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'He was a great man of learning' - friends pay tribute to Ulick


A photograph of Ulick O’Connor next to his coffin

A photograph of Ulick O’Connor next to his coffin

Colin Keegan

A photograph of Ulick O’Connor next to his coffin

writer, journalist and sportsman Ulick O'Connor was compared with Cardinal John Henry Newman - who will be canonised a saint in Rome tomorrow - at his funeral mass.

"Ulick and Newman had much in common - both were pernickety, controversial and somewhat contrarian, and both loved words," said his friend Fr Patrick Ryan, who celebrated the mass along with another friend, Fr John Flavin, in the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar yesterday.


Actor Patrick Bergin, who gave the eulogy, said he got to know Mr O'Connor when he was performing in a play of his called Trinity Of Two.

"We often shared a bottle of wine and I got the full range of his belligerence," said the actor.

Over the years, Mr O'Connor, who would have been 91 today, contributed columns to a number of newspapers, including the Herald. Editor Alan Steenson joined colleagues from the worlds of writing, theatre, the legal profession and sport to pay tribute to the writer.

Fr Ryan said Mr O'Connor was "no respecter of persons, he targeted the top of society and the bottom of the heap, regardless of their social standing or station in life and if occasionally his voice came across as shrill, it was because he was impartial".

"Yet he was kind, he was a great man of learning with a breadth of interests as wide as the sea and his literary output alone was prodigious," he said.

Gifts brought to the altar included his hat, a copy of his biography of Oliver St John Gogarty, the trophy he received as British and Irish Universities boxing champion in 1950 and a copy of the Irish Independent.

The eulogy ended with Yeats' The Song Of The Wandering Aengus and the title of Dylan Thomas' famous poem: And Death Shall Have No Dominion.

Mr O'Connor died last Monday. The chief mourners were his niece Mary Buckley and his friend and personal assistant of many years, Anna Harrison.

Artist Robert Ballagh, playwright Bernard Farrell, biographer Charles Lysaght, actor Geraldine Plunkett, musician Donal Lunny and horse trainer Jim Bolger also attended.