Second Reading of the Land Law Ireland Act 1881

On Thursday the chief speakers were O’Connor Power …  Mr O’Connor Power was courageous enough to promise the Bill his support, in spite of Mr Parnell’s decree that the Irish party was not to vote on the Second Reading, and his ably reasoned suggestions of improvements in the Bill made a profound impression on the House.

Spectator May 7 1881.

The second reading passed with the support of Irish members, including James Joseph O’Kelly.

Mobile, Alabama, 1876.

O’Connor Power was in Mobile, Alabama, January 7th, 1876. He was on an extended tour of North America, September 1875 – March 1876. 1876 was the Centennial of American Independence and he visited Irish strongholds, promoting Home Rule and reinforcing the Fenian network.


O’Connor Power’s letter, ‘Is it another broken treaty?’ appeared first in the Irish Independent 19 June 1916. The next day it was published by the Cork Examiner, issue 19,695. See ‘175 years of letters’ in the Irish Examiner August 30, 2016.

For the full text see That Irishman, pp. 221-222.

The John O’Connor Power Debating Competition

Proclamation Day at St Jarlath’s College, Tuam: congratulations to the winners of the John O’Connor Power Debating Competition.

That Irishman was a mature student at St Jarlath’s 1871-1874. In his last year he lectured in Irish history.  He was ranked as one of the greatest orators of the late nineteenth century. In 1906, at the age of sixty, he published The Making of an Orator.

Jedi lightsabers

[That Irishman] and his associates were driven by a desire to make the world a better place;  they spoke and wrote robustly of moral conviction, moral energy, the moral force of right. ‘Vigorous’ and ‘energetic’ were adjectives they favoured. In recent times there has been a degradation of liberal vocabulary. Morality was not a ‘Thou shalt not’ but a compelling command for good works. Words, actions, were Jedi lightsabers cutting swathes through an unjust world.

That Irishman, Afterword, p.233.

January 1868

In the autumn of 1867, O’Connor Power travelled to North America to discuss reorganisation with the American Brotherhood. When he returned to Ireland, he moved, in early January 1868, as the Supreme Council’s representative for Connacht, to County Mayo to set up Fenian units.*

On 13 February, his  twenty-second birthday, O’Connor Power was in Dublin to meet with the Supreme Council, the governing body of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. A few days later, he was arrested on suspicion and held under the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, a law which allowed detention without trial or evidence. He spent five and a half months in Kilmainham jail.

*SPO Fenian Files, 4 January 1868, MS 242R.

Confusion Fusion

John O’Connor Power and John O’Connor, Fenian leaders and prominent members of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, were also members of Parliament and Priors of the Johnson Club. The two patriots, conveniently diminished in historical narratives, were frequently fused in accounts and in accompanying indexes. There is a dismaying confusion with Tay Pay, T P O’Connor, a contemporary.  Tay Pay was a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, a popular journalist and author. Through sheer longevity, he became the longest serving member of the House of Commons.