O'Connor, James (DNB12)

O'CONNOR, JAMES (1836–1910), Irish journalist and politician, was born on 10 Feb. 1836 in the Glen of Imaal, co. Wicklow, where his father, Patrick O'Connor, was a farmer. His mother's maiden surname was Kearney. After education at an Irish national school, he entered early on a commercial career. He was one of the first to join the Fenian organisation, and when its organ, the 'Irish People,' was established in 1863, he joined the staff as book-keeper. With John O'Leary [q. v. Suppl. II], Thomas Clarke Luby [q. v. Suppl. II], O'Donovan Rossa, andC. J. Kickham [q.v.], and the other officials and contributors, O'Connor was arrested on 15 Sept. 1865 at the time of the seizure and suppression of the paper. Convicted with his associates, he was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. After five years, spent chiefly in Millbank and Portland prisons, he was released, and became sub -editor to the 'Irishman' and the 'Flag of Ireland,' advanced nationalist papers conducted by Richard Pigott [q. v.]. When Pigott sold these papers to Parnell and the Land League in 1880 and they were given up, O'Connor was made sub-editor of 'United Ireland,' which was founded in 1881. In December of that year O'Connor was imprisoned with Parnell and other political leaders in Kilmainham.

After the Parnellite split in 1887, 'United Ireland,' which opposed Parnell, was seized by the Irish leader and O'Connor left. He was shortly after appointed editor of the 'Weekly National Press,' a journal started in the interests of the anti-Parnellites. In 1892 he became nationalist M.P. for West Wicklow, and he retained the seat till his death at Kingstown on 12 March 1910.

Though an active journalist, O'Connor published little independently of his newspapers. A pamphlet, 'Recollections of Richard Pigott' (Dublin, 1889), supplies the most authentic account of Pigott's career.

O'Connor was married twice; his first wife with four children died in 1890 from eating poisonous mussels at Monkstown, co. Dublin. A public monument was erected over their grave in Glasnevin. By his second wife, whose maiden name was McBride, he had one daughter.

[Recollections of an Irish National Journalist, by Richard Pigott; Recollections of Pigott, by James O'Connor, 1889; New Ireland, by A. M. Sullivan, p. 263, 10th edition; Recollections of Fenians and Fenianism, by John O'Leary; Recollections, by William O'Brien; Freeman's Journal, Irish Independent, and The Times, 13 March 1910.]

D. J. O'D.