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Daily Chronicle, October 8, 9, 1891.

The Daily Chronicle, the Liberal newspaper of record, gave extensive coverage to the death of Parnell.  In the October 8 edition, page five, an obituary, attributed to O’Connor Power,* described his last days.  On Thursday Parnell returned from Ireland.  He had caught a severe chill and died in intense pain on the following Tuesday.  He had ‘not enjoyed robust health for more than ten years’.

Parnell had a scientific bent and a great interest in metallurgy, geology and astronomy.  He had mines and quarries on his land in Avondale, County Wicklow and believed in the importance of developing the mineral resources of Ireland.

Other contributers  added personal reminiscences and details

At a recent speaking engagement in Creggs, County Galway, Parnell had a severe pain in his left arm and wore a sling.  A smoker and a drinker for  many years, he had  suffered from chronic dyspepsia and cancer of the stomach.  He was prone to ‘extreme nervous depression and melancholy.’ He was a medicine-taker. In the last twelve months he had become ‘perceptibly thinner’.

The Chronicle provided memoirs, sketches and reports from Ireland, Rome, Paris, Berlin and the major cities of North America.

Parnell’s mother held Michael Davitt responsible for his death: ‘It is Davitt and the Irish World‘s persecution …’

‘His political course has been one of slow suicide.’

*See That Irishman, Part Five, Daily Chronicle, p. 179

Parliamentary Sittings

The House of Commons is notorious for long sittings, and I am sure that no advantage is gained by the present system, which enables a few members to protract the proceedings of the House to most unconscionable hours.  When I first entered Parliament in 1874 nothing surprised me so much as the long hours which members reconciled themselves to endure, and under circumstances where, as I have indicated, the work done bore no comparison at all to the length of time occupied in doing it. When I went back to Dublin after my first Session in Parliament, a very kind medical friend of mine said to me, ‘You know, you must be careful about those late hours, the night air is very injurious,’ but I calmed my friend by saying he need not be so careful about the night air – it was always morning when I went home.

Bath Herald, 19 November, 1884

 

In 1875, his first birthday at Westminster, [O’Connor Power] asked the first Lord of the Treasury the advisability of adoption of a rule fixing beyond which no sitting should be continued.

That Irishman, p.233.

 

 

On recruitment and the suspension of Home Rule

I have read speeches of  members of Parliament calling upon the young men of Ireland to go to the front because of the Home Rule Act. The brave young fellows rushed to the recruiting offices in tens of thousands: most of whom now sleep their last sleep in the blood-stained fields of Europe. They did not offer up their lives for a mutilated Ireland but for one united from sea to sea, and they did so with the promise of their leaders that national unity would never be given away. I ask is faith not to be kept with the dead? If so, the infamy of the broken Treaty of Limerick will be outdone by the betrayal of today.

Irish Independent, 19 June, 1916

That Irishman, A Broken Treaty,  pp. 220-222.

O’Connor Power goes to Washington

Ireland’s Congratulations

John O’Connor Power, a member of the British Parliament for Mayo, arrived in New York on Saturday with the Irish congratulatory address on the Centennial.  It is in a handsome frame, the penmanship finely executed, and surrounded by a gold band entwined with shamrocks;  the corners are shields bearing the arms of the four Irish provinces, Leinster, Ulster,  Munster and Connaught.

Chester Daily Times, Pennsylvania, October 5, 1876, p.3

See also That Irishman, pp.71-73.

North America and Home Rule

At the end of 1887, O’Connor Power sailed to New York to promote Home Rule. He spent a year touring North America.

The Evening Telegram, St John’s,  March 31, 1888

 A Friend of Confederation.

O’Connor Power pays a tribute to Canada.

His plan of settling the Irish question.

The paper reports that William O’Brien highly approved of the Dominion’s system of Government, but the editor of United Ireland is not the only prominent Irish leader and patriot who entertains a very high opinion of the Canadian system.

[O’Connor Power has written] ‘a lengthy letter on the Irish question in the New York Herald of February 18, which exactly coincides with what has been advanced by Mr O’Brien.  O’Connor Power argues strongly in favour of the adoption of Home Rule on the Confederation plan. He quotes instances where this has succeeded in creating great empires without destroying small nationalities. He refers to the success of the Federal plan in Germany, Switzerland, the United States and Canada.  In the course of the letter he says: – ‘Some of the most experienced politicians in Canada prophesied all manner of civil strife in the working of the act of Confederation before its adoption in 1867. Their speeches are contained in a volume of more than a thousand pages .’ These sentiments from the pen of one of Ireland’s most devoted patriots strangely contrast with the utterances of those pale green sons of the Emerald Isle who moved that resolution at St Patrick’s Hall* on the 17th instant.

*The Benevolent Irish Society, St John’s, Newfoundland, was founded in 1806.  Membership was open to Irish born men and those of Irish descent.

See That Irishman, Part Four, Taking a Stand, pp. 162-166.

That Irishman-at-the-Bar

Power, John O’Connor, MP, co. Mayo since 1874, a member of the South-eastern circuit, a student of the Middle Temple 14 Feb 1878, called to the bar 17 Nov 1881. (3rd son of the late Patrick Power of Ballinasloe, co. Galway, gent. dec.) Born 1846.

5 King’s Bench Walk, Temple E.C. [1882-1887]

Men-at-the Bar:  Biographical list of the Members of the Various Inns of Court … 1885.

The Irish in England

In 1880 O’Connor Power’s article on the Irish in England appeared in the Fortnightly Review.  

He believed ‘the battle for Irish rights must be fought in England’.  An organised Irish vote brought the Liberals back into Government.  Disraeli, the outgoing Premier, put the blame for his defeat on his party’s hardline stance on Home Rule.

O’Connor Power praised the Irish electorate in England, ‘They are the most active workers in the national cause and have taken part in every national struggle since the days of O’Connell … The [Fenian] spirit  which animated them in those trying times, when all that was chivalrous, brave and unselfish in the national ranks seemed determined to sacrifice itself in one desperate struggle for liberty, has survived among the Irish in England down to the present day, and although it works now in the more peaceful courses of constitutional action it is not the less earnest, determined, courageous and self-sacrificing.’

‘The Irish in England’ is available to download at Post Selected Writings, pp.107-114.

St Patrick

Ireland’s distinguishing mark in history is her love of God and love of country, ‘her unconquerable, her unpurchasable devotion to faith and freedom’.

The conversion of Ireland by St. Patrick and her admission into the Christian republic stand out for all time as the greatest event in Irish history … I believe all the historians unite in testifying that the ancient Church of Ireland was the university of the world.

‘The Philosophy of Irish History’, text of O’Connor Power’s lecture in the Round Room of the Rotundo, 26th April 1880.

13 February 1878.

On his 32nd birthday, 13th February 1878, O’Connor Power invited the newly released Fenian prisoners to ‘a private room in Parliament House’. Here Michael Davitt wrote an account of his prison treatment, which was published in a pamphlet with a selection of O’Connor Power’s speeches on Amnesty in the House of Commons.  It is available to download at Post, Selected Writings, pp.21-64.

 

Dr Johnson’s Dining Chair

In 1888, the Cock Tavern in Fleet Street was refurbished and Dr Johnson’s Dining Chair found a new home with T Fisher Unwin, publisher and  co-founder of the Johnson Club.  His widow donated the chair to Dr Johnson’s House.

13 December 1887, O’Connor Power was elected Prior of the Johnson Club.

In 1920, Fisher Unwin published Michael MacDonagh’s The Home Rule Movement, partly based on O’Connor Power’s papers.