Thursday, September 18, 2008

John O’Connor: An Appreciation

John O’Connor who passed away this year was one of nature’s gentlemen. John was a quiet and unassuming man, with a razor sharp wit. His love of all things historical was only surpassed by the love he felt for his family and his native place. John had dual citizenship, as he saw himself as a Ballybrown man living in Mungret. He had an avid interest in the folklore and history of both places. He was constantly researching and surveying old churches and buildings in both localities.
A founder member of the Pubblebrien Historical Society, John also had an interest in Ballingarry where his wife Dorit hailed from. Indeed the notebooks he kept while researching old newspapers are testimony to this fact as they have entries under Ballingarry Clarina and Mungret.
John was very generous with his research and loved to discuss his discoveries with his fellow historians. He was one of the first guests on Tony Browne’s “History Programme” and it was one of many further appearances. He always marvelled at the number of listeners he met following the shows reacting to comments he made.
John was also renowned for his History Walks which he did by invitation from Historical Societies and local groups. He was so enthusiastic to impart all the information stored in his head that the walks often outlasted the daylight hours.
Unlike many people who take a wealth of knowledge with them when they die, John published a number of books which remain as mementoes of his life’s work.
In 1971 John published a booklet entitled “Mungret History and Antiquities” and followed it up in 1975 with one on Carrigogunnell Castle. Encouraged by the success of these publications John worked towards a full history of Mungret parish. Encouraged by friends and members of Pubblebrien Historical Society, the book “On Shannon’s Shore” was published in 2003.
John was a wonderful hand-writer. When Anthony Fitzsimons, of Fitzsimons Printers, saw the beautiful script of the manuscript work of “On Shannon’s Shore” he said he wished he could scan it straight to the finished book. The seed was sown in John’s mind so when Pubblebrien Historical Society published a booklet for Heritage Week entitled “Pubblebrien Townlands” some of John’s handwritten work was included.
He will be missed by all his friends in the Clarina Mungret area and especially at the launch of “The Ballybrown Journal” which he attended every year until he became ill.

May he Rest in Peace

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