A Cork Scribe in Victorian London
Thomas O’Connor (b. 1798), originally from the civil parish of Templemolaga, Co. Cork, emigrated to London in 1820 where he worked as a tailor until his death around 1870. The evidence in extant Irish manuscripts suggests that he had already begun working as a scribe in his native homeplace, but that this role progressed significantly during his years in the Victorian city. His scribal material (in Irish and in English) provides an intriguing insight into a native man of letters who appears to have integrated himself into his host society, while at the same time preserving a distinctive Irish identity. Moreover, his fascinating collection of correspondence in English reveals a man with informed views about the language and literature of his native country. And, in his thirty or so poetic compositions, personal vignettes come to the fore as well as a great admiration for the Young Ireland movement and, in particular, for William Smith O’Brien, the fairhaired boy (an buachaill bán).