O’Brien is born on February 27, 1922, to Donough Richard O’Brien and distinguished artist Cicely Maud Carus-Wilson. She is cousin to the artist Dermod O’Brien PRHA, Brigid Ganly HRHA and President of the Water Colour Society of Ireland, Kitty Wilmer O’Brien RHA.
O’Brien is educated in Dublin where she wins prizes in the international competitions of London‘s Royal Drawing Society. At age 17 she spends a year in West Cornwall with Stanhope Alexander Forbes and at age 18 she takes part in her first exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA). It becomes difficult to study internationally with the outbreak of the World War II, and she takes the opportunity to use her skills for the war effort and turns to mechanical drawing. However, it is as a botanical illustrator she is best known.
O’Brien’s studio in Limerick is always called the piggery and is where she brings in the plants from her garden to arrange for her work. She continues to exhibit on a regular basis both with the RHA and private exhibitions around Ireland. On occasion she uses her art to raise funds for charities like Friends of St. Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar.
O’Brien marries David Coote Hely Hutchinson on September 25, 1948 with whom she has one daughter. In 2003 they live at Parteen, a village close to Limerick City. She dies in St. Martha’s Nursing Home, Charleville, County Cork on July 3, 2014.
(Pictured: “Still Life with Flowers,” oil on canvas by Geraldine M. O’Brien)