Finding Aloysius O’Brien

As often happens when you have over 25 years of slides and negatives in binders and boxes, some still not filed and cataloged, you stumble across gems you’ve lost or forgotten about. I’ve photographed Mr. O’Brien a number of times over the years but found an envelope this weekend while moving stuff with this neg in it. It was from a shoot returned from Macleans magazine and the camera proof says it appeared in the July 17, 2000 issue. It was tossed in a box for future filing …that never happened …until today.

Aloysius O’Brien was billed as “the last Irish Gaelic speaker” in St. John’s. He and his brothers ran a traditional “old world” farm at the foot of Mount Scio in the north of the city. The house, Thimble Cottage, won a Southcott Award from the Newfoundland Historic Trust for the preservation of traditional architecture. He was the personification of the cultural and social history that connect Newfoundland and Ireland.

Mr. O’Brien died in August 2008 at age 93 and St. John’s is lesser for it. For more on Aloysius O’Brien check out Joan Sullivan’s wonderful obituary from the Globe and Mail at the time.

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