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My ancestors - O'Mara - Contents


James O'Mara



James O'Mara and Agnes Cashel.
Detail of 1905 photo.




James O'Mara (see here),
Home Rule MP, Sinn Fein TD, Member of First Dail, Free State TD.
See his election record.
He was born 6th Aug 1873, Limerick,
educ Christian Brothers, Limerick,
biography says educ CBS, Spanish Point, Co.Clare,
article says educ Crescent College, Limerick.

He was educ Clongowes, school register says he was there 1888-92, NOT 1888-91.
He became friends with The O'Rahilly there.
Writing from Clongowes: "We go to bed every night at 8.30 and get up, it seems to me, about 3, but the fellows call it half-past 6".
He knew Dr. David Humphrys since early 1890s, when both were single in Limerick. (His daughter would much later marry Dr. David's son.)
After school, he went to work in the family business, O'Mara's bacon factory.
He was educ Royal University of Ireland, studied for university at home after work.
1st Arts, RUI, summer 1893.
1st Eng, RUI, summer 1893, 1st class hons, 1st place in Ireland.
2nd Eng, RUI, 1st place in Ireland.

Move to London, 1893:
He worked as a bacon merchant in the thriving family business.
He was sent to London as O'Mara's agent after his uncle Jim died 1893.
He couldn't find time to continue studies after went to London. Had to postpone RUI studies for business.
Listed as "Agent", living 35 Norfolk St, Strand, London, at time of marriage. This is Norfolk Street, Holborn, which is now gone, but was between Arundel Street and Surrey Street (see map).

James mar 1895 to Agnes Cashel [born 21st Dec 1870, poss. descendant of Edward III].
They lived "St.Chad's", Epsom, Surrey, after marriage 1895.
As at Jan 1898 the O'Mara business had an address at 3 Bow High St, London SE (see map), with a telephone (no. 4515).
James and Agnes moved to Sydenham, SC London, in 1898.
He finally got BA, Royal University of Ireland, summer 1898.

Home Rule MP, 1900-07:
James was elected Home Rule MP for Irish Parliamentary Party (largest party in Ireland, 3rd largest party in UK) in 1900.
He was returned unopposed for Kilkenny South, 6 Oct 1900, in UK general election, Sept-Oct 1900. He was age 27.
He continued living London.
See brief biography in biographies of new MPs, The Times, 16 Oct 1900, p.9.
"Winston Churchill" [born 1874, first elected 1900] "and Dad were the two youngest Members of Parliament. At some championship in the House, chess or billiards (but I think chess), the two of them reached the finals. They were both young enough to be elated at outplaying their elders" [Lavelle, 1961].
[P102/72] is letter of 6 Dec 1900 from him to The O'Rahilly. He is at 10 Bow High St, London (would be O'Mara's business address).
As at [UK census, 31st Mar 1901] James and Agnes were living 30 Maida Hill West, Maida Vale, London.
[Lavelle, 1961] says he used obstructionist tactics. He spoke for hours one night in June 1901 on bream or otter trawling off the coasts of Ireland, "a subject about which he knew next to nothing". Does this refer to this brief question by him on 20 June 1901?
He travelled to Romania Oct 1902 to sound out prospects for trade in bacon.
Bacon from the factory at Turnu Severin (now called Drobeta-Turnu Severin, on River Danube, SW Romania) was first sold on London market 1903.

His Private Member's Bill made St.Patrick's Day a national holiday in Ireland 1903.
The Bank Holidays (Ireland) Bill was introduced by O'Mara and others in the Commons on 24 Feb 1903. See his contributions in 1903. The bill was passed by Commons 11 Mar 1903, passed by Lords 23 Mar 1903.
He made many representations on behalf of his constituents, particularly concerning evictions and the land issue.
Agnes was a pioneer supporter of the Suffragette movement when she lived in England (Women's Social and Political Union founded 1903). James - though he supported them politically - was strongly opposed to his wife actually getting involved in demonstrations.
He accompanied his brother Joseph to America. They arrived 14th May 1904 [Ellis Island]. James returned c.20th June. See [Lavelle, 1961].
He introduced The O'Rahilly to the Irish Home Rulers in London [O'Rahilly, 1991]. A letter 4th July 1904 on his return from US to London says: "I find O'Rahilly has moved to Brighton since I left".
He introduced a further Private Member's Bill to close the pubs on St. Patrick's Day. Introduced in Commons by him and others 22 Mar 1905. Supported by Sir Thomas Esmonde, 11th Bt. But think this was not successful, since there was another such bill 1906 (see here).

He was returned again unopposed for Kilkenny South, 20 Jan 1906, in UK general election, Jan-Feb 1906.
Still living 30 Maida Hill West, Maida Vale as at Apr 1906. See postcard to his 7 year old dau Pat (think from her grandfather).
The postcard says: "Will you tell your Dad I wish him every success with the St.Pat's Bill. I was sorry to see the opposition it met with." The second bill to close the pubs on St. Patrick's Day was successful 1906.
He corresponded with The O'Rahilly, now in the US and, like James, growing strongly pro-Sinn Fein.
He resigned from the Home Rule party June 1907 to join Sinn Fein. One of the first to do so. The start of the swing towards Arthur Griffith's party.
He resigned as MP (by-election to replace him held 29 July 1907). Sinn Fein was more an idea than a party at this point.
He said he had to leave Parliament: "the British were so charming, I would have been won over to them!"
See his many contributions to parliament 1901-07.

James and Agnes moved autumn 1907 to "Dunlica", College Rd, Dulwich, London, lived there until 1914.
Children born and grew up London, came over to Ireland to stay with their grandparents in Limerick, and holiday in Kilkee, Co.Clare.
It was NOT him who resigned as a trustee of the Home Rule party 1908 (that was his father).
He subscribed to The O'Rahilly's efforts to revive the daily Sinn Fein newspaper 1910.

Return to Ireland, 1914:
James came back to Ireland with his family in 1914 (after more than 20 years) to run Donnelly's bacon factory, Dublin.
They moved to 15 Ely Place, Dublin. Listed there in [Thom's, 1917]. The previous occupant was Oliver St.John Gogarty.
Agnes met the Dublin Suffragettes, including Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington.
James accompanied his son Steen to America when Steen was accepted at Georgetown University, DC. They arrived at Ellis Island, NY, on 22nd Nov 1915.
He acquired a summer house, "Barfield", just outside Galway, there as at 1917-19.
He funded the re-launch in early 1917 of Arthur Griffith's paper Nationality.
He became Assistant Financial Director of Sinn Fein in autumn 1917.
He moved to 43 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, lived there c.1918 to c.1925.

Sinn Fein TD, Director of Elections, Trustee of Dail funds:
James became Director of Finance for Sinn Fein 1918.
He was the 4th and last Sinn Fein Director of Elections for their stunning victory in the Dec 1918 general election (also here), all 3 of his predecessors having been successively jailed. The massive election victory made independence inevitable. His obituary says: "It was perhaps of all his work for the national cause that of which he was most proud."

TD 1918-21: He was himself elected Sinn Fein TD for Kilkenny South in the Dec 1918 election, with over 80 percent of the vote.
W.T. Cosgrave won in Kilkenny North.
He was a member of the First Dail, but was not at its very first meeting in Jan 1919.
In the rollcall at the Dail's first meeting on 21 Jan 1919, "Séamus Ó Meaghra" is "as láthair" (absent).
He moved his summer house in 1919 to Cashel House, Co.Galway, on Cashel Bay.

Trustee of Dail Eireann funds 1919-21: He was one of the 3 trustees of the funds of the underground government, Dail Eireann, June 1919 on, the others being Eamon de Valera and Dr. Michael Fogarty, Bishop of Killaloe.

Went to US, 1919-21:
He went to US Oct 1919 to join de Valera (there since June 1919) to campaign for recognition of the new Irish republic, and raise funds.
He went as a stowaway, because denied an exit visa by Britain. He hid among lifeboats, helped by two of the crew.
He and de Valera spent subsequent period mobilising support of Irish in America. Huge fund raising drive (the Irish Republican Loan) for the new self-declared Republic, and campaign for its recognition, while War of Independence raged at home.
See Republican Loan film, 1919 made by his brother-in-law Jim Sullivan.
"James O'Mara, Treasurer of the Government of which de Valera is President, has arrived from Ireland to take part in the Loan campaign .. Apparently he came by the same mysterious methods as did Mr.de Valera, both having been denied passports by the British Government" [a New York evening paper, 2nd Dec 1919].
"The Irish-American leaders in New York understood him to be a millionaire, which gave him a status with them that none of the rest of us enjoyed" [McCartan, 1932].
Agnes was also denied a passport, but managed to join him in America for a time. She sailed to US to see him, with her dau Pat, in Apr 1920.
He was founder member of American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic (AARIR) 1920.
De Valera returned to Ireland Dec 1920. Jim persuaded to stay on in US.
Convention of the AARIR, Chicago, Apr 1921.
He had disagreements with de Valera. He resigned his position in the US, his trusteeship of the Dail funds and his Dail seat, May 1921.
He returned to Ireland July 1921 (as the truce was being signed).
They had raised $10 m (about $500 m in today's money), funding the War of Independence and the Dail.
They had not got official US recognition for the Irish Republic, but America had brought strong pressure on Britain to call a truce and negotiate.

Pro-Treaty:
James supported the Treaty Dec 1921, but took no side in civil war (any of his family that did take a side were, however, Republican).
He tried to speak to de Valera: "Now you will want your friends around you", and de Valera waved him away and said: "Not you any way". "It was nearly 20 years before they spoke to each other again" [Lavelle, 1961].
He was appointed the first Irish Ambassador to the USA by the provisional Free State government, Feb 1922. Only served for a few months.
He was selected but declined to contest June 1922 general election.
He was appalled by the Civil War. "The disillusion of that time was soul-searing. Disillusion came quicker to Dad than to most of his fellows, because he now stood alone - an outsider - looking on at the debacle of all he had helped to build" [Lavelle, 1961].
He was close friends with Harry Boland (killed July 1922) and Michael Collins (killed Aug 1922).
He tried desperately to stop the execution without trial of his friend Liam Mellows, Dec 1922, which "left the longest and most bitter memory of all the bitter memories of the civil war" [Lavelle, 1961]. His dau Eithne said that after this he came home and tore up all his things.
Biography in [Thom's Irish Who's Who, 1923] lists him as "R.C.S." Think this means member of Royal Colonial Society.

Free State TD for Dublin South 1924-27,
After W.T. Cosgrave's brother Philip Cosgrave died Oct 1923, there was a by-election for Dublin South, Mar 1924. James stood and narrowly held the seat for the pro-Treaty Cumann na nGaedheal. See results. The opponent he narrowly beat was the future Taoiseach Sean Lemass.
He refused a ministerial position in W.T. Cosgrave's cabinet.
Many years later, his grandson married W.T.'s niece.
He was a TD until 1927.
He moved to The Grove, Killiney, Co.Dublin, c.1925.
Had Stephen O'Mara accepted the baronetcy, he would have been the 2nd Baronet (succeeding 1926).
He was one of the richest men in Ireland. Muffie de Courcy said that at one stage, Ireland had its first 4 millionaires, and they said James was one of them. (Note £1m in 1935 is about £100m in today's money.)
He did not contest June 1927 general election, retired from politics.
Unlike many of his comrades he was never in jail in his life.
He was angered by the fact that a lot of the money he raised in America, which was meant to be for the Irish Republic, was controversially used by de Valera to set up the Fianna Fail / de Valera family newspaper, the Irish Press, 1931.

In retirement in 1930s he went on cruises with the two unmarried daughters Maureen and Sheila, who both found husbands on board ship. He travelled in North and South America, North Africa, Middle East.
He sold Donnelly's to his brother Phons mid-late 1940s.
History at Cashel House says: "Jim O'Mara and his wife celebrated their Golden Jubilee" [50 yrs married] "in April 1945 in the gardens of Cashel House".
He had black hair, red moustache.

Death, 1948:
He died 30 Eccles St, Dublin (think part of Mater Hospital), Sun 21st Nov 1948 [NOT 22nd], age 75 yrs [GROI].
See obituary, Irish Times, November 22, 1948.
Donnelly's closed for two days, Mon 22nd and Tue 23rd, as a mark of respect.
Funeral 23 Nov, bur Glasnevin Cemetery.
Fr.Paddy celebrated the mass. Those present included the former and future Taoiseach, de Valera; the President, Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh; Seán MacEntee, Gerald Boland and W.T. Cosgrave.
See funeral report, Irish Times, November 24, 1948.
See obituary in Limerick Leader, c.12th Dec 1948.
See other obituary.
"There was no tricolour over his coffin, no bugles sounded over his grave. No guns were fired in salute but we paid silent tribute to him for all he had done and suffered that Ireland might be free." [Lavelle, 1961].

The family sold Cashel House 1952.
Agnes died Mon 2nd June 1958, The Grove, Killiney, age 87 yrs [GROI].
See obituary, Evening Press, Tue 3rd June.
See death notice, Irish Times, June 4, 1958.
Funeral 4 June, bur Glasnevin Cemetery.
See Photos of children.
James and Agnes had issue:


  1. Stephen O'Mara,
    "Steen", Stephen C., born 10th Sept 1896, Epsom, Surrey,
    educ Clongowes (like his father),
    he is listed with other boarders at Clongowes in [Census, April 1911], his family in England, it incorrectly states he was born Co.Limerick,
    educ Georgetown University, in Georgetown, Washington DC,
    arrived at Ellis Island, NY, with his father on 22nd Nov 1915 on the St.Paul from Liverpool, see [Lavelle, 1961],
    fought on Republican side in civil war,
    captured June 1922, not closely guarded, escaped and came home,
    didn't marry,
    had Stephen O'Mara accepted the baronetcy, he would have been the 3rd Baronet (succeeding 1948),
    living Killiney at mother's death 1958,
    died 9th Aug 1972, St. John of God's Hospital, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, age 75 yrs, bur Glasnevin.

    
    
  2. Patricia O'Mara [Pat],
    researched family tree, author of [Lavelle, 1961],
    Patricia Mary Kathleen, wedding invite has "Patricia Kathleen Mary",
    born 23rd July 1898, Sydenham, London,
    in [Lavelle, 1961] she remembers holidays in Kilkee, Co.Clare, Percy French, the West Clare Railway,
    and the song "Are Ye Right There Michael" (1902), (audio from here and here and here),
    educ Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham,
    joined Cumann na mBan after 1916 Rising, she remembers in [Lavelle, 1961] how nervous she was going to tell her father,
    educ TCD, did not get degree,
    educ National University (Science), think this refers to the fact that she was educ UCG (Science), did not get degree,
    sailed to US (with her mother) to see her father Apr 1920, age 21, on board ship she wrote: "We have a dance every night; all kind of nationalities here .. I have danced with a Swede, a Norwegian, a Greek, a Bulgarian, an American - isn't that funny?", spent lot of time summer 1920 in New York,
    in winter of 1920-1, with their parents still in the US, Pat and Steen put up IRA men on the run from the British in Fitzwilliam Place, and allowed Sinn Fein committees to hold their (illegal) meetings there, their father didn't hear of all this for months afterwards, and was not happy when he did,

    she met Dick when both at UCG, her studying Science, him studying Medicine,
    poss. first met at Barfield c.1918,
    engaged think late 1920, didn't get married until he got his first job 1924,
    mar 2nd Jan 1924, St.Andrew's church, Westland Row, Dublin, to Dick Lavelle and had issue.

    
    
  3. Maureen O'Mara [Maureen Agnes], born 13th Dec 1901,
    educ Paris,
    member of Cumann na mBan in War of Independence,
    nurse at Mater Hospital,
    nurse at Cork St Hospital, The Coombe, temp 1925-6,
    nurse at Holles St maternity hospital,
    mar 29th Sept 1937 [her age 35, him age 43, they met on a cruise, he was ship's doctor]
    to Dr. George Duggan [born 22 July 1894] and had issue.


  4. Eileen O'Mara, born 7th Aug 1903,
    Eibhlin, listed as "Eiblin A. M. O'Mara" in [NUI, 1964],
    educ Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Co.Dublin,
    educ Paris,
    wit her aunt Helen Cashel's mar 1926,
    architect, B.Arch. UCD 1929,
    the first woman architect to qualify at UCD (or possibly in Ireland),
    mar 30th July 1929 to Dr. Alec Spain [poss. descendant of Edward III] and had issue.


  5. Dr. Una O'Mara, born 19th Jan 1905,
    listed as "Una M. M. O'Mara" in [NUI, 1964],
    educ Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Co.Dublin,
    doctor, educ NUI,
    MB, B.Ch., B.A.O., 1930 [NOT 1929],
    never practiced,
    mar 1932 to Dr. John Shanley [born 17th Sep 1895].


  6. Sheila O'Mara,
    Sheila Mary, born 23rd May 1906,
    educ school in Cambridge, must be St.Mary's,
    educ Paris,
    BA (Economics) Oct 1929,
    mar 16 Feb 1944 [her age 37, him age 47], Ballybrack RC church (near Killiney), Co.Dublin [GROI]
    to Capt. George Rice [George Henry, born 1897, Castletownshend, Co.Cork],
    George was son of Richard Rice, who was said to be a naval officer,
    see his family at Castletownshend in [Census, 1901], father listed as "divisional carpenter" (a maritime job, responsible for repairs to boats),
    see his family living at Ardglass, Co.Down, in [Census, 1911], father listed as a "publican",
    in 1923 he joined Pacific Steam Navigation Company as Junior 4th officer,
    he was officer on luxury liner voyages to South America, he met her when she was on a cruise, he was First Mate at the time,
    at mar he is listed as "master mariner", living 69b Ravenhill Rd, Belfast (see map),
    they were mar by her uncle Fr. Paddy O'Mara,
    no issue,

    they lived Templeville, on Killiney Hill Rd (just down road from The Grove), Killiney, Co.Dublin, listed there in [Thom's, 1945] to [Thom's, 1958],
    Templeville is one of oldest houses in Killiney, early Georgian,
    he became Captain of the "Samothrace" 1946,
    she died think Templeville, 21st Aug 1951, age 45 yrs, bur Glasnevin,
    in 1956 he was appointed Commodore of Pacific Steam Navigation Company's fleet, taking the "Reina Del Mar" to South America,
    he became Commandant,
    he died think Templeville, 13th Aug 1963, age 66 yrs [mass card], bur Glasnevin.
    In The Grove today (no longer in the family), there is a painting of The Grove just inside the door, signed "Rice". Is this him?
    Their house still called "Templeville" as at 1992.


  7. Eithne O'Mara,
    born Eithne Maire, 14th Oct 1908, family home, "Dunlica", Dulwich, London [GRO.UK],
    "Eithne Mary" on passport, passport is wrong to say born Co.Dublin.





James O'Mara, 1870s.
See larger and full size.


   
James O'Mara, must be late 1880s.
(Left) See full size.
(Right) See full size.


   
James O'Mara as a youth, 1890.
From this picture.



James O'Mara, 1898.
From this picture.
See larger and full size.



James O'Mara, 1924. From this picture.


   
James O'Mara, Cashel House, 1948.


   
(Left) Capt. George Rice. From article on him becoming a Commodore, 1956. See full size.
(Right) Sheila O'Mara. From mass card, 1951.




James O'Mara grave, Glasnevin

James O'Mara grave, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
Location: vD 12/13. Go in gate, straight ahead, veer right, round RHS edge of round tower, past Republican Plot, grave is on LHS.
It is just in front of Eamon de Valera's grave. Other O'Mara family members nearby.
See street view.


Location of James O'Mara grave, Glasnevin.
Screenshot 2011. From street view. Click through to rotate.



James O'Mara grave, Glasnevin. Photo 2006.
See full size and alternative shot.
Note grave of Eamon de Valera in background.
Photos courtesy of Richard Humphreys.





James O'Mara Papers

James O'Mara Papers in [NLI]. Deposited by Patricia Lavelle 1957.





The First Dail




Children of James O'Mara







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