Brayton, Teresa C. (1868–1943), poet and nationalist, was born 29 June 1868 in the townland of Kilbrook, near Enfield, Co. Kildare, fifth child of Hugh Boylan and Elizabeth Boylan (née Downes), tenant farmers. She was educated locally; having trained as a teacher, she worked for a time as an assistant to her sister Elizabeth in the Newtown national school. She subsequently emigrated to America in (according to different sources) 1888, 1894, or 1895. After a period in Boston and Chicago, she settled in New York, where she spent the greater part of her adult life. There she met her husband Richard Brayton, a French-Canadian executive in the New York municipal revenue department. Although the marriage was happy, it seems to have been childless.
Brayton's career as a poet began in the 1880s when she contributed patriotic verse to national and provincial papers such as the Nation, Young Ireland, the King's County Chronicle, and Irish Fireside under the pseudonym ‘T. B. Kilbrook’. However, it was in America, particularly among the Irish-American community, that her reputation as a poet and journalist was established. She contributed regularly to the Irish World; her writings were also published in the New York Monitor, Boston Pilot, San Francisco Monitor, Syracuse Sun, and Rosary Magazine. Her first collection of poetry, Songs of the dawn (New York, 1913) was followed by The flame of Ireland (1926). This prolific literary output, aimed mainly at Irish exiles, was largely nostalgic, nationalist, and catholic in tone. Throughout her years in America she made frequent visits to Ireland, becoming well known in nationalist circles, particularly among many of the 1916 leaders. In America she actively promoted the republican cause, primarily through fund-raising campaigns, distributing pamphlets, and political lectures. This contribution was acknowledged after the rising by Constance Markievicz (qv), who sent her a piece of the flagstaff from the GPO. While living in America she was admitted to the Celtic Fellowship, and frequently recited her poems at their gatherings.
After the death of her husband, Brayton returned to Ireland in 1932. After a period living with her sister in Bray, Co. Wicklow, and in Waterloo Avenue, North Strand, Dublin, she settled in the Boylan family farmhouse in Kilbrook in 1941. She continued to publish her work, producing a volume of religious poetry, Christmas verses (1934), and contributing to Irish newspapers. The Catholic Truth Society published her story The new lodger (1933). She died at her home in Kilbrook on 19 August 1943, and was buried in the nearby Cloncurry cemetery, where a Celtic cross, erected over her grave, was unveiled by the then president, Éamon de Valera (qv), in 1959. Among her best-known ballads were ‘The cuckoo's call’, ‘By the old fireside’, ‘Takin’ tea in Reilly's’, and the hugely popular ‘The old bog road,’ which was set to music by Madeleine King O'Farrelly.