O'Reilly presided at Justin McCarthy's farewell lecture in the Boston Theater, February 27, and five days later delivered his own great lecture on "Illustrious Irishmen of One Century," before an audience of 3000, in Grand Army Hall, Brooklyn, N. Y. Justin McCarthy was on the stage and received another graceful tribute from the lecturer.
On St. Patrick's Day, 1887, the poet read his "Exile of the Gael," before the Charitable Irish Society of Boston, on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the association. It is a noble tribute to the expatriated children of Ireland, its best passage being that in which he tells what the exiles have brought with them to the new country:
No treason we bring from Erin—nor bring we shame nor guilt!
The sword we hold may be broken, but we have not dropped the hilt!
The wreath we bear to Columbia is twisted of thorns, not bays;
And the songs we sing are saddened by thoughts of desolate days.
But the hearts we bring for Freedom are washed in the surge, of tears;
And we claim our right by a People's fight, outliving a thousand years.
In introducing the poem, he uttered one of his pithy sayings: "We can do Ireland more good by our Americanism than by our Irishism."