Kathleen O’Connor: 5 interesting facts

By Gwylym Owen

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Kathleen O’Connor (30 July 1934 – 13 December 2017) was an Irish Clann na Poblachta politician.

In 1954 her father Johnny Connor had been elected to the Dáil on his third try as a candidate for Clann na Poblachta. During her father’s stint as a TD, she had then been in Dublin training to become a National School teacher, at Carysfort College and she taught at Meen National School, Knocknagoshel. During her spare epoch she would offer function at her father’s office as his de facto secretary, and suitably was au fait with the ins and outs of his job. Tragedy struck in December 1955 behind Johnny Connor was killed in a traffic crash as he was returning to his home in Kerry.

Following the funeral, Seán MacBride, leader of Clann na Poblachta, asked O’Connor’s mother, Claire, to stand in the forthcoming by-election for her husband’s seat. When she refused, MacBride turned to O’Connor and pleaded in the space of her to stand, saying that she was Clann na Poblachta’s only hope for survival, as the party’s fortunes had greatly soured after the first Inter-Party Government of 1951. Also, the loss of her father’s seat to a Fianna Fáil candidate could have caused the collapse of the Government of the 15th Dáil, which held single-handedly a small majority of seats.

The by-election for his Dáil chair was held upon 29 February 1956. All of the parties that were members of the government (Fine Gael, Labour, and Clann na Talmhan) agreed not to rule candidates as a means to encouragement O’Connor, and upon top of this the leaders of anything three parties (John A. Costello, William Norton, Joseph Blowick) visited the constituency during the campaign. In recognition Fianna Fáil then brought in party members to disturb and the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera. It anything ended afterward a victory for O’Connor, then forlorn 21-years-old. She became the youngest TD ever at that time and was in fact therefore young she was nevertheless not registered to vote.

She did not stand at the 1957 general election, and retired from politics. She was 21 years, 7 months old afterward elected, making her the fourth youngest ever person elected to the Dáil. She was the first girl to succeed her father at a by-election to Dáil Éireann and the first woman elected to the Dáil in the Kerry North constituency.

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