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About Frank OConnor



Frank O’Connor (born Michael Francis O'Connor O'Donovan) (17 September 1903 – 10 March 1966) was an Irish author of over 150 works, who was best known for his short stories and memoirs.

Raised an only child in Cork, Ireland, to Minnie O'Connor and Michael O'Donovan, O'Connor's early life was marked by his father's alcoholism, indebtness and ill-treatment of his mother. O'Connor's childhood was shaped in part by his mother, who supplied much of the family's income because his father was unable to keep steady employment due to his drunkenness.


In 1918 O'Connor joined the First Brigade of the Irish Republican Army in its resistance to British rule. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and took the Anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War, working in a small propaganda unit in Cork City. He was among the twelve thousand Anti-Treaty Irish Republicans who were interned by the nascent Irish Free State forces, O'Connor's imprisonment being in Gormanstown camp between 1922 and 1923.

Following his release, O'Connor took various positions including that of Irish teacher, theatre director, and librarian. In 1935, O'Connor became a member of the Board of Directors of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, founded by William Butler Yeats and other members of the Irish National Theatre Society.

In 1937, he became managing director of the Abbey. Following Yeats's death in 1939, O'Connor's long-standing conflict with other board members came to a head and he left the Abbey later that year.

In 1950, he accepted invitations to teach in the United States, where many of his short stories had been published in The New Yorker and won great acclaim

O'Connor was perhaps Ireland's most complete man of letters, best known for his varied and comprehensive short stories but also for his work as a literary critic, essayist, travel writer, translator and biographer. He was also a novelist, poet and dramatist.

From the 1930s to the 1960s he was a prolific writer of short stories, poems, plays, and novellas. His work as an Irish teacher complemented his plethora of translations into English of Irish poetry, including his initially banned translation of Brian Merriman's Cúirt an Mheán Oíche ("The Midnight Court"). Many of O'Connor's writings were based on his own life experiences — his character Larry Delaney in particular. O'Connor's experiences in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War are reflected in The Big Fellow, his biography of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins, published in 1937, and one of his best-known short stories, Guests of the Nation (1931), published in various forms during O'Connor's lifetime and included in Frank O'Connor — Collected Stories, published in 1981.

O'Connor's early years are recounted in An Only Child, a memoir published in 1961 which has the immediacy of a precocious diary. U.S. President John F. Kennedy quoted from An Only Child in his remarks introducing the American commitment to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Kennedy described the long walks O'Connor would take with his friends and how, when they came to a wall that seemed too formidable to climb over, they would throw their caps over the wall so they would be forced to scale the wall after them. Kennedy concluded, "This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space and we have no choice but to follow it."

O'Connor continued his autobiography through his time with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, which ended in 1939, in his book, My Father's Son, which was published in 1968, after O'Connor's death.

Neil Jordan's film The Crying Game was partly inspired by O'Connor's short story, Guests of the Nation, which chronicles a doomed friendship between a pair of I.R.A. soldiers and two British prisoners they are guarding.

Frank O'Connor had a stroke while teaching at Stanford University in 1961, and later died from a heart attack in Dublin, Ireland on 10 March 1966. He was buried in Deansgrange cemetery on March 12 1966