Charles Owen O’Conor

Life
1838-1906; ‘The O’Conor Don’; b. Dublin; ed. Downside; MP for Roscommon, 1860-80; supported agrarian, tax, and educational reforms; carried the Irish flag at the coronation of Edward VI. MP for Roscommon in 1860; pamphlets include Irish Land Tenure, Taxation of Ireland, and Freedom of Education; appt. High Sheriff of Sligo, 1863; member of commissions on Penal Servitude, 1863; Factories and Workshop, 1875; Registration Deeds, 1878; Reformatories and Industrial Schools, 1896; issued monority report in connection with Bessborough Commission; prominent in support of Irish Sunday Closing Bill; lost his seat to a Parnellite in 1880; exponent of Catholic Educational rights, he worked on royal commissions on penal servitude and factory laws; President of RIA, and Antiquarian Society, he also brought about the introduction of Irish into the Intermediate syllabus in Ireland; published The O’Conors of Connaught (1891); d. Clonalis. ODNB DIB DIH

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Commentary
Maurice Headlam, Irish Reminiscences ( London: Robert Hale 1947): ‘The O’Conor Don, who carried the standard of Ireland at the Coronation of Edward VII, was, I think, of purely Celtic blood, whereas Mr Bagwell was of Cromwellian English stock - both Unionists and both lovers of Ireland - the latter strongly Church of Ireland, the former fervent Catholic. The O’Conor Don was unmarried and I only stayed with him twice, I think, to fish an attractive stream called the Suck. But he was a good talker when he overcame his habitual shyness, and I learned much of the Roman Catholic side of Irish politics - not, as is [45] generally believed, all Nationalist - from conversation with him at the club, at his rather ugly modern house in Co. Roscommon, and during his last illness, when I used to go to see him at his hospital in Dublin - a brave, modest, upright man.’ (pp.45-46.)

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References
University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection), holds The O’Conors of Connaught, an historical memoir compiled from a MS of the late John O’Donavan with adds. from the state papers and public records (Hodges Figgis 1891).

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Notes
Hostile: There is a hostile reference to O’Conor as a Unionist in Seán de Fréine, The Great Silence (Cork: Mercier Press 1978).

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