Fr Vincent O’Brien was a native of Roscommon where his father was a local stationmaster. Fr O’Brien was ordained a Columbian priest in 1947. For the next fourteen years he ministered in the Philippines. In the mid-sixties he was allowed to return home on compassionate leave to look after his widowed mother.
A few years earlier his older brother, Fr Jack O’Brien who was also a Columbian priest, disappeared and was presumed killed in the Korean War. His body was never recovered.
On returning home Fr O’Brien first ministered in Ballinrobe and a few years later was assigned to Bunnacurry on Achill Island where he served for almost eighteen years. During those years, Achill was deprived by lack of job opportunities and the scourge of emigration. It was part of everyday life in Achill that husbands, sons and daughters would emigrate to find seasonal work, returning home only for a few weeks during the summer. This social, economic and cultural deprivation greatly disturbed Fr O’Brien. He decided with his great determination and ability to motivate people to self help projects to reverse trends. He was also instrumental in convincing the local monastery to release their lands to Udaras na Gaeltachta for an industrial estate which still stands in Bunnacurry.
Fr O’Brien’s great passion was soccer. In 1974 he organised a committee to form an Achill Football Club which would play in the Mayo League. The 1974/75 season saw Achill United participate in the Mayo League for the first time as one of ten new teams that season.
As manager, Fr O’Brien guided Achill United to two Travenol Shield successes ( 1976 & 1977 ) and two Second Division Championships ( 1976/77 & 1981/82 ). Fr O’Brien was also President of the Mayo League.
In October 1983 he became ill and was admitted to hospital but was released just before Christmas. However he was re-admitted to hospital a few months later in 1984. He died on 1st June 1984 at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.
Fr Vincent O'Brien is remembered as the founder of League football in Achill Island. He is the Honorary President of Achill Rovers Football Club and Achill Rovers' home ground in The Valley is also named "Fr O'Brien Park" in his honour.
Fr O'Brien Memorial, The Valley Achill Island.