ft long and weighing 11 lbs. Check back here for details of the date of the sword presentation ceremony, which will take place sometime during 2017.
Philanthropic Donations to TOBSS Fund
We invite anyone who supports TOBSS’ aims of making Irish history and heritage accessible to all to donate to TOBSS Fund to assist with TOBSS First International Symposium costs. Altogether we aim to raise 5,000 Euros to facilitate this inaugural event. Delegate fees, grants and commercial sponsorship will then supplement the Fund to enable future TOBSS events to become self-supporting. We will send a thank-you gift to each and every individual sponsor who donates 50 Euros or more. Donation cheques in Euros made out to ‘The O’Brien Summer School’ can be sent to Brona Moriarty, c/o TOBSS Donations, Killaloe-Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre, Main Street, Killaloe, Co Clare, Ireland. Alternatively you can make a direct bank transfer to the TOBSS trust account, Sort Code 93-54-17; Acc. No. 07738010, but, if appropriate, do remember to email us to let us know where to send your thank-you gift!
Easiest of all is to send your donation using the Paypal donations button which is at the foot of every page on this website. Thank you for supporting TOBSS!
Commercial Sponsorship of TOBSS
The TOBSS Founding Patrons have donated seed funding to the TOBSS Fund and TOBSS is applying for appropriate grants, but more help will be appreciated. Commercial sponsor company names (and logos, if provided) will be listed on this website, the TOBSS Facebook page and delegate literature. If you would like to support TOBSS with a cash donation, please use any of the payment methods listed under the 'Philanthropic Sponsorship' section of this website.
The Brian Boru BBQ
Held outdoors on the evening of 2 July, 2016, this was the first time a medieval-style social event of this kind had been held in Killaloe/Ballina. Trestle tables with lantern candles and bench seats framed a central performance area strewn with straw, all housed under a waterproof awning - creating with elegant simplicity a totally medieval feel. Local young traditional Irish musicians played, much as they might have to King Brian at his court feasts in the palace of Kincora and then diners were delighted by a fabulous performance put on for their pleasure by seven members of the Armagh Mummers, who told tales of old, to music, dressed in ancient garb with hand-woven wicker horse head and other animal masks. The entertainment, along with a substantial and tasty meal, made this a most memorable evening and over fifty people attended and enjoyed the event.