Charles O'Conor of Ballinagare
Life and works
Luke Gibbons & Kieran O'Conor, editors
‘Each essay in this book brings new perspectives and insights in appreciating O’Conor’s multi-faceted career … O’Conor was the most authoritative voice of native, Gaelic-rooted Ireland and one of the most important cultural mediators between native and ascendancy Ireland … he may well be judged the key seminal figure in the emergence of nineteenth-century Irish Catholic historical and political consciousness: others built upon his foundations in the more confrontational era dominated by Daniel O’Connell … Among the riches in this study are a number of essays on O’Conor’s vital role as the pre-eminent Irish language scholar of the eighteenth century … O’Conor was an astute, complex, subtle, resourceful and deep man … Gibbons and O’Conor’s collection of essays is a book to feast upon and one which deserves wide attention’, Fergus O'Ferrall, Dublin Review of Books (July 2015).
‘This collection of essays on the life and work of Charles O’Conor was published in March 2015 [and] marked the publication of the first academic analysis entirely devoted to this neglected – though paramount – intellectual figure … The editors have completed an impressive task … The collection is commendable and comprehensive in its scope and analytical rigour. Given the high quality of the contributions and the detailed editing, it is probable that this excellent work will serve to stimulate further research into Charles O’Conor’s life, output and legacy’, Macdara Dwyer, Eighteenth-Century Ireland (2015).
‘This is a book which has been a long time in the making, but has been well worth the wait … this valuable collection of essays [is] written by the foremost scholars in the field in both Europe and America. It is extremely well documented and embellished with many family portraits in colour … A hero already in his day, this remarkable book can only underscore JF Kenney’s summary of O’Conor as “the most valuable servant Irish history had in the eighteenth century”’, Peter Harbison, Irish Arts Review (Summer 2015).
‘In his characteristically insightful remarks in the final essay of this collection devoted to the “life and works” of Charles O’Conor of Ballinagare, Joep Leerssen describes O’Conor “as one of the most important cultural mediators between native and ascendency Ireland” (248). He is, as this makes clear, a man of singular importance in the cultural, antiquarian and political history of eighteenth-century Ireland … Strongest by some measure on O’Conor’s linguistic and antiquarian endeavours, the essays by Maura O’Gara-O’Riordan, Nollaig Ó Muraíle, [and] Míchéal MacCraith confidently and comprehensively delineate this crucial aspect of O’Conor’s life. These are contextualized and complimented by Clare O’Halloran’s masterly location of O’Conor’s antiquarian scholarship in the context of contemporary debate … These are important new perspectives … there is no better place to engage with that learned, astute, resourceful, subtle and complex man who has not always been fairly judged by a literary, cultural and political history that has, and continues, to perceive more virtue in defiance than in accommodation', James Kelly, Irish Literary Supplement (Fall 2015).