The O’Connor name has spread far and wide and is to be found in every walk of life. Inevitably, some of the O’Connor clan have achieved fame, and sometimes fortune in many areas of activity. Here’s a selection of well known O’Connors.
Roderic O’Conor (1860-1940)
Still Life with Flowers
Roderic O’Conor was from Milton, Roscommon. He inherited his father’s estate which enabled him to live independently. He studied Art in Dublin and Antwerp, before settling in France where he lived in Brittany and Paris among other places. His contemporaries included Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. He married his mistress and model Henrietta (Reneé Honta)in 1933. His life was honoured in Ireland by the issue of two Postage stamps in 2010 on his 150thanniversary.
First day cover of Stamps issued in honour of Roderick O’Conor
Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin and is brother to the singer Sinead O’Connor. He has written several novels and plays. His novel Star of the Sea (2003) follows the travels of Irish immigrants to America. Redemption Falls (2007) also explores this topic. His most recent novel is Ghostlight (2010). He was awarded the 2012 Irish PEN Award for his outstanding contribution to Irish literature.
Frank O’Connor (1903-1966)
Frank O’Connor was born Michael Francis O’Connor O’Donovan in Cork. He is the author of over a hundred works and is known for writing the definitive Irish Short Story. This is recognised by the Munster Literature Centre which has run a festival and competition in his honour and to promote the Short Story since 2000. His memoir ‘An only child’ published in 1963 also gained widespread acclaim. http://www.munsterlit.ie/FOC%20Award%20page.html
John O’Conor of Dublin is a well known classical pianist. He studied in Dublin and Vienna and won the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna in 1973. He has received awards from several countries for his services to music. http://www.johnoconor.com/biography.php
Donald O’Connor (1925-2003)
Think of the musical film ‘Singing in the Rain’ and see the perky, happy face and athletic moves of Donald O’Connor as he does an energetic dance routine with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds or sings his signature tune ‘Make ‘em Dance’. His father’s family was originally from Cork. Both of his parents worked in vaudeville, so it’s no surprise that Donald followed them into the entertainment world. He experienced some sadness in his life, but is said to have died with a final joke that he expected to receive an Academy Award in the future.
Des O’Connor is an English singer and comedian. He has worked as a chat show host, and with many personalities including Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra and Jason O’Donovan. He celebrated his 80th birthday with a special show The one and only Des O’Connor in 2012.
Sinead O’Connor is a sister of writer Joseph O’Connor. She has achieved fame as a singer. Her haunting rendition of ‘Nothing compares to U’ and ‘I do not want what I haven’t got’ gained her much popularity in the 1990s.In recent years her religious and political views have proven to be sometimes controversial. However, her popularity as a singer remains.
Peter O’Connor (1872-1957)
Peter O’Connor grew up in Wicklow. He won a Gold medal in the Athens Olympic Games of 1906 for the Hop, Step and Jump and a Silver medal in the Long Jump. While the team of that year took part as an Irish team, with green blazers and a cap with a gold shamrock, the Union Jack of Great Britain was raised to celebrate his success. Undaunted, he climbed the flagpole to wave an Irish flag. His life is recorded in The King of Spring by Mark Quinn.
Where O’Connors of old outclassed their opposition on the battlefield, the O’Connors in Kerry today have made a mark on Irish Gaelic games. Kerry is the home of Gaelic Football and has won the All Ireland Championships more often than any other county. Kerryman Jack O’Connor from South Kerry is a top class proponent of Gaelic Football. He managed the Kerry team from 2003 to 2006 and 2008 to 2012. He brought them to 3 All Ireland titles, 3 league titles and 5 provincial titles during those years.
Another O’Connor Olympian, Cian O’Connor won a Bronze medal for Ireland in equestrian events in the 2012 London Olympics. He had won a Gold medal in the Athens Olympics in 2004, but it was taken from him in controversial circumstances when his horse tested positive in a drug test. But like all O’Connors, he is a survivor and proved that he was a worthy Olympian in 2012.
Jimmy Connors is one of two great US based tennis players of Irish ancestry. He and John McEnroe fought many battles on the forecourts of the world against one another and top opposition. Born in Illinois, Connors won eight grand slam single titles and two grand slam doubles with Ilie Nastase. He retired in 1996. His Irish O’Connor heritage surely gave him the fiery competitiveness that spurred him to victory.
With an ancestry that includes Kings and princes, it is no surprise that the O’Connors were military men. Arthur O’Connor (1765-1852) from Cork, but of the O’Connor Kerry clan, fled to France for his involvement in the United Irishmen. He had hopes of gaining French help against the English. He eventually married into the French aristocracy and became known as General Condorcet O’ Connor; His wife was Elisa a daughter of the Marquis de Condorcet. They settled in a stately home called Le Bignon-Mirabeau , beside a village of the same name where he was named Mayor and acted as local ‘lord of the manor’ for several years. His portrait still hangs in the mantelpiece of one of the reception rooms of the house. He is buried in the O’Connor Condorcet crypt in Le Bignon-Mirabeau cemetery.
Arthur’s brother Roger O’Connor (1763-1834) served time in prison in Scotland for membership of the United Irishmen and was considered an eccentric who wrote bizarre books. His son Feargus, also achieved fame – as the founder of the Chartists in England and had a popular following. He was declared insane in 1852. When he died in 1859, over 50,000 people attended his funeral.