In the Seanad, he was known as a champion of human rights and an opponent of authoritarianism, campaigning for an end to corporal punishment in Irish schools.
In 1935, he married Andrée Denis, a French graduate of the Sorbonne, with whom he had two sons and one daughter. She later wrote a biography of her husband: "Skeff: A Life of Owen Sheehy Skeffington 1909-1970". They resided at Hazelbrook Cottage, Rathfarnham, Dublin.
In the late 1950s memorialist Peter Tyrrell began a long term correspondence with him. Sheehy-Skeffington encouraged Tyrrell to write his autobiography, which posthumously helped to expose the brutal conditions in Irish Industrial schools, and Letterfrack in particular. When Tyrrell committed suicide in 1967, the only clue to his identity was a card addressed to Owen Sheehy-Skeffington.
Since 1973, Trinity College has offered the Owen Sheehy-Skeffington Memorial Award. The €1,500 bursary is awarded annually and takes the form of either a maintenance grant or travel award in alternate years. Criteria for the award include a combination of academic promise and financial need. The maintenance grant is available to Senior Freshman or Junior Sophister students of French at Trinity College, while the travelling scholarship may be granted to any student attending a centre of higher education in Ireland.