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Kevin Izod O'Doherty (1823–1905)

by G. Rudé

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Kevin Izod O'Doherty (1823-1905), Irish nationalist and medical practitioner, was born on 7 September 1823 in Dublin, son of William Doherty, solicitor, and his wife Ann, née McEvoy. In 1842 he commenced his studies at the Original School of Medicine, Peter Street, but in May 1848 became involved with the Young Ireland movement and as co-editor of the nationalist Irish Tribune was sentenced to transportation for treason-felony at Dublin in August. He sailed in the Mount Stewart Elphinstone to Sydney and thence in the Emma to Hobart Town, arriving on 31 October 1849. Granted a ticket-of-leave, he was allowed to settle in the Oatlands District. He became manager of the dispensary in Hobart in November 1850 and in January 1851 was acting surgeon at St Mary's Hospital. In June 1853 he received a conditional pardon, which forbade residence in the United Kingdom, and went to live in Paris whence he made a secret visit to London to marry Mary Eva Kelly (1829-1910) on 23 August 1855. He received an unconditional pardon next year and returned to Dublin. He graduated as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in June 1857 and set up practice.

O'Doherty returned to Victoria in 1860 and after a short stay in Geelong moved to Sydney and settled at Brisbane in 1865 where he became a leading physician. He was one of the first presidents of the Queensland Medical Society and carried out extensive honorary work at Catholic hospitals. A member for Brisbane in the Legislative Assembly in 1867-73, he had wide interests. In 1872 he was responsible for the first Health Act in Queensland and in 1875-77 gave evidence to many commissions on medical matters. In January 1868 he became one of the first trustees of the undenominational Brisbane Grammar School, but in 1874 declined to serve on the royal commission on education in protest at 'the proposed withdrawal of aid to non-vested schools'. He was a member of the Legislative Council in 1877-85 and as an opponent of the traffic in Kanakas sponsored the bill to stop their recruitment. A leading figure in the Queensland Irish Association, he was elected president of the Irish Australian Convention held in Melbourne in 1883.

In 1886 O'Doherty was elected to the House of Commons as member for North Meath but resigned after the split in Parnell's party and returned to Brisbane. Unable to set up practice again, he was finally appointed secretary to the Central Board of Health and supervisor of the quarantine station. He died on 15 July 1905 at his home in Torwood, Brisbane, survived by his wife and one of his eight children. The Queensland Irish Association raised a monument over his grave in Toowong cemetery.

His wife was a poetess, known as 'Eva of the “Nation”,' and continued to write throughout her married life but her poems written in Queensland had a tone of sadness and a longing for Ireland. She published Poems (San Francisco, 1877) and a second edition at Dublin in 1909.

Select Bibliography

  • R. S. Browne, A Journalist's Memories (Brisb, 1927)
  • J. H. Cullen, Young Ireland in Exile (Dublin, 1928)
  • H. A. Kellow, Queensland Poets (Lond, 1930)
  • T. J. Kiernan, The Irish Exiles in Australia (Melb, 1954)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1875, 2, 295
  • O'Doherty papers (microfilm copies at State Library of New South Wales, National Library of Australia, and State Library of Queensland)
  • Ac no 2/363 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Additional Resources

Citation details

G. Rudé, 'O'Doherty, Kevin Izod (1823–1905)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Kevin O'Doherty, n.d.

Kevin O'Doherty, n.d.

State Library of Queensland, 65511

Life Summary [details]


7 September, 1823
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland


15 July, 1905 (aged 81)
Torwood, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

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Convict Record

Crime: insurrection
Sentence: 10 years