The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

P. Michael O'Sullivan

Award-winning photojournalist

Deirdre Fennessy, Irish Freedom Committee • September 22, 2004 (Chicago)

Chicago mourns photojournalist P. Michael O'Sullivan, nationally recognized for a daringly close-up style of documenting social and political unrest in urban America during the 1960's and 70's. O'Sullivan passed away on Sunday, September 19, 2004 in the Hospice Unit at Lincoln Park Hospital, Chicago, Illinois after a short and valiant battle with lung cancer.

Patrick Michael Sean Brian O'Sullivan was born April 15, 1940 in Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan the son of Emmett Michael and Freda (Atchison) O'Sullivan, both deceased.

Mr. O'Sullivan attended grade school, Jackson High School, and Jackson Community College. After college he moved to Chicago, Illinois to live with his sister, Phyllis, and her family. There began his life long love of the city of Chicago.

Following in the O'Sullivan family tradition, Mr. O'Sullivan enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in the 82nd Airborne. After his Army years he returned to Chicago and began his career in photography.

Michael learned his craft from his mentor, Mickey Pallas of Pallas Photo Co. Like his idol Robert Capa, whose photographic documentation of the Spanish Civil War remains a classic among photojournalists, O'Sullivan quickly earned a reputation for courage and grace under fire. Like Capa, he did it the hard way; behind the lines, without regard for self, pursuing the one elusive image that, once captured, would most eloquently tell the story behind the violence, looting, and burning of American cities.

In his first major assignment, the Detroit riots, his photograph was chosen from among thousands to be on the cover of Life Magazine.

Mr. O'Sullivan worked on over 350 assignments for national and international, including Time, Life, Business Week, Fortune, Newsweek, Paris Match, The London Daily Express, The Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun Times.

He received over 25 awards for his photographic work, from both the New York and Chicago Art Directors Clubs, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts and Communicating Arts. His work included 25 cover stories, including the Life cover on the Detroit riots and twelve Business Week covers.. But it was exclusive action photographs and interviews with Irish Republican Army (IRA) leaders, soldiers, and their families over several years that became his passion. Profoundly affected by the injustice he witnessed on what has come to be known as "Bloody Sunday," O'Sullivan dedicated himself to the Republican cause. His proudest achievement was the publication of his book, "Patriot Graves, Resistance in Ireland", Follet.

In 1982 O'Sullivan crashed his motorcycle in a near fatal accident. He endured many months of hospitalization, therapy, and rehabilitation. Shortly after the accident a group of loving and compassionate friends held several benefits to help cover O'Sullivan's medical expenses. For over 20 years these friends contributed to a trust fund to assist Michael in an independent living situation. Walking with a cane, wearing his black eye patch, pony tail, and a black beret, O'Sullivan was a familiar figure on the streets of Old Town and the near north side as he took his daily walks for lunch or dinner in one of the neighborhood restaurants. Although no longer able to work at his career he never left home without his camera around his neck. He greeted friends with a smile, a raised fist, and a hearty "Boy, Boy".

In his 23 year struggle to overcome his many disabilities Michael taught us so much about love, perseverance, courage, and compassion. For those of us who loved him he was our hero.

O'Sullivan is survived by his wife, Victoria (Oltean), a son, Sean Michael, a daughter, Siobhan (Sean) Harvey, and 4 grandchildren, Eleanor, Devlin, Donovan, and Emilia, all of Chicago.

Also survived by 2 brothers, Robert (Lucille) Kirkpatrick of Sesser, IL. and Terrance D. O'Sullivan of Ann Arbor, MI. 2 sisters, Phyllis (Carl) Corona of Glen Ellyn, IL. and Susan (Mike) Callahan of Detroit, MI., and numerous nephews, nieces, and friends.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held on at Saturday, Sept.25, 4:30 to 10:00 PM at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave. Chicago, IL Phone 773-282-7035

Family and friends are invited to attend and share in memories of Michael's life.






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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

24 September 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Honour the Legacy
Dermot McClenaghan, Eamonn McCann, Johnnie White

Working for the Clampdown
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Peace Bomb
Anthony McIntyre

No Essential Contradiction
Eamonn McCann

P. Michael O'Sullivan, 1940-2004
Deirdre Fennessy

19 September 2004

Get On With It
Dolours Price

Who Pulled the Strings
Eamon McCann

Can of Worms
John Kennedy

British Terror in Ireland
Kevin Raftery

Big Snake Lake
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

'Ulster Britishism' or the Myth of Nationality
Liam O Comain

An Teanga Once Again?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Converting Waste into Value
Liam O Ruairc

Scargill Speaks In Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

NIPSA, the Most Important Workers Strike in Northern Ireland in 20 Years
Davy Carlin



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