MANY THANKS GO TO JER KENNELLY OF KNOCKANURE, CO. KERRY FOR ALL HIS HELP WITH MY O'CONNOR RESEARCH AND WITH MY NORTH KERRY RESEARCH IN GENERAL.
It is believed that Patrick was born in the townland of Dirreen Lower in Athea, Co. Limerick and moved as an adult across the county border to Kilbaha South, Newtownsandes, Co. Kerry. Note that Newtownsandes is now called Moyvane and that Dirreen is spelled in some documents as Derreen, Direen or Dereen. According to notes made by Jer Kennelly many years ago following a conversation with a Ned Buckley who lived just across the Gale river from the O'Connor farm in Kilbaha, the O'Connors came from that part of Dirreen known as Scrahan. I am told that Scrahan is situated near the iron bridge in Dirreen, "next to the Mulvihill farm". According to Jer's notes a Mr. Scanlon "got the land of three tenants", including the O'Connor farm in Scrahan. We do not know if this means the O'Connors were evicted or whether the O'Connors chose to leave the Scrahan farm and move to Kilbaha.
There are two entries in Griffith's Valuation (with a printing date of 1 July 1852) for a Patrick Connors occupying land in Dirreen. One or both of these could refer to our Patrick above. One entry shows that a Patrick Connors was renting a house from a Timothy Sullivan and the other shows a Patrick Connors renting a house and land from a John Connors. There is also an entry for a Johanna Connors in Dirreen who was renting a house and garden from a Daniel Liston.
With regard to the Griiffiths entry above, listing Patrick Connors as the lessee of a house and land from John Connors, Michael O'Connor of Co. Wexford has kindly provided us with information on the family of a John Connors/O'Connor of Dirreen Lower who appears to have connections with our O'Connor family. For further information on John's family please click on O'Connor in the Connected Families section of this website.
There is also an entry in Griffith's Valuation (with a printing date of 15 December 1851) for a Patrick Connors in Kilbaha South. There are no other entries for Connors or Connor or O'Connor for the entire parish of Murher (name of civil parish, equivalent to Catholic parish name of Newtownsandes), so it is also a possibility that this Patrick Connors is our Patrick. It is also a possibility that our Patrick may have farmed in both Dirreen and Kilbaha. The Patrick listed in Griffith's Valuation for Kilbaha was the lessee of a "Herd's ho.", presumably a herdsman's house, along with about 28 acres of land. The lessor was a Rev. Samuel B. Leonard. Nowadays there are a number of O'Connor families established in Moyvane, such as the "Slate Connors" (so named because at one time a member of this family had the only house in the parish with a slate roof) in Clounbrane, and the O'Connor family of Keylod, but there appears to be no connection between these families and our O'Connors.
Another O'Connor with Kilbaha connections was John Connor who was married to Catherine Connor (we do not know if Connor was her maiden or married name). They lived in Kilbaha and had a daughter named Hanora who was baptised on 2 January 1862 with sponsors Jeremiah Connor and Johanna (what looks like) Flahivan. Could John and his family have been connected to our O'Connor family?
Diane Kern in the United States has sent me information an another O'Connor family from Newtownsandes who are probably not related to our O'Connors but for the benefit of other O'Connor researchers, here is Diane's information on the family of Bryan O'Connor, her great-great-grandfather: Bryan was born in Newtownsandes (name of townland is unknown), one of the 15 children of Michael O'Connor and Catherine whose surname was believed to have been Flaherty. He left Newtownsandes for the U.S. (possibly via Canada) in the late 1840s/early 1850s and later married Margaret O'Keeffe from Duagh, Co. Kerry (with whose family he may have travelled to Canada). Family lore has it that Bryan had to leave Ireland because he was to be hung for stealing a sheep to feed his starving family. If you would like to get in touch with Diane regarding this family, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The O'Connor surname is very common in all areas of Ireland, especially in counties Kerry, Limerick and Cork. The name is derived from the Irish 'O Conchubhair' from the first name, 'Conchubhair', meaning, perhaps, 'lover of hounds'. There were five septs: in Connaught (O'Connor Don), Offaly, north Clare, Keenaght in Co. Derry, and Kerry. In Kerry, the O'Connors were chiefs of a large territory in the north of the county. The Norman invasions displaced them further north to the Limerick border where they retained much of their power until the seventeenth century. Today the descendants of these O'Connors are by far the most numerous of all the descendants of the original septs.