Sunday 21 January 2018

Irish racing author Jacqueline leaves almost €6m in her will

LEFT MILLIONS: Author and photographer Jacqueline O’Brien, wife of racing legend Vincent Photo: Anthony Woods
LEFT MILLIONS: Author and photographer Jacqueline O’Brien, wife of racing legend Vincent Photo: Anthony Woods
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

The author and photographer Jacqueline O'Brien, wife of Vincent, the late founder of Ballydoyle Stud in Co Tipperary, left almost €6m in her will.

Mrs O'Brien, of Dalkeith, Western Australia and the K Club, Co Kildare, died on March 15, 2016. She was the daughter of a flamboyant Australian politician Charles Wittenoom, whose father Sir Edward had founded the town named after the family. She came to Ireland after leaving college and was introduced to Vincent O'Brien at the races and they married in 1951.

During their long marriage, she saw her husband become, firstly, one of the great National Hunt trainers, before graduating to the flat racing 'sport of kings' and training many legendary thoroughbreds.

Ballydoyle Stud at Rosegreen near Cashel, Co Tipperary, became a world-class training establishment with Vincent O'Brien becoming known in the racing world as the 'Master.' The couple were also instrumental in the creation of the Coolmore Stud.

"Another piece of great fortune in Vincent's life was marrying Jacqueline," said the late racing commentator Sir Peter O'Sullevan.

Although she was best known as Vincent O'Brien's wife and mother of their children, Mrs O'Brien also carved out a career for herself, firstly as a photographer and later as an author.

Her sumptuous photographs illustrated Great Irish Houses and Castles which she also wrote, and Dublin: A Grand Tour, which she co-wrote with Desmond Guinness.

She also wrote and illustrated Ancient Ireland, wrote a biography of her husband Master, and her last book, On We Go: The Wittenoom Way, was hailed as a social and cultural history of where she came from in Western Australia.

Although she became an accomplished photographer, Mrs O'Brien said she got into it accidentally when she began photographing horses for sales brochures and later began doing portraits of trainers and their families. "I really loved it and I got to know everybody," she said.

Sunday Independent

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