Ernie O’Malley was a significant figure in the War of Independence and Civil War, 1916-1924. After suffering from his capture by the British army in 1920, his torture, a second capture by the Irish Free State army in 1922 when severely wounded and 41-day hunger strike, when he got out of internment camp in July 1924, he traveled in Europe for two years to recover his health before returning to his medical studies in Dublin in 1926. He then wandered around the United States and Mexico while writing for seven years before returning to Ireland in 1935 to marry an American artist, Helen Hooker. They settled down in Ireland and had three children. Once back in Ireland, Ernie became an established figure in the literary and artistic circles and had a broad interest in archeology, folklore, music, photography of ancient monuments and monasteries, poetry, oral history and history generally. He wrote book reviews, articles on the arts and was book editor of the Bell magazine (1947-48). His only book published during his lifetime, On Another Man’s Wound, was published to great acclaim in 1936. His sequel memoir on the Civil War, The Singing Flame, was published in 1978. Other published works include, Rising Out: Sean Connolly of Longford, 1890-1921 (2007) and Nobody’s Business: Aran Diaries of Ernie O’Malley (2018). Two volumes of his correspondence and two biographies have been published. He died prematurely at 59 in bad health in 1957.
Cormac O’Malley, who was raised in Newport, Co. Mayo, is the son of Ernie O’Malley, Irish nationalist and author of the autobiographical memoirs, On Another Man’s Wound, The Singing Flame, and Raids and Rallies. Cormac’s mother was Helen Hooker, an accomplished American artist from Connecticut. After Cormac’s father died when he was 14, Cormac moved to the USA to live with his mother and two siblings.
After attending Harvard College, serving with the U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific, and completing Columbia Law School, Cormac worked for 10 years in an international law firm on Wall Street. He then practiced as an international corporate lawyer for twenty years posted to Mexico, Brussels, London and New York. Upon retiring in 1999, Cormac served as an international legal consultant concentrating on American investment in Ireland. He continues to publish and preserve his family’s remarkable legacy and their contributions to Irish and American history and the arts.
From the time Cormac wrote his Harvard thesis on Irish history, he has maintained a vibrant interest in Irish matters particularly the arts and history. He has been custodian of his father’s exceptional archives and collections and has served on boards of several Irish-related charities. In more recent years, Cormac has been President of the Board of Advisors at Glucksman Ireland House, New York University’s Centre for Irish and Irish American Studies, and on multiple other boards and committees including the Irish American Cultural Institute (IACI) in New Jersey and the American Friends of the Arts in Ireland (AFAI).
Cormac has helped preserve his father’s literary and historical image by editing and republishing his earlier well-known works. In recent years Cormac has co-edited No Surrender Here: The Civil War Papers of Ernie O’Malley, 1922-1924, regarding his father’s role in the Irish Civil War, edited Broken landscapes: Selected Letters of Ernie O’Malley, 1924-1957, a newly discovered memoir by his father, and co-edited Broken Landscapes, Selected Letters of Ernie O’Malley, 1922-1924. Cormac also embarked on a multi-volume series of his father’s military interviews with survivors of Ireland’s War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, entitled The Men Will Talk to Me for which he co-edited volumes on Kerry, Galway, and Mayo. West Cork (2015) and Clare (2016) have been edited by others. In 2015 he co-edited Western Ways, a book of photographs taken by his parents in County Mayo during the 1930s. His most recent book as editor, is Modern Ireland and Revolution, Ernie O’Malley in Context (Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 2016). He has contributed to multiple books, articles, workshops, videos, documentaries and films.
Cormac has given his father’s non-nationalist papers to New York University’s Archives of Irish America and Ernie O’Malley’s nationalist papers to the University College Dublin Archives. He also consulted with Jerry O’Callaghan on the making of the 2008 documentary on his father’s life.
Cormac curated an exhibition called “Sculptured Lives” of his mother’s sculpture, painting and photography at the Irish Consulate in New York and later at Boston College in 2009-2010. In 2012 he curated an exhibition on “Art and Revolution: The Life of Ernie O’Malley” at Tamiment Library in NYU. In 2014 he participated in the Ernie O’Malley Symposium on Modern Ireland and Revolution at NYU. He has also written articles for Irish Arts Review, New Hibernian Review and lectured on many campuses.
Cormac now lives and works in Stonington, Connecticut.
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Details for Activities for Cormac K H O’Malley
1948-1950: homeschooling, Mayo
1950-1952: Mount Sackville Convent, Dublin
1952-1956: Willow Park, Blackrock College, Co Dublin
1956-1957: Ampleforth College, York, England
1957-1958: Fountain Valley School, Colorado Springs, Colorado
1958-1961: Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Massachusetts
1961-1965: Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1967-1970: Columbia University Law School, New York City, New York
More Detailed Analysis
1957 After death of Irish father, Ernie O’Malley, Cormac went to live with American mother, Helen Hooker O’Malley in the United States, and never returned to live permanently in Ireland.
1963 Cormac spent his 21st summer in Ireland attending UCD and TCD summer schools; gave some of Ernie O’Malley nationalist military papers to the National Library of Ireland.
1963 Cormac helped organize exhibition of Jack B. Yeats’ paintings at Sligo County Library where Nora Niland was Curator
1964-69 At the request of Irish Ambassador to the US, William Fay, Cormac became an occasional advisor to the American Irish Foundation, on which Board, the Ambassador sat, and thereafter continued advice in connection with potential projects in the arts in Ireland.
1965 Cormac helped organize exhibition of Jack B. Yeats’ paintings at MIT Gallery as part of the first
significant Boston Irish Arts Festival
1970 Cormac worked for three months at Citibank in Ireland researching two important legal issues and then made oral history recordings of some friends of Ernie O’Malley such as Sean Lemass, Peadar O’Donnell and others.
1971-1973 After the introduction by the Northern Ireland Government of internment in early August 1971, Cormac participated in a television debate with John Taylor, MP, and two others on one side and Michael Flannery of Irish Northern Aid and Sean Ryan of Sinn Fein regarding the current state of affairs in Northern Ireland. That interview started three years’ of activities associated with the American Committee for Ulster Justice (ACUJ); in late January, 1972 Cormac – as Publicity Coordinator – helped lead a Metroliner March on Washington (January 26, 1972) to make the US Congress more aware of the actual circumstances in Northern Ireland. At the request of Senator Edward Kennedy and Congressman Hugh Carey immediately after Bloody Sunday on January 31, 1972, Cormac assisted in organizing three days of Congressional Hearings on Norther Ireland on February 28, 29, and March 1, and thereafter helped having materials submitted for the publication of the Report on the Congressional Hearings
1971 March 1, Cormac debated the Consul General of Great Britain in New York, Hon John Forde before the Human Rights Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York on the topic of Northern Ireland, and the Committee agreed in conclusion to support the Hearings in Congress by sending a telegram of support.
1971-1973 Honorary Librarian, American Irish Historical Society, New York, where Cormac helped reorganize their library and put on an exhibition of their art collection.
1973-1976 Chairman, New York City Irish Fortnight Committee, for Dr Eoin McKiernan’s Irish American Cultural Institute, which had Irish lecturers flow through New York each night for two full weeks.
1974-1976 Founder and President of the Irish American National Bicentennial Committee which was intended to help ensure that Irish cultural elements were included in the American celebration of their bicentennial, with emphasis on the original thirteen states.
1974 Cormac established the Ernie O’Malley Trust for his historical and nationalist papers at the Archives of University College Dublin (P17), and acted as a trustee until 2015.
1974-2005 Member, Board of Directors, Irish Georgian Society, Inc. the aim of which was to raise funds in the United States to support the work of the Irish Georgian Society in Ireland.
1975-1981 Cormac participated in the founding of The Ireland Fund (which subsequently changed its
name to the American Ireland Fund [now the AIF] with Tony O’Reilly, Dan Rooney and others, the aim of which was to support charities, arts and peace endeavors in the entire island of Ireland. Cormac was on the initial Board of Directors, and acted as Secretary for 1976-1977, but resigned when assigned abroad for his corporate posting in 1981. He also served on the Irish Advisory Board for several years.
1978-1981 Cormac helped secure Irish Government approval for construction of the Mayo O’Malley Museum in Castlebar, Co Mayo to house the Helen O’Malley (Roelofs) Art Collection which had been given to the Irish American Cultural Institute; ultimately in 1984 a successor government decided not to fund the building of the museum and ownership of the Collection has remained with the Irish American Cultural Institute ever since.
1981 Cormac presented a large collection of his personal papers relating to Irish-American cultural and political activities to St John’s University, New York, but these archives were subsequently transferred to the Archives of Irish American (#060) at New York University Library.
1981-1992 Cormac lived in Brussels and London working as international counsel for Bristol-Myers Company, including having responsibility for their Irish subsidiaries.
1983 Cormac provided extensive assistance to Padraig O’Farrell for his biography, The Ernie O’Malley Story published by Mercier Press.
1989 Cormac assisted the Irish American Cultural Institute in establishing the annual O’Malley Art Award which has provided awards to 21 Irish artists over the past 27 years.
1992 Cormac acted as counsel to his mother, Helen Hooker O’Malley (Roelofs) in preparing two trusts for a) a collection of print and negative photographs to be left to the National Library of Ireland (now the National Photographic Archive) and b) 45 of her sculpted heads and figures to the University of Limerick. Cormac has acted as Trustee of both trusts.
1992 Cormac and his family returned to New York City, and he continued his international counsel responsibilities for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
1994-1996 Cormac was elected Tanaiste and then Chieftain of the O’Malley Clan in Ireland, having participated in Clan affairs for some years. He had previously been a trustee of the Trust for the O’Malley Clan (since dissolved).
1998-2016 Member, Board of Advisors, Glucksman Ireland House, the Center for Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University in New York City, became its first President for five years in 1999, and later a member of its Executive Committee, with principal interests in founding the American Journal of Irish Studies and the Archives of Irish America.
1992 Member, newly established International Council of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
1992 Member of the Board of Directors of the revived Irish American Law Association of New York.
1998 Cormac provided extensive assistance to Richard English for his biography Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual published by Oxford University Press
1999-2012 Acted as international legal consultant for Irish subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company to manage the construction of a new pharmaceutical facility in Blanchardstown, Dublin, and other matters in Swords and Shannon, as well as a collaborative partnership, the Centre for Bio- Analytical Sciences, with Dublin City University and National University of Ireland, Galway.
2002-2012 Assisted the Irish American Cultural Institute in arranging for the nomination of an artist for the annual O’Malley Art Award, initiated by the Institute in 1989.
2007 (February) Writer-in-residence, Heinrich Boll Association, Achill, Co Mayo.
2010 Cormac gifted part of Ernie O’Malley’s non-nationalist papers to the Archives of Irish America (#060), New York University
2010 Founder and President of the American Friends of the Arts in Ireland as an American public charity aiming to support several national cultural institutions in Ireland in the fields of art, cultural history, film, music, and theatre.
2010 Cormac made further gifts of Ernie O’Malley’s nationalist papers to the University College Dublin Archive (P17) and certain non-nationalist papers to the Archives of Irish America (#060), New York University.
2012-17 Research Associate, Centre for Contemporary History, Trinity College Dublin.
2013-17 Visiting Scholar, Glucksman Ireland House, New York University.
2015 Termination of Ernie O’Malley Papers Trust at UCD and transfer of title to UCD.
1963 Assisted Nora Niland with Jack B Yeats Exhibit in Sligo Library.
1965 Helped organize exhibit of Jack B Yeats paintings at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts for the first Irish Arts Festival in Boston
1971 Loaned paintings to Jack B Yeats Centennial Exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and the Huntington Hartford Gallery in New York City.
1973-1975 organized exhibits of works of Jack B Yeats at various meetings of the American Committee
for Irish Studies (now the American Conference of Irish Studies – ACIS).
1973 Organized exhibition of works of sculpture, photography, paintings and photography of Helen Hooker O’Malley for the American Irish Historical Society, in Greenwich, Connecticut.
1979 Helped organize exhibition of works of sculpture and photography by Helen Hooker O’Malley, at the Stamford Nature Center, Stamford, Connecticut.
1980 Helped organize exhibition of paintings by Jack B Yeats and sculptural heads by Helen Hooker O’Malley at the Birmingham Museum, Birmingham, Alabama.
1991 Helped with exhibition of sculpture by Helen Hooker O’Malley at University of Limerick.
2004 Helped with exhibition of Irish American Cultural Institute’s O’Malley Art Collection at University of Limerick
2007 Helped (wrote introduction ‘Helen Hooker’s Gaze on the Orient’) with “Orientalism and the Female Gaze” exhibit at the University of Limerick.
2007 Assisted with exhibit of various works of Helen Hooker O’Malley at the Custom House, Westport Quay, Co Mayo.
2009 Curated exhibition at the Irish Consulate in New York of ‘Sculptured Lives: Helen Hooker, artist and Ernie O’Malley, soldier/writer,’ which exhibit went on to Boston College in 2010
2012 Helped (wrote introduction on ‘Helen Hooker and Ceramics’) with the “Ceramics and Glass” exhibit at the University of Limerick, and later Galway City Museum.
2015 Helped with ‘Western Ways” exhibit of photographs by Helen Hooker and Ernie O’Malley, Custom House, Westport, Co Mayo and then Belfast and Dublin.
2016 Helped (wrote preface) with the “Patrons, Prizes, Paradigms” exhibit at the University of Limerick being artists given the O’Malley Art Award by the Irish American Cultural Institute since 1989.
2002 Brehon Law Society of New York (lecture)
2003 Perry-Miller Summer School, Carlow (panel); Providence College, Rhode Island (lecture)
2005 Kildare Street & University Club, Dublin (lecture)
2006 2nd Annual Heinrich Boll Lecture, Achill (lecture)
2007 National Gallery of Ireland(lecture); National University of Ireland, Galway (lecture)
2009 Seminar Leader on the Transcription of Ernie O’Malley Military Notebooks, Centre for Contemporary History, Trinity College, Dublin
2010 Boston College, Massachusetts (lecture); Cambridge Irish Seminar, England (lecture); University of Southern, California, Los Angeles (lecture)
2011 Connecticut College, Connecticut (lecture); Oxford Irish Seminar, England (lecture)
2012 Glucksman Ireland House, New York University (lecture at time of book launch); University of Limerick Law School (lecture on international commercial distribution) ; University of Limerick Historical Studies (lecture); New York Celtic Medical Society, New York (lecture)
2013 Concordia University, Montreal, Canada (lecture); John McGahern Summer School (lecture); Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut (lecture)
2014 American Conference for Irish Studies, annual meeting, UCD (two panels); Glucksman Ireland House Ernie O’Malley Symposium on Modern Ireland and Revolution (panel); Fairfield University, Connecticut; Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina Library, Co Mayo; American Conference for Irish Studies – West, Santa Fe, New Mexico (lecture); American Conference for Irish Studies – Northeast, Massachusetts (principal lecture).
2015 County Mayo Library (on Ernie O’Malley’s life), Castlebar, Co Mayo; Kildare Street and University Club, Dublin; Little Museum of Dublin, Dublin; Mallow Historical Society, Co Cork; LaGrua Foundation, Stonington, Connecticut; County Mayo Library (on photography of Ernie O’Malley and Helen Hooker), Castlebar, Co Mayo.
2016 Newport Historical Society, Newport, Co Mayo (lecture); Quinnipiac University (reading on 1916), Hamden, Connecticut; Friends of the National Collections of Ireland (April – lecture); O’Malley Clan Rally (June- lecture).
1975 Edited, Planning Guide to an Irish American Bicentennial Celebration in Your Community, published by Irish American National Bicentennial Committee
1978 Assisted in the publication of Ernie O’Malley’s civil war memoir, The Singing Flame, published by
1979 Assisted in the re-publication of Ernie O’Malley’s memoir of the War of Independence On
Another Man’s Wound.
1982 Assisted in the publication of Ernie O’Malley’s 1955-56 ‘IRA Raids’ in the Sunday Press as Raids
and Rallies published by Anvil Press.
1991 Co-editor, Prisoners: The Civil War Letters of Ernie O’Malley, published by Poolbeg.
2000 Editor, revised edition, On Another Man’s Wound by Ernie O’Malley, published by Anvil Books in
Dublin and Roberts Rinehart in the USA.
2003 ‘Gifting the Nation’, Irish Arts Review, Winter 2003, 104-109
2003 ‘The Publication History of On Another Man’s Wound,’ New Hibernia Review, Autumn 2003, Vol 7, No 3, 136-139.
2007 Co-editor, No Surrender Here: The Civil War Papers of Ernie O’Malley, 1922-1924, published by
2007 Editor, Rising Out: Sean Connolly of Longford, 1890-1921, by Ernie O’Malley, published by UCD
2011 Co-editor, Broken Landscapes, Selected Letters of Ernie O’Malley, 1924-1957, published by
2011 Editor, revised edition of Raids and Rallies by Ernie O’Malley, published by Mercier Press.
2012 Co-editor, The Men Will Talk to Me: Kerry Interviews by Ernie O’Malley, published by Mercier
2012 Editor, revised edition of The Singing Flame by Ernie O’Malley, published by Mercier Press.
2012 ‘Ernie O’Malley as Seanachai or Story Teller,’ John McGahern Summer School Volume 4, National University of Ireland Galway, in preparation for publication.
2013 Co-editor, The Men Will Talk to Me: Galway Interviews by Ernie O’Malley, published by
2013 Editor, revised edition of On Another Man’s Wound by Ernie O’Malley, published by Mercier
2014 Co-editor, The Men Will Talk to Me: Mayo Interviews by Ernie O’Malley, published by Mercier
2014 ‘Nora Niland and James Augustus Healy,’ The Niland Collection, The Model, Home of the Niland Collection, Sligo.
2015 Co-editor with Christy Barron, Western Ways: Remembering Mayo through the Eyes of Helen Hooker and Ernie O’Malley, published by Mercier Press.
2015 Editor, revised edition, Rising Out: Sean Connolly of Longford, 1890-1921, by Ernie O’Malley, published by UCD Press.
2016 “The Rebel Path”, Irish America magazine, April/May
2016 “The Evolution of Ernie O’Malley’s Memoir, On Another Man’s Wound,’ in Modern Ireland and Revolution, Ernie O’Malley in Context, for which volume Cormac was editor, published by Irish Academic Press