Tributes to Limerick priest, 91, who spent 37 years in Philippines

Tributes to Limerick priest, 91, who spent 37 years in Philippines

The late Fr Jim O’Connor, 91, of Redemptorists

THE LAST son of the “legendary seven O’Connor brothers” from Athlunkard Street in the city has passed away at the age of 91.

Fr Jim O’Connor, of the Redemptorist order at Mount St Alphonsus, South Circular Road, and Carrigoran House, Newmarket-On-Fergus, died peacefully this Monday at the University Hospital Limerick.

He is predeceased by his brothers Coleman, Joe and Pat – all sons of one of the seven O’Connor brothers, who would have been very well known in Limerick through Garryowen rugby and Athlunkard rowing circles.

Jim, Jack, Joe, Charlie, Mike, Thade, and Brian played rugby for Garryowen and won 47 Munster Senior Cup medals between them, while Jack and Joe were capped for Ireland. They were also involved with Athlunkard Boat Club. 

Jack, with 11 caps, had the most. His son, Mick, won four further Munster Senior Cup medals between 1925 and 1934.

Their father John was also a founding member of Garryowen rugby club in 1884.

Local writer Denis O’Shaughnessy once described the brothers as “the city’s greatest sporting family; their exploits on the rugby and athletics field the stuff of legend”.

Born in Limerick on July 7, 1924 to Margaret, from west Clare, and James O’Connor, he was schooled at the Model and St Munchins, grew up on Henry Street and was professed in the Redemptorists in 1943, and ordained in 1950.

He spent two long periods of his life in the Philippines, first travelling there in 1952 and returning to Ireland in 1968, before leaving again in 1984 and returning home in 2005. For many years, before the digital age, his family would send him the Monday copy of The Irish Times to keep updated with all the sports news, as he followed every sport.

“He is also fondly remembered for his voice. He was a wonderful, wonderful singer,” said Fr Seamus Enright, rector of the Redemptorists in the city.

Fr O’Connor spent the last few years of his life in Carrigoran House, where was said to be quite happy and mentally alert right up to his passing. 

“He carried his love of rugby with him all his life. Even on Saturday last, he had a great day analysing the rugby match between Munster and Connaght,” added Fr Enright.

His remains will be reposing at the monastery on Wednesday with removal to Mt St Alphonsus Church at 6.30pm for mass at 7.15pm. His funeral mass will be held on Thursday at 11am with burial afterwards in Castlemungret Cemetery.

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