This exhibition, written by Ian Kenneally, was held in Millmount Museum, Drogheda, during 2015. It describes the ongoing research into O’Reilly’s life and tells the story of an extraordinary new discovery: a letter in O’Reilly’s own hand written shortly after his famed escape from Western Australia.
This letter, entombed in a drawer for one-hundred and forty-five years, was recently rediscovered in San Francisco. John Boyle O’Reilly lived life on an epic scale but in the exhibition we see him at his most vulnerable, amid a time of intense personal turmoil.
We also discover more about his relationship with Jessie Woodman and the later rumours that they had a baby together. Combining evidence from the United States and Western Australia, the exhibition also charts what happened to Jessie after O'Reilly escaped the penal colony in 1869.
The exhibition provides us with a glimpse into a relationship which has remained veiled for over a century.