O'Doherty, Kevin Izod (1823–1905), Young Irelander, MP, and medical doctor, was born 7 September 1823 in Dublin, youngest of two sons and two daughters of William Izod Doherty (d. 1832), a catholic solicitor, and Anne Doherty (née McEvoy). Educated at Dr Wall's school in Hume St., he began to study medicine at the catholic medical school and the RCSI in 1842. During the fever epidemic that accompanied the famine in 1847–8 he worked as a surgical assistant at the fever hospital in the County of Dublin Infirmary. He joined the Young Ireland Irish Confederation after its founding in January 1847 and began signing himself ‘O'Doherty’. In May 1848 he attended the trial of John Mitchel (qv) and after the conviction for treason felony resolved to carry on Mitchel's work. O'Doherty helped found a confederate club of radical students in Dublin, and with Richard D'Alton Williams (qv) became founder and co-editor of the Irish Tribune, a weekly newspaper that first appeared on 10 June 1848 and advocated insurrection. It was suppressed after five issues and O'Doherty was arrested on 10 July 1848 and imprisoned at Newgate.
Tried at Green St., Dublin, on 11–12 August, he was charged with treason felony for inflammatory articles he had written in the Tribune. Among these was ‘Our harvest prospects’, which claimed that if any attempt was made to ship more Irish livestock and grain abroad ‘the strong men of this land . . . will gladden our eyes by saving the coming harvest and easing their longing thirst deep, deep in the blood of the English foe’ (Irish Tribune, 1 July 1848). Given strong character references by senior medical colleagues, he was ably defended by Isaac Butt (qv) and the jury failed to reach a verdict; his second trial on 17 August was also inconclusive. On 30 October 1848 he was tried a third time, found guilty, and sentenced to ten years transportation to Van Diemen's Land.
After being held in Richmond prison, Dublin, he was sent to Van Diemen's Land on 16 June and arrived 31 October 1849. He accepted a ticket of leave, which gave him free movement within the police district of Oatlands (about fifty miles (80 km) north of Hobart), and worked as an assistant to the government surgeon. Allowed to move to Hobart in August 1850, he worked as a surgeon at St Mary's Hospital. Occasionally he infringed the conditions of his ticket of leave to visit fellow prisoners such as Mitchel, T. F. Meagher (qv), and William Smith O'Brien (qv) in other police districts, and served three weeks hard labour in a penal settlement for one such infraction. In June 1854 he was granted a conditional pardon, allowing him to settle anywhere outside the UK. After an unsuccessful attempt at prospecting for gold at Bendigo, Victoria, he returned secretly to Ireland in summer 1855. On 23 August 1855 in London he married his fiancée, the poet Mary Anne Kelly (qv) (‘Eva’ of the Nation), whom he had first met while in prison in 1848. They moved to Paris, where O'Doherty continued his medical studies. He was granted a full pardon in 1856, although by this time he had already returned to Ireland for the birth of his first child. After completing his medical training in Dublin in 1857, graduating as a fellow of the RCSI and a licentiate of the RCPI, and acquiring a diploma in obstetrics, he practised in Hume St. hospital.
During 1857 he squabbled over the family inheritance with his two brothers William and John (who disagreed with his politics). This quarrel and the quiescent political mood of post-famine Ireland soured his return, and he decided to emigrate to Australia with his family in 1860. From 1862 O'Doherty practised at Ipswich (twenty-five miles (40 km) west of Brisbane), moving in August 1865 to Brisbane, where he built up a successful surgery. An innovative and highly respected physician, he became honorary visiting surgeon to Brisbane hospital, was appointed a member of the Australian medical registration board and the central board of health, and produced several influential reports on public health in the colony. In 1882 he was elected president of the Queensland Medical Society. He also became involved in politics and represented Brisbane in the Queensland legislative assembly (1867–73), introducing the region's first public health act (1872) and a pharmacy bill to cater for the medical needs of the poorer classes, and served on the Queensland legislative council (1877–85). As an independent ‘town liberal’ he fought for the interests of tradesmen and small farmers against the state's great pastoralists, whom he labelled the ‘Queensland dukes’. He was particularly critical of the employment of captured aboriginals as indentured labourers on Queensland's cotton and sugar-cane plantations.
O'Doherty was Brisbane's leading catholic layman and on health and education matters regularly consulted James Quinn (qv), catholic bishop of Brisbane, whom he had befriended in Ireland in the 1850s. Quinn's high-handedness made him many enemies among Australian catholics, but O'Doherty remained a firm supporter. Strongly committed to Irish causes, O'Doherty founded a Hibernian Society to unite Irish-Australians of all religions and prevent Australian public life from being embittered by religious discord. He delivered an address at a centenary celebration for Daniel O'Connell (qv) in 1875 and organised a fund to relieve distress in the west of Ireland in 1879, which raised £12,000. He chaired the Queensland branch of the Irish National League, and when William (qv) and John Redmond (qv) visited Australia in 1883, O'Doherty was elected president of the Irish Australian Convention in Melbourne.
In 1885 he returned to Ireland and was awarded the freedom of Dublin on 1 September 1885. He was elected MP for Co. Meath in November 1885 as a supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell (qv), but after the defeat of the home rule bill in 1886, declined renomination for the ensuing election, possibly because of financial problems. He returned to Australia and worked as a government medical officer at a remote goldfield in North Queensland, moving back to Brisbane in 1890. His medical practice declined as agricultural depression bit deep into the colony's economy, but he managed to secure some part-time medical positions from the government. His eyesight deteriorated and by the late 1890s he was blind and had ceased to work. His suffering was compounded by the fact that from 1890 to 1900 his four sons died one by one; two of his three daughters had died earlier. He died 15 July 1905 at his home in Torwood, Brisbane, and was buried at nearby Toowong cemetery, where a monument was erected in his honour by the Queensland Irish Association.