It was with great sadness we learned of the death, on Tuesday last, March 15th, 2016, aged 89, of Mrs Jacqueline O’Brien (née Wittenoom) formerly of Perth, Western Australia; Ballydoyle Stud, Rosegreen, Co. Tipperary and Straffan, Co. Kildare.
Former President of St. Catherine’s College, University of Western Australia, Miss Jacqueline Wittenoom was born in Western Australia in 1927, the daughter of Charles Wittenoom, well-known politician and MP.
Possibly best known here in Ireland as the wife of legendary horse trainer and pre-deceased Mr Vincent O’Brien; Mrs O’Brien was, in her own right, a most accomplished photographer and author. Her lavishly-illustrated publications included ‘Ancient Ireland’ (from prehistory to the middle ages); ‘Great Irish Houses and Castles’ and ‘Dublin: A Grand Tour’.
Mrs O’Brien also wrote ‘Vincent O’Brien – The Official Biography’, telling of her husbands ownership of the world-famous Ballydoyle Stud in Co Tipperary and later his partnership with their son-in-law Mr John Magnier and businessman Mr Robert Sangster, in the establishment of the now also world famous Coolmore Stud.
Her last publication; ‘On We Go the Wittenoom Way: The Legacy of a Colonial Chaplain’, has since been hailed in Australia as a most comprehensive, social and cultural history of the area in which she spent her formative years.
Following their wedding in 1951, Ballydoyle Stud, Rosegreen, here in Co. Tipperary would become her home for much of her life.
Mrs O’Brien passed away peacefully on Tuesday last, surrounded by her family, at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital, Dublin. She is survived by her children; Elizabeth (McClory), Susan (Magnier), David, Jane (Myerscough) and Charles. Her passing is most sadly missed by her loving family, her brother’s Bob and Richard, daughters-in-law Catherine and Tammy, sons-in-law John and Philip, her nineteen treasured grandchildren and fourteen great-grand-children, her relatives and many friends.
The earthly remains of Mrs O’Brien were removed on Saturday last (19th March) to St. Patrick’s Church, Celbridge; arriving at 11:50am. The arrival of her body was celebrated by a traditional Mass at 12:00 noon, latter personally pre-planned by Mrs O’Brien herself, prior to her death and included deeply personal touches, which saw her grandchildren perform ‘Scriptural Readings’ and ‘Prayers of the Faithful’. Later the Mass was followed by private cremation.
Many hundreds of close friends from the many worlds of business, horse racing and politics, attended at St Patrick’s Church in Celbridge, Co Kildare; each to celebrate her almost 90 years of a most active and generous life.
It was her wish that donations, in lieu of flowers, if desired, be made to the Irish Cancer Society.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.