My Grandad — 42 Comments

  1. It is strange that a man who did so much can vanish into total obscurity. {Most good men do.} Bet he never guessed he would be read about from a guy in the states.

  2. For a man who was the first to have a radio in his area, he could not possibly understand how his grandson could connect to thousands [millions] of people around the world instantly. Or how a thought can be published and instantly read by people thousands of miles away.

    And we are only talking about a 70 year period. How the world has changed!!

  3. Is this really true? Because if it is, then your grandfather would rank among the most overlooked people in Irish history.

  4. All true. As I said, the Cork Airport thing is all researched and documented in the book I mentioned.

    The Aer Lingus bit came from research carried out by a Bernard Share of Sallins, Co. Kildare.

    The Healy Pass and Black/Yellow paint stories were told to me [many times] by my father, and I have no reason to doubt him. He was very proud of his dad!

    Somewhere, I have a poster advertising the “Wireless Concert”. I know I gave a copy to the RTE museum.

    There were quite a few other stories about him, but I didn’t want to ramble too long!!

  5. Certainly you have reason to be proud of your grandfather, and I am surprised that there is no mention of him on the internet.
    I’m sure there are records in local history books though, no?

  6. I have never looked in the local records. Maybe someday? But Mallow is not a place I visit now that all the family are gone from there.

    At least he has his name on the internet now, and it is associated with all the things I want him to be associated with. In fact, now that I think of it, I’ll modify my post to stick in some more keywords!!

  7. What a great tale Grandad… he sounds like a wonderful man, perhaps you could unearth the full story and write your own book!

  8. Me? Write a book? You must be joking!

    I often thought he would be a good subject for one all right, but it would have to have been done years ago when all his children were alive. Most are gone now. My father was the great expert, but he died a long time ago. Alas.

  9. What a great story! Good for you for being so proud of an obviously great man, your Grandfather. When my Mother pass away I kept all the letters and stories of grandparents and family.
    Your line about him realizing your connecting with millions all over the globe remided me of the time my cell phone rang while visiting with my Aunt Maureen. She was born in 1914. She asked what it was and who could I be speaking to. I explained cell phones, cell towers, broadband, encryption, DWDM transmissions and then noticed the blank stare I was getting in return. I turned to her and said, “It is a two way radio-telephone”. That she understood. I left my laptop in the car during that visit.

  10. You seem pretty technologically literate, Grandad. Unlike my poor Granny.

    The last surviving Sanchez grandparent, she has never been up-to-date – she still calls the radio the wireless and the TV a picture box – so imagine her surprise when I showed her my PSP last year.

    If you can explain video games to a woman who calls the mobile phone a ‘portable wireless’ then you have achieved greatness.

  11. Grandad,

    What a wonderful story about your Grandad and his achievments. It was people like himself and my Grandad who made both Ireland and America great.
    Your Grandad stayed in Ireland and my Grandad left Ireland and came to America. Both were responsible for making the lives of many people better because they were both thinkers and had the talent to put their ideas to work for the benefit of their fellow countrymen.
    I couldn’t begin to list the inventions, books, plays and political accomplishments of the Irish in America. We owe them a great debt and thank them for all they have done.
    Your Grandad deserves to be honored for his achievements and I hope you continue to write about him until everyone knows his story.

  12. Grandad,I came across Daniel O’Donnell on PBS here in the states.The Public Broadcasting System is tax payers free TV,with please help pay for this programing type of feed.Anyway he had a black and white tie ,I could not keep a straight face,He does have a good voice.

  13. Grandad,
    A superb bit of blogging… thank you. If your grandfather can be overlooked, how many others have been overlooked? An awful lot I suggest.

    History is a myth written by the victors. Your ancestor didn’t fit into the needs of the Irish myth… at that time.

    His time is now come, now that Ireland is constructing a different myth… you are the agent of the modern myth…
    I trust you are proud of yourself.

    Your work is an example to others. Let’s honour the dead heros, but in so honouring make sure they are our heros, not the heros of yesteryear.

  14. I thought long and hard before publishing this. I am an anonymous sort of person, and this is very personal stuff. But in the end, I thought my Grandad is so much bigger than my ego, so I published.

    I thought that as yesterday was Saturday, and all the Irish bloggers would be too preoccupied with the blog awards, that I’d slip it in and maybe nobody would notice. I didn’t even stick my usual Kick button at the bottom!

    I have always been very proud of him. He is one of my heroes. I have always wanted to put him into the public domain.

    I am amazed and delighted at the response. I feel now that at least some others have heard of him. And the main thing is that his record is now forever on the Internet, even if it is just a humble blog post.

    It was only after I’d written the post that I realised that maybe in a subconscious way, that is why I chose the pseudonym ‘Grandad’ [apart from the fact that I am one]. My father was very proud of him, but only talked about him if pushed [as I say, we are a modest family!]. Somehow ‘Grandad’ became synonymous with greatness. I doubt that my grandchildren will ever look on me in the same light, but they still have their Great-great-grandfather to be proud of.

  15. Grandad,

    I hope you will write as much as you know about your Grandfather and other members of your family who have gone before you. Only you know certain facts about your ancestors. Unless you tell the stories you know about these folks, their contributions to your family history will be lost. So, pass the lore to the next generation.

    As my Irish Granny used to say, “When an old person dies, it is like the library burnt down.”

  16. As my Dad used to say – “No-one ever dies when there is someone alive to think of them”.

    I have always made a point of telling my daughter all about her ancestors and hope to do the same with my grandchildren.

    Sadly my grandson will never understand, but my granddaughter will, when she is a bit older.

    And if by some strange quirk of fate, the entire family should all vanish from the face of the Earth, there is still this modest little mention on the Internet that is forever archived now.

  17. The strangest thing happened this morning. I Googled Grandad [I’m sure he’ll forgive me the indignity] and his name popped up on two new pages – one mentioning his part in the origins of Cork Airport, and the other finally giving him credit for thinking up the name. I have added the links as a footnote to the post above.

  18. Really enjoyed reading about your Grandad. Wonderful story. Full marks for posting it. All who have gone before us and tried to make the world a better place in any way, whether for a few people or for many, deserve our recognition and gratitude and their place in recorded history. And now you have ensured that memories of him will not be lost in the mists of time.

  19. That is an amazing tale, and it is great what he did because he saw how other people might benefit. I am working in the middle east because someone like your Grandad seen how to improve things in Ireland and invented the Duty Free shop idea back in 1947 in Shannon. I love the story about the Fog.

    Happy to have had the chance to read about you Grandad.

  20. Thanks MacDara.

    I suggest you raise a glass of Midleton ’73 to all our forgotten ancestors 😉

  21. I will be sure to if I ever get around to Drinking it. I have been wanting it for nearly two years now ever since I first found out about the 1973 addition.

  22. There is only one answer I’m afraid. You have to get a second one – one to drink and one to admire.

  23. I guess that would be my great granddad then. I’d heard about the Air Lingus thing and the pass (thought I seem to remember it was the Connor Pass) from Dad. It’s nice to be able to put a face to the name.

  24. That’s the man. Aer Lingus had a mention of him on their site, but they have redesigned since. *sigh* There is a mention on the Cork Airport site.

    It was the Healy Pass, named after Tim Healy [another relation]. Conor Pass is in Kerry which was outside his area.

  25. I imagine this man would be well proud of his grandson today!!! I hope he got a mention in the book!

  26. Hi,
    My grandparents used to live very near your grandfathers house, Clydaville. My grandfather knew, I think it must be your aunt, Madeline. She lived in Clydaville until she died in I think 1999. It was since demolished, which was a shame as it was a really lovely house. I have some pictures of the outside if you would like me to pass them on to you.

    • Indeed Madeline was my aunt.

      It was a beautiful house, both outside and in.  I have lovely memories of the place having visited and stayed more times than I can remember.  Even to this day the sound of pigeons cooing reminds me of the place.

      It was a terrible shame to hear that the house had been demolished.  It was in bad shape in a couple of places [especially around the "servants' staircase"!!] but there was little that couldn't have been repaired with a bit of time, money and love.  I would love to see the pictures, if it's not too much trouble.

  27. Madeline was my great aunt, we visited her while the house still stood around 25 years ago. We revisited 15 years ago and were grieved to find it had been demolished. Richard F. O'Connor – my grandfather. 

    • Welcome, Cousin!  Wouldn't Madeleine have been your aunt?  Unless Richard was your great grandfather?  I always get confused with relationships.

      Indeed Clydaville was a beautiful place and in a selfish way, I'm glad it's gone.  I'd hate to see its character ripped out and replaced with modern fittings. 

  28. Hello there from another cousin – I’m Anna O’Connor, granddaughter of Richard and Anna. Thumbs up for bringing this wonderful man’s work to the fore. So glad I have these genes ! Madeleine, Clydaville (with the dodgy back stairs and the elegant front ones) …all wonderful memories from my childhood. We’re lucky to have them safely stored. Best wishes.

  29. Hello cousin dear, I think I may have sent you a note when I read your lovely piece all those years ago about our grandfather. I spent a huge amount of my childhood in Clydaville too as we only lived in Fermoy not far away and my mum, Mary Noel insisted on visiting Madeline a lot. I agree with Anna the stairs could be very dodgy!! Anyway now I live in Geneva and have a neighbour who works for IATA which is the trade association for world airlines, who’s boss happens to be a very well known Irish man! When she recounted your tale about our grandfather he was not convinced so I’ve finally managed to track down a copy of the book you mentioned by Michael Barry. Can’t wait to read it.

    • Hi Jody. You did indeed [there were quite a few mails back and forth!]. I knew the house in Fermoy well. It was a lovely place. In particular, for some reason I remember the grand piano and the display of cactii. I also was in Derrybawn, where Noel and Hugh lived before Fermoy. That was another fabulous house.

  30. Hi there, how nice to hear back from you so quickly. Yes we did have that rather large grand piano which sadly neither David nor I had the talent or space for, but I believe it did go to a deserving home. I would love to have been to Derrybawn in its heyday, I imagine it was very Downtown Abbyish! Though every time I visit Laragh I do go and take a sneak peek!!
    We are retiring back to Dublin at the end of the year, Malahide to be exact (I married a Dublin man for my sins!!), it will be very strange having been here for 18 years, but nothing like a new adventure and opportunities to reconnect with friends and family. I would love to meet if you’d like and we could compare notes on our memories of all the mad O’Connors and Madeline’s egg sandwiches!
    Best Wishes

    • Ouch! I just sent an email and am politely informed that you are no longer there. I could write to Ms, Concannon but she might not be amused.

  31. I GREW UP IN CLYDA Madeline was our neighbour she always invited us to the house at Christmas to view her christmas tree it would be beautifully decorated and she used candles instead of lights I remember the piano and the beautiful telephone that was in the hall by the front door we spent our childhood down the wood also their was a windmill which her father built out of steel to pump water up to the house I still live in the area sadly the house is knocked but the windmill is still standing I remember in the late sixtys Madeline used to have long term lodgers in the house . Madeline is buired in st Joseph’s cemetery in Mallow .
    Best Wishes Con Aherne

    • I do remember one Christmas in Clydaville. Indeed I remember the tree with the candles. It stood in front of a massive mirror so was quite a display!
      The windmill always fascinated me and I even managed to pluck up courage to climb to the top [I was afraid of heights in those days]. I’m amazed that it’s still standing, though I doubt it’s pumping much water. I didn’t realise my Grandad built it though.
      I do remember the woods and the lower field that was somewhat boggy as the river occasionally flooded it. There was also the front lawn where I learned to play croquet. I loved that large box in the hall where the croquet set was stored – the hoops, the balls and the mallets.
      I have very happy memories of the place and am very sad that it has gone.

      • Do you remember the fantastic orchard that was to the left hand side of the back of the house their was even a granny smith apple tree there and at the back door climbing the wall was a pear tree the back yard was cobble stones with coach houses some of the exotic trees still stand today in the front area with the bamboo trees to the right still flourishing I also have a memory of seeing a sign sawing Wendy’s house or Wendy’s cafe

        • Now that you mention it, I do vaguely remember the orchard. I do remember the cobbled yard all right and the remains of a land-yacht that my father built [I have the blueprints for that here]. Yes- “Wendy House” rings a bell though I can’t remember the context. Damn this fading memory of mine!

  32. I have just been reading the blogs about Richard O’Connor. It was in 1988 that I visited the house and met Madeline in order to examine Richard’s voluminous civil aviation papers. I became aware of them after buying Bernard Share’s excellent 1986 book on the history of Aer Lingus. Bernard who is no longer with us, was a free lance journalist and writer who did a lot of work for Aer Lingus. My interest was on account of my obscure interest in Irish civil aviation history in the 1920-30s. The papers were a treasure trove for the historian. I spent two days going through them, making notes etc. I subsequently recommended their deposit into Cork Archives. Nothing happened and I was told that the family preferred to keep them. Presumably they were destroyed when the house was cleared for demolition.

    I should just add that I am a retired Englishman, living in S E London.

    Barry’s book on Cork Airport is OK but a better book is by Donal O Drisceoil & Diarmuid O Drisceoil
    “Fifty Years Have Flown: The History of Cork Airport.” This was published in 2011.

    • Unfortunately I was never aware of that treasure trove. I would love to have seen it [and rummaged through it]. My father was very proud of his father but he was a somewhat laconic character and he rarely talked about his youth or his father. It’s one of my greatest regrets in life that I never talked to him more about his past. I had heard about Cork Airport all right but it wasn’t until long after Dad’s death that I read Barr’s book [which, of course I still have].

      I’m now on a quest to find a copy of O’Drisceoils’ book. Not an easy task – loads of copies for sale but they all seem to be on the far side of the planet and don’t ship to Ireland!

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