Frank O’Connor, who was born Michael Francis O’Connor O’Donovan in Cork on 17 September 1903, was an Irish author of over 150 works and is best known for his short stories and memoirs. He was raised in Cork, the only child of Minnie O’Connor and Michael O’Donovan, and he attended school in the famous North Monastery CBS in Cork City.
In 1918 O’Connor joined the First Brigade of the Irish Republican Army and served in combat during the Irish War of Independence. He was interned by the government of the new Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War and later released in 1923.
Following his release from jail, O’Connor took various positions, including that of teacher of Irish, 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 to great acclaim.
Frank O’Connor had a stroke while teaching at Stanford University in 1961 and it led to his moving back to Ireland. He thereafter lectured in Trinity College Dublin and later died from a heart attack on 10 March 1966. He is buried in Deans Grange Cemetery in Dublin.
O’Connor is considered a master of the short-story genre and he is one of Ireland’s most important writers in the form. He has also won international acclaim for his work as a literary critic, autobiographer, Irish language poetry translator, essayist, travel writer, and biographer. He has also produced novels, original poetry and plays. His works include:
Short story Collections
Guests of the Nation; Bones of Contention; Crab Apple Jelly; The Common Chord;
Traveller’s Samples; The Stories of Frank O’Connor; More Stories by Frank O’Connor;
Domestic Relations; A Set of Variations; The Cornet Player Who Betrayed Ireland;
The Collected Stories (edited by Richard Ellmann); The Collar: Stories of Irish Priests
The Saint and Mary Kate; Dutch Interior
An Only Child (1961) and My Father’s Son (1968) were published posthumously.
Frank O’Connor also published eight books of translated poetry, three travelogues, six books of literary criticism, one book of original poetry, as well as his highly regarded biography of revolutionary Irish leader Michael Collins – The Big Fellow (1937).