T. P. O'Connor

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For other people named Thomas O'Connor, see Thomas O'Connor (disambiguation).
O'Connor in 1909

Thomas Power O'Connor (5 October 1848 – 18 November 1929), known as T. P. O'Connor and occasionally as Tay Pay (mimicking his own pronunciation of the initials T. P.), was a journalist, an Irish nationalist political figure, and a member of parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for nearly fifty years.

Biography[edit]

O'Connor was born in Athlone,[1] County Westmeath, on 5 October 1848. He was the eldest son of Thomas O'Connor, an Athlone shopkeeper, and his wife Teresa Power, the daughter of a non-commissioned officer in the Connaught Rangers. He was educated at the College of the Immaculate Conception in Athlone, and Queen's College Galway, where he won scholarships in history and modern languages and built up a reputation as an orator, serving as auditor of the college's Literary and Debating Society. He entered journalism as a junior reporter on Saunders' Newsletter, a Dublin journal, in 1867. In 1870, he moved to London, and was appointed a sub-editor on the Daily Telegraph, principally on account of the utility of his mastery of French and German in reportage of the Franco-Prussian War.[1] He later became London correspondent for the New York Herald. In 1885, O'Connor married Elizabeth Paschal, a daughter of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Texas.

O'Connor was elected Member of Parliament for Galway Borough in the 1880 general election, as a representative of Charles Stewart Parnell's Home Rule League. At the next general election in 1885, he was returned both for Galway and for the Liverpool Scotland constituencies, which had a large Irish population; he chose to sit for Liverpool, and represented that constituency in the House of Commons from 1885 until his death in 1929. This was the only constituency outside the island of Ireland ever to return an Irish Nationalist Party MP. Remarkably, O'Connor continued to be re-elected in Liverpool under this label unopposed in the 1918, 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1929 general elections.

Bust of journalist and politician T. P. O'Connor in Fleet Street, London. The inscription reads, "His pen could lay bare the bones of a book or the soul of a statesman in a few vivid lines."

From 1905 he belonged to the central leadership of the United Irish League.[2] During much of his time in parliament, he wrote a nightly sketch of proceedings there for the Pall Mall Gazette. He became "Father of the House of Commons", with unbroken service of 49 years 215 days. The Irish Nationalist Party ceased to exist effectively after the Sinn Féin landslide of 1918, and thereafter O'Connor effectively sat as an independent.

O'Connor founded and was the first editor of several newspapers and journals: the The Star (1887), the Weekly Sun (1891), The Sun (1893), M.A.P. and T.P.'s Weekly (1902). He was appointed the first President of the Board of Film Censors in 1917, and was appointed to the Privy Council by the first Labour government in 1924. He was also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, the world's oldest journalists' organisation. It continues to honour him by having a T.P. O'Connor charity fund.

O'Connor authored a range of books, including Lord Beaconsfield – A Biography (1879); The Parnell Movement (1886); Gladstone's House of Commons; Napoleon; The Phantom Millions; and Memoirs of an Old Parliamentarian (1929). He died in London on 18 November 1929 and is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in north-west London.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dennis Griffiths (ed) The Encyclopedia of the British Press, 1422–1992, London & Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992, p.445-46
  2. ^ Miller, David W.: Church, State and Nation in Ireland 1898–1921 p.142, Gill & Macmillan (1973) ISBN 0-7171-0645-4

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Morris
Michael Francis Ward
Member of Parliament for Galway Borough
18801885
With: John Orrell Lever
Succeeded by
William Henry O'Shea
New constituency Member of Parliament for Liverpool Scotland
18851929
Succeeded by
David Logan
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Burt
Father of the House
1918–1929
Succeeded by
David Lloyd George
Preceded by
Sir James Agg-Gardner
Oldest Member of Parliament
1928–1929
Succeeded by
C. W. Bowerman
Media offices
Preceded by
New position
Editor of The Star
1888–1890
Succeeded by
Henry W. Massingham
Preceded by
George A. Redford
President of the British Board of Film Censors
1916–1929
Succeeded by
Edward Shortt