THE OLD saying “may you live in interesting times” certainly applies to the late John O’Connor’s political life.
The lifelong Fianna Fail man and East Limerick representative to the National Executive for over two decades was laid to rest last Thursday, November 1.
Mr O’Connor died following a short illness. He was 81. Huge crowds attended his removal and funeral, reflecting the esteem the late Mr O’Connor and his family are held.
He was born in Rossbeigh, County Kerry, where his father was the dispensary doctor. The family moved to Kilmallock in the late 1930s when his father was transferred.
Interestingly his father had four brothers and all five were doctors. After growing up in Kilmallock Mr O’Connor began working in retail at home and abroad. This culminated in the perfect marriage in 1960 to Betty, of Delaney’s Food Market in Parnell Street.
Willie O’Dea first got to know Mr O’Connor in the late 1970s when the Social Equality spokesperson first got involved in politics.
“I used to call up to see him in the shop several times a day. His wife, Betty, was a close friend of mine as well,” said Mr O’Dea.
As the East Limerick representative to the National Executive, Mr O’Connor’s role was to represent the views of the party at a local level to the organisation nationally.
“He was there when Dessie O’Malley was expelled from the party by the national executive - John voted against him being expelled. He was there during the Haughey period; during the transition from Haughey to Albert Reynolds; he was there during the short-lived but again controversial Reynolds period and during Bertie’s time,” said Mr O’Dea, who described Mr O’Connor as a gentle, quiet, genuine man.
Mr O’Connor is a former city councillor in the old Ward 4 and Mr O’Dea recalls them canvassing “every inch” .
Cllr Eddie Wade says Mr O’Connor’s role was very important post.
“They would meet with the Taoiseach or party leader for decision making at national level.
“He was a real gentleman, their shop was famous and it was also a meeting place for Fianna Fail people. They would always drop in to say hello. He was a peace commissioner there so it was a place where people want to sign their forms,” said Cllr Wade.
“He was a thorough gentleman, he lived for the party and served it well. John is a sad loss,” he added.
Niall Collins said Mr O’Connor made an immense contribution to the party and his good work will continue into the future.
Mr O’Connor, of Maymount, Corbally Road, is the beloved husband of Aileen and the late Betty, dearly loved father of Michael; sadly missed by his daughter-in-law Anne, grandchildren Mark and Andrew, brother, Eamon, sisters Maureen and Carmel, brother-in-law Canon Gerard Casey, sisters-in-law Margaret and Mary, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends. May he rest in peace.