Maurice O’Connell (b. 1936) (Part 2)
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Maurice O’Connell (b. 1936) (Part 2)


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Track 1: Maurice O’Connell’s father, Basil O’Connell, was the youngest son of his parents and was educated at the Royal Navy colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth. In 1916 he was commissioned as a midshipman on active service and his activities in WWI are described. After the war he spent some time at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Maurice relates some of Basil’s experiences in the Navy just after the war and relates an anecdote about Basil’s walking trip from Slevoir in Tipperary via Lakeview (his home) in Killarney and on to Derrynane. This was 1916, and it could be regarded as somewhat foolhardy for a young man with a British account to be walking through the country. He then joined the police service in the Malay States. His older brother, Donal, remained in the naval service and their oldest brother, Maurice James (later 5th Baronet), having been wounded in Gallipoli and being awarded the Military Cross, was invalided out. He later served as aide-de-camp to his uncle, W. B. Hickie, in France. Following the war, Maurice O’Connell did not return home immediately, owing to the tense political situation in Ireland, but he did return in the early 1920s, having previously left the interviewee’s paternal grandmother, Mary Pauline O’Connell (née Hickie), another sister of W. B. Hickie, to look after the property. Track 2: Maurice talks about his younger great-uncle James (known as Shamus) who served in the Anglo-Egyptian Army in Egypt and Sudan. He had been miltitary governor in Sudan and apparently lived life to the full. He suffered a stroke in the early 1900s and returned home to Lakeview House in Killarney where he was looked after by his sister-in-law Mary Pauline. During WWI, he was asked to raise a battalion. As far as Maurice knows, there was no attempt to burn down or damage the house and it still stands today. He speaks about the ‘hands off’ policy which appeared to pertain with regard to the O’Connells and Lakeview House, and recounts an anecdote about an IRA group appearing at the house. After the Treaty, his uncle Maurice offered his services to the Free State Army, and offer which did not work out. He married Maisie Purcell, and in early 1920s, returned home. For financial reasons, he turned the house into a country club hotel, catering to anglers. Maurice returns to his recollections of his father, Basil O’Connell, and his work in the police in the Malay States under the British protectorate, and the role of women during WWI is also discussed. He mentions Molly O’Connell Bianconi who served in the French Army, disguised as a male infantryman, until she was discovered. Track 3: Maurice remarks on the high casualty rate of officers who had to lead from the front. However, fortunately none of his near relatives were killed. As he understands it, they felt a strong sense of duty which also affected women who were supposed to encourage their men to join up. He discusses the fact that amongst the landed gentry, men generally undertook military service. The story of Arthur Hickie (a brother of W. B. Hickie), who also served in the Army but later became a priest and officiated at Maurice’s parents marriage in 1935, is told. He talks about correspondence between Basil and his mother when he was at the naval colleges of Osborne and Dartmouth. Maurice discusses the effects of war on military families, particularly the Hickies and O’Connells. He theorises on the cause of the change in attitude towards war during this period and also discusses the modern controversy over which position to take towards WWI. He considers that his great-uncle, W. B. Hickie, although a professional career soldier, was not happy about sending people out to be killed and maimed. This is confirmed, in his view, by WB’s devotion to the work of the British Legion, evidenced by his work on behalf of WWI survivors and their families as a leading figure in the British Legion (Southern Ireland) and as a Senator from his retirement from the Army in 1920 until his death in 1950. Track 4: Maurice details the ancestry of Sir Morgan O’Connell, his grandfather. After Morgan graduated with a degree in Agriculture, he worked for some time in the Land Commission. He was not a military man and his great interest was fishing. Maurice considers that he was probably a lukewarm Home Ruler but duty and service were important to him and so, with the outbreak of war, he became heavily involved with the recruitment campaign. In Morgan’s correspondence, the rise of Sinn Féin and the rising anti-war feeling is chronicled. Maurice discusses the attitude towards recruitment and involvement in the war. Morgan died of injuries sustained in a drunken attack in 1919 and Maurice tells of the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. The descendants of Morgan O’Connell and Mary Pauline Hickie are outlined. The eldest son, Maurice, served in the Royal Fusiliers at Gallipoli and was wounded, resulting in permanent damage to his right hand. The second son, Donal, was in the Navy, took part in WWI and later continued his professional career. He retired in the 1930s to Lakeview, and was very involved in the Order of Malta in Kerry and was a founder member of the Kerry Archaeological Survey. Donal rejoined the Navy in WWII and became commander of HMS Resource, a supply ship. After some time at home, he worked as an attendant at the British Museum. Maurice considers that although Donal was a fine naval officer, his true calling was archaeology.

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Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

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48 hours

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8.75 MB, 9.97 MB, 18.30 MB, 10.23 MB, 22.26 MB

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The Hickie and O'Connell families of Tipperary and Kerry

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore