O'Connell, Patrick L, 1920-1997, Jesuit priest

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

O'Connell, Patrick L, 1920-1997, Jesuit priest

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Paddy O'Connell

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

07 September 1920-11 February 1997


Born: 07 September 1920, Galway City, County Galway
Entered: 07 September 1938, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 08 September 1951, Heythrop College, Oxford, England
Final Vows: 02 February 1956, Milltown Park, Dublin
Died: 11 February 1997, St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin

Part of the Manresa, Dollymount, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1949 at Heythrop, Oxfordshire (ANG) studying
by 1963 at Rome, Italy (ROM) studying
by 1972 at Rome, Italy (ROM) studying

◆ Interfuse
Interfuse No 92 : August 1996


Fr Patrick (Paddy) O’Connell (1920-1997)

7th Sept. 1920: Born in Galway.
Early education: Presentation Brothers, Cork and Belvedere College
7th Sept. 1938: Entered the Society at Emo
1940 - 1944: Rathfarnham, studied Classics at UCD
1944 - 1947: Tullabeg, studied Philosophy
1947 - 1948: Belvedere College, Regency
1948 - 1952: Heythrop College, studied Theology
8th Sept. 1951: Ordained at Heythrop College
1952 - 1953: Rathfarnham, Tertianship
1953 - 1955: Gonzaga College, teaching
1955 - 1961: Milltown Park, teaching Dogma and Church History
1961 - 1963: Rome, Oriental Inst., Study : Oriental Church History
1963 - 1967; Milltown Park, Prof. Fundamental Theology
1967 - 1970: Rome, Gregorian - (Apr - Oct)
1970 - 1971: Sabbatical year
1971 - 1972: Milltown Park (Sem 1), Rome (Sem 2)
1973 - 1974: Rome: Dean, Faculty of Oriental Theology and Superior of the Community
1974 - 1984: Leeson St. - Editor of “Studies”
1984 - 1997: Manresa: Curate, St. Gabriel's Parish

Fr. Paddy O'Connell was born in Galway on the 7th September 1920. His father, who was from Kerry, was a school inspector. He began his schooling with the Presentation Brothers, Cork and finished in Belvedere College. In 1938 on his eighteenth birthday he joined the Jesuits. After two years noviceship in Emo, near Portarlington, his long years of study began. Four years at UCD obtaining an MA in Latin and Greek, three years philosophy in Rahan, Co. Offaly and four years theology in England where he was ordained in 1951. In the early sixties he obtained a doctorate in Theology in Rome.

Fr. Paddy was at home among books of all kinds, but they were not his only love. He was keen on sport and current affairs. He was very much himself in the company of young people; what interested them interested him. For a number of years while teaching theology in Milltown Park he was the rugby trainer of Presentation College, Bray. Apart from teaching in the Milltown Institute, where he served as Dean of the Faculty of Theology, he also taught briefly in Belvedere and Gonzaga in Dublin and at the Oriental Institute in Rome where he was Rector in 1973-74. In the ten years before coming to St. Gabriel's he was editor of the Jesuit Review Studies. Up until recently he acted as censor of several Jesuit magazines. He learned to read quickly!

When Fr. Paddy was appointed to St. Gabriel's he lived for a while in Manresa before he had a house in the parish. However, he always remained a member of the Manresa community and had his dinner there a few days a week.

Of all the jobs he had as a priest the one that made him happiest was his time in St. Gabriel's. There is no giving without receiving. As he gave himself tirelessly to young and old, Fr. Paddy received encouragement and support for his life as a Jesuit priest. His Jesuit brothers wish to thank all of you in the parish who helped him find happiness in serving in the parish in his final twelve years.

His younger brother John was priest of the Dublin diocese and died ten years ago while parish priest of Brackenstown. Fr. Paddy is survived by his sisters, Nora in England and Maureen in Canada, and his many nieces and nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé ar a anam.

Charlie Davy


It is not a case of what can one say about Fr. O'Connell, rather one wonders what can one leave out when writing about him. He was such a “Complete Human Being” in every sense of the word and a wonderful Priest. He truly lived his vocation and gave 200% all of the time, never thinking of himself.

Academically he had reached great heights yet he was a very humble man. He loved his work in this parish and he loved the people and was always concerned for them. He took unto himself a lot of the worries and problems of those he served.

There was another side to Fr. O'Connnell. Yes he always had a smile and a greeting whenever he met you, he was most gracious. Then he would start joking and pulling the leg and all in good fun; he was the best of company. One of his favourite television programmes was Taggart, and when Taggart actor Mark McManus died, Fr. O'Connell celebrated a Mass for him. This was his way of saying “Thank You” for the hours of pleasure and relaxation he had received.

There are so many wonderful memories of Fr. O'Connell, but the one I will hold onto is seeing him on a sunny morning sitting on the concrete parapet under the portico outside the sacristy, the jacket open, a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other and delighted to chat to anyone who happened to come along.

We have lost a good friend and a wonderful character but as followers of Christ we must rejoice for him now and thank the good Lord for giving us the privilege of knowing him. He died on the feast of our Lady of Lourdes. May he rest in peace.

Focus 2000 Group


Fr. Paddy has been our much loved Spiritual Director almost since he came to the Parish more than 12 years ago. During all that time members of the branch and all parishioners who wished to attend, had the spiritual benefit of the Mass which he offered and a short talk before the monthly meetings he attended.

At the monthly meetings we had the benefit of his advice, encouragement and help in the recruitment of new members for whom he was always on the look-out, all of which has helped to ensure that our branch remains vibrant.

Over the years he arranged a number of Sunday "Afternoons of Prayer" at the Little Sisters of the Poor Church in Sybil Hill and in the Parish Church. His care for the problems of members, especially sick members, was much appreciated.

Ar dheis De go raibh a ainm dilis.

St. Joseph's Young Priest Society


For several years now Fr. O'Connell has been holding a Bible Class on Tuesday nights and all who attended feel so privileged to have participated.
The members of this group wish to acknowledge the tremendous amount of work and preparation he put into it each week and how much we have all learned. It was all very informal but he made all
the readings come to life for us.

Not only will we miss our Bible studies but we will miss the grand finale of each session when he celebrated Mass for us and then provided a couple of large pavlovas with the tea!

Bible Study Group


The people of Dollymount Grove are grieving the loss of a Neighbour and Friend as well as their priest. Fr. O'Connell was a familiar sight driving in and out, doing a wide U-turn to park in his usual spot, and God help anyone who got in the way! He was always ready to stop for à chat and knew everyone he met, down to their dislikes and failings, which he worked on to his advantage. But he also knew their good points and never missed an opportunity to offer praise and encouragement.

He was keen on gardening - especially watching other people - and was always quick to point out the weeds. He loved children and they returned his affection. He could not pass the boys playing football on the road without joining in, and indeed sadly he was seen out with then just a few short weeks ago.

Fr. O'Connell was welcomed in every house and brought consolation and comfort to the elderly and the lonely. He was new to parish work when he came to St. Gabriel's in 1983 and frequently became distressed after being with people in their last hours. He never lost this emotion and could empathise with those in grief and sorrow. But he did not dwell on sadness for long and used his ability and will to force a smile and lift a heart in even the darkest situations

Auaimhneas siorai ar a anam uasal.

Dollymount Grove


Fr. O'Connell was one of us yet he was also a man apart. His deep knowledge of theology was coupled with a childlike innocence of expression. He brought the comfort of Christ to many, particularly those he visited at home. His rare gift of heart-warming laughter brightened our days.

No trained journalist could have lowered barriers of reserve more quickly. He became both friend and pastor. When our family suffered a bereavement Fr. O'Connell suffered too. Yet he made us aware that death is a new beginning, that there is joy in Heaven, Fr. O'Connell was the epitome of Christianity. He was Christlike.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

A Personal Tribute

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1997


Father Patrick O’Connell SJ (OB 1938)

Paddy O'Connell arrived in Belvedere in September 1938 [1936]. He had just finished his Inter Cert in another school, and joined us with the reputation of what we schoolboys called a “swot”. This meant that he would spend most of his time with his head in the books, and would consequently be somewhat anti-social. It was not long before we discovered how wrong we were. In no time he had got involved in all the extra-curricular activities, such as the Debating Society, the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Mission Society, and, of course, the rugby. He even made an abortive attempt to start a chess club. In about one month he must have learned the names of every boy in the school and he was so involved that one could have got the impression that he was a Belvederian of long standing. It was well known that he was a great reader and that he borrowed books from a number of city libraries. This fact tempted one of the boys to ask, “Paddy, is it true that you read four books before breakfast every morning?” With that O'Connell glint in the eye that we all came to know so well as time passed, he replied, “No. It is not true. I can only manage to read three”. I was told that on another occasion, when the same question was asked, Paddy replied, “Did you say read or write?” We all grew to like him as time passed, and when he pushed Gerry Victory into second place in his first house exam, we all believed that Paddy had achieved the impossible.

He was a lover of sport, and while rugby was new to him, he threw himself into the game with a gusto that was well-intentioned if some what lacking in finesse. He was a danger in the lineout, for as a schoolboy, he was a big boned second row forward, all elbows and knees, and one of his own team was just as likely to get a black eye as was one of the opponents. Coming off the field in Roscrea, I asked Seamus Henry, who was to captain the Senior team that won the Cup that year, what he thought of Paddy's performance in the lineout. He replied, briefly but tellingly, “Very effective, if somewhat unusual”. He carried his love of rugby right through his life and coached many school teams, even when much involved in the academic life later on. Although gifted in many ways, he had no musical ability, even if he had a great love for it. He never made the school opera, but displayed a knowledge of Gilbert and Sullivan lore that put us budding thespians to shame.

In September 1938, six Belvederians arrived in the Jesuit novitiate in Emo, with two or more of our year to follow at a later date. It was like Belvedere being moved to the midlands. At school, Paddy had distinguished himself in Fr Charlie Byrne's Latin and Greek classes. We were not surprised when the Master of Novices asked Paddy to help some of the other novices whose training in the classics had been some what limited. During our time in Emo, Paddy told me that he envied his brother, John, who was a student in Clonliffe College and who eventually became a priest in the Dublin dioceşes. John would have ample scope to do what Paddy called “specifically priestly work” in a parish, while he, as a Jesuit, might have limited opportunities to do so. During the last assignment of his life, his hopes of doing this type of pastoral work were granted.

As a Jesuit, he held many important positions. His love of books made him an automatic choice for the post of Librarian in Jesuit communities. He was the editor of the Jesuit quarterly, Studies, and lectured in Milltown Park and Heythrop College, the Irish and English Jesuit theologates. While resident in Dublin, between his many postings abroad, he was of immense help to the victims of alcoholism. His final assignment outside the country saw him occupy the position of Rector of the Oriental Institute in Rome.

His love of rugby brought him into contact with many schools, some run by Jesuits and some by other orders. While engaged in the study of theology at Heythrop before ordination, he did a little bit of coaching in his spare time, and even turned out and played with the local club, a thing that would not have been tolerated in Ireland at the time. But in spite of these contacts, he never lost his love for Belvedere. During the last decade of his life, when he was a curate in the parish of St Gabriel, Dollymount, he came in contact with many of his past pupils who lived in the area. They still regarded him as their old master and were grateful that he was always available to listen to their problems and rejoice in their successes. These were the happiest years of his life and the close proximity of his fellow Jesuits in Manresa House was a special bonus that added much to that happiness.

Paddy was always an optimist, and when I visited him in hospital three days before his death, he assured me that he would be back working in the parish in about two weeks. But that was not to be. His death came as a great shock to his many friends, and to the parishioners of St Gabriel's. One of them, Raymond O’Driscoll, penned a tribute to him in verse, two lines. of which I will quote, for they epitomise the Paddy we all knew so well, and now so sadly miss. May he rest in peace.

"For thirteen years he served us; his labours never ceased,
A humble man, a learned man, a dedicated priest.”



Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

Identifier of related entity


Category of relationship


Type of relationship

Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-


O'Connell, Patrick L, 1920-1997, Jesuit priest

Dates of relationship

Description of relationship

Entered Province.

Access points area

Subject access points


Control area

Authority record identifier

IE IJA J/533

Maintained by

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes