Raymond Moulton O’Brien

Pretender To The Earldom of Thomond

On the front of 5 Charlemont Street, Dublin there is a curious heraldic plaque over the door.

It dates back to the mid-20th century when the house was the residence a man who wanted to be known as “Colonel His Highness Raymond Moulton Seaghan O’Brien, Prince of Thomond, Earl and Count of Thomond, Count of Pogla of Clare Castle, Principality of Thomond”. Thomond was an old Irish principality that covered most of north Munster.

This self-styled prince claimed his house was the Royal Dalcassian Legation and the diplomatic presence of his principality in a foreign capital. The Irish Government and most other countries ignored him, but he claimed to have documents proving that Norway, Yugoslavia, Latvia and Estonia had recognised his sovereignty over Thomond.

He bestowed titles, sending out documents and papers from his “Royal Dalcassian Legation” in Charlemont Street, bearing the principality’s coat-of-arms, decorated with a golden crown and a consular seal, and decorated with a golden crown.

He claimed his “country” was Thomond, and that he was directly descended from an Irish royal line that he traced back to 1300 B.C.

O’Brien had arrived in Ireland at the beginning of World War II, claiming he was the Earl of Thomond , although his only supporting documents were a Mexican court judgment and some newspaper cuttings.

He called himself “prince” on his children’s birth certificates, faked a court case of slander against him, set up his own order of chivalry, elicited a blessing from the Vatican, and even attempted to issue his own postage stamps. He registered the birth of his daughter as “Her Highness Princes Grania Bethinn” but was unsuccessful in having his claims recognised by the College of Arms in London and the Lyon King of Arms at the Scottish Office.

Raymond did some very strange things including in 1941 writing to a number of universities asking them to give him a degree because it would help with his secret war work - this got him into a lot of trouble.

In the 1940's, the then Lord Inchiquin declared indignantly that Raymond O’Brien was an impostor, pointing out: “The only person entitled to be called Prince or Earl of Thomond is myself.”

Raymond Moulton O’Brien died in Dublin on 31 March 1977. The notices in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and the London Times described him as Earl of Thomond for the last time. On the 6th April 1977 he was buried in the Moulton family grave at Key Hill. His name was not added to the large, impressive memorial.