Teresa Cora Boylan Brayton (1868 – 1943)

Teresa Cora Boylan  was born in Kilbrook,  Kilcock  Co. Kildare on June 29, 1868 to Hugh Boylan and his wife Elizabeth Boylan (nee Downes). The Boylan's were committed Irish  Republicans with a family history dating back to the 1798 Uprising.

Teresa great grand father was a member of a United Irishmen's contingent of pikemen who successfully attacked the British garrison in Prosperous Co. Kildare on May 24, at the onset of the 1798 Uprising.

As a teenager she lived through the turbulent years of agrarian agitation, a period of civil unrest between 1879 and 1882  commonly referred to as the 'Land War' years.  The organization leading the agitation was the Irish National Land League founded in 1879 by Michael Davitt, Charles Stewart Parnell, Andrew Kettle  and Thomas Brennan.  The aim of the organization was to abolish landlordism in Ireland and help the tenant farmers, who toiled the land, to own the land.

As a result of her own observations and her family's long history of vocal and physical resistance to British rule in Ireland, Teresa was, from an early age, well versed in Ireland's centuries long quest for freedom, a quest she embraced and pursued throughout her life.

Teresa received her primary education at the Newtown National School. She was a gifted student who won a literary award at the age of twelve. Regarding her secondary education the Intermediate Education Act of 1878 made education more widely available, particularly for girls. There is no readily available account as to where she received her secondary or tertiary education, nonetheless, its evident, based on her lifelong literary achievements, that she possessed an intellect and worldly erudition commensurate with that of her literary peers who received a university education.

After completing her schooling she became an assistant teacher to her sister Elizabeth at the Newtown National School, a position she held until her departure to the United States.  During the years that she dedicated to teaching she also penned patriotic poetry and articles that were published in The Nation and other newspapers under the pseudonym  TB. Kilbrook.  In that respect she was a member of an elite cadre of women writers and poets that included such notables as Mary Anne O'Doherty (Eva  of the Nation), Jane Francesca Agnes (Speranza) and Fanny Parnell (Aleria) who, in their time, also penned patriotic poems and anti-British articles that, likewise, were published  in  'The Nation'.

In 1895 Michael Davitt entered the House of Commons, Oscar Wilde was imprisoned on homosexuality charges, Tipperary were the all-Ireland Hurling and Football Champions and Teresa Boylan emigrated to the United States, perhaps, discouraged with the state of affairs in Ireland and/or desirous to pursue her literary career in a less confining environment.

Her port-of-call in the United States was Boston where she resided for a period of time before relocating to New York. Other than for her submission of poems and articles to newspapers and periodicals there is little evidence of what else she did for a living. Its quite possible that she resumed her teaching career.  While living in New York she met and married Henry Brayton, a native of Denver, Colorado.

She was a frequent visitor to Ireland. The following information taken from the Registration of Americans Citizens forms filed at the United States Consulate in Ireland in 1914 indicates, that at that time, she was widowed.

(Mrs. Teresa Brayton born 1868-06-29 at Co Kildare, spouse Henry Brayton born at Denver, CO now deceased; arrived Dublin June 1914 touring)

It was under her married name of Teresa Brayton that she became known as a poet and writer in Irish American circles.  Her poems appeared in The Irish World, New York, The San Francisco Monitor, The Syracuse Sun, and many other publications.

Her best known poem 'The Old Bog Road ' is included in her book of poetry called Songs of the Dawn published in 1913. The poem was set to music by  Madeline King O’Farrelly. The Bog Road that inspired the poem is located midway between Kilcock and Enfield on R148 (1)

Her life in New York is not very well documented, however, what is known is that she was very much involved in the Irish Freedom movement. She shunned the limelight preferring instead to work behind the scenes, but most of all and through her poetry and writings.

The dominant Irish Nationalist and Republican organizations in the United States in the early 1900's included The United Irish League of America, Clan na Gael, Cumann na mBan, the Irish Progressive League, the Friends of Irish Freedom and the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic. Which of these organizations she subscribed too is unknown -- what is known is that she worked closely with individuals who were either leaders, members or in some way associated with  these organizations including such notables as John Devoy, Dr. Gertrude Kelly, Peter Golden, Liam Mellows, Harry Boland, Constance  Markievicz, Helena Moloney, Padraic Pearse, Nora Connolly, Muriel and Mary MacSwiney and others to numerous to mention.

She also had a close association with the Carmelite friars who were very much involved in every aspect of the Irish Freedom movement. Their priory's in Manhattan and the Bronx were places of worship and refuge for Irish Republicans visiting New York.  Their schools and halls were available for socials, fund raising events and memorials to the executed Republican leaders of the Easter Rising, War of Independence and the Civil War. 

After the 1916 Rising Constance Markievicz sent her a letter acknowledging her contribution and also a necklace with a sliver of the flagstaff that flew the flag of the Irish Republic from the roof of the General  Post Office in Dublin on Easter Monday 1916. That necklace was one of her proudest treasures that she wore with reverence for the rest of her life.

Her published works included three books of poetry;   Songs of the Dawn published in 1913, The Flame of Ireland  in 1926 and Christmas Verses in 1934.

She returned to Ireland  permanently in 1932, settling first in Dublin and in 1940 returned to the place of her birth where she died on August 19, 1943.

In 1959 the President of Ireland, unveiled  the Celtic cross shown below over her grave.

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Notes:

1, The local Teresa Brayton Heritage Group has created an Immigrants’ Garden at the top of the road with plants and flowers mentioned by Teresa Brayton in her nature poetry. A large inscribed stone marks the entrance to the road and two information panels have been erected

Contributed by;  Tomás Ó Coısdealha


 cemetery AND grave location

NAME:    Cloncurry Cemetery                            PHONE NO.   

ADDRESSCloncurry, Co. Kildare, Ireland
 


HEADSTONE AND INSCRIPTION

                      


Back to Biographies                                                                                                                                                                        Posted  08/16/2014