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Edmund O'Donovan (1844-1883), British war-correspondent, was born at Dublin on the 13th of September 1844, the son of John O'Donovan (1809-1861), a well-known Irish archaeologist and topographer. In 1866 he began to contribute to the Irish Times and other Dublin papers.

After the battle of Sedan he joined the Foreign Legion of the French army, and was wounded and taken prisoner by the Germans. In 1873 the Carlist rising attracted him to Spain, and he wrote many newspaper letters on the campaign. In 1876 he represented the London Daily News during the rising of Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Turks, and in 1879, for the same paper, made his adventurous and famous journey to Merv. On his arrival at Merv, the Turcomans, suspecting him to be a Russian spy, detained him. It was only after several months' captivity that O'Donovan managed to get a message to his principals through to Persia, whence it was telegraphed to England. These adventures he described in The Merv Oasis (1882). In 1883 O'Donovan accompanied the ill-fated expedition of Hicks Pasha to the Egyptian Sudan, and perished with it.

As teenagers, O'Donovan and most of his brothers joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret society banded together to achieve Irish freedom. He was arrested three times and detained for some months. He was subsequently an active IRB organiser in the north of England, while turning to journalism as a career. His sense of enjoyment and pranks was pronounced. He delighted in adventures and was a skilled linguist as well as a weapons expert. O'Donovan remained on excellent terms with Irish revolutionaries to the last.



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