‘They only spoke of him in glowing terms’

Death of Fr Eddie O’Connor, All-Ireland minor medal winner with Roscommon

The death of Fr. Eddie O’Connor – a member of Roscommon’s All-Ireland winning minor team of 1951 – occurred in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on November 7th. Last Friday (December 16th) was the 65th anniversary of the playing of that 1951 All-Ireland Final.

  Fr. O’Connor was from Gallowstown on the Boyle Road, Roscommon town and attended Roscommon CBS. It was a successful time then for him in GAA in which he excelled with both the town club St. Coman’s and Roscommon CBS. The town team won three minor championships in a row and the CBS also had a winning senior team.

  This all transferred to a very successful and All-Ireland winning county minor side in 1951 which was backboned by CBS players. Eddie would have been a young member of that team. In Connacht the team defeated Sligo but lost to Galway in the provincial final. Roscommon objected to an illegality concerning the Galway team and were successful in that, though it dragged on for months.

  The team then defeated Louth in the All-Ireland semi-final which was played in the CBS field, on November 25th, St. Coman’s Park being flooded. The final took place on December 16th in Croke Park, with Roscommon having a convincing win over Armagh, by 2-7 to I-5. Eddie O’Connor was a reliable corner-back on that team with his fellow clubman Barry Molloy as captain. They were thus the third Roscommon team to win a minor All-Ireland in 12 years.

  Eddie followed from the CBS to St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where a good friend of his was Elphin and Roscommon star Des Dockery. Eddie was ordained on June 19th, 1960 by Archbishop Charles McQuaid. Of that minor team and panel there were three others who joined the priesthood: Eamon Duignan from Loughglynn; Denis Harlow, Roscommon town, and Dominick Gillooly of Kilteevan.

  Frs. O’Connor, Duignan and Harlow all ministered on the East coast of the United States. Fr. O’Connor ministered in various parishes in the Diocese of Atlanta, Georgia. There were a number of tributes paid to Fr. O’Connor at his funeral mass, which were used in a Catholic Diocese of Atlanta Bulletin. The tributes were from colleagues and members of various parishes in which Fr. O’Connor served. They invariably mentioned his sense of humour – one said “he lit up the lives of fellow priests and parishioners.” 

  His nephew, Michael O’Connor, spoke of his uncle as “a humble man, a beautiful man in every aspect of life who always saw the good side.” A first cousin of his is Patricia O’Connor- O’Bradaigh, Galway Road, Roscommon.     

  Fr. Eddie returned for some reunions of the 1951 winning team and with Fr. Duignan concelebrated mass for the group at their 50th anniversary get-together in 2001. When I spoke with Michael Shivnan and Barry Molloy before penning these lines, they both spoke of Fr. Eddie in glowing terms.

  He was laid to rest in Arlington Memorial Park Cemetery, Sandy Springs, Atlanta on November 11th, with Archbishop Gregory of Atlanta officiating. May he rest in peace.