Boherbue Website

Pat O'Connor
The Clouting Celt from County Cork.

Pat O'Connor known locally as Paddy Jack Jim has been one of the most famous past pupils of Boherbue National School. He excelled at a sport "Boxing" not very common in the area, apart from the great faction fighting of days long since past. However, anybody who knows the sporting history of Duhallow, knows that the Barony has produced champions at many sports down through the years. Long may this great tradition continue.

Paddy was borne at Tureenavuscane, Kiskeam on March 17th, 1921. paddy jack jimHe was of farming stock, one of twelve children, six boys and six girls, borne to Jack Jim O'Connor and his wife Mary (nee Thornton). He attended Boherbue National School from 19/5/25 to 30/6/33. He displayed no great sporting talents while attending that Academy, the only talent he and indeed the rest of the family displayed was academic. To use the local vernacular - - they were right good scholars. Before he emigrated to England, he worked at home and with farmers in the locality. His sporting interests at that time centred around Gaelic football and he won a minor football medal with Boherbue in 1936.

His boxing career can be divided into three phases namely England, Ireland and America. In fact the England and the Ireland phases overlap. In 1939 he moved from Essex where he worked on a farm, to London where he joined an Irish Amateur Boxing Club in Romford. Here he took part in a good many bouts and was eventually entered for a middleweight competition in Hammersmith.

The contenders included firemen, soldiers and policemen. But he defeated the four men he was drawn against and won the competition and a silver cup that was valued at five guineas. Later on that year he won the Open Amateur middleweight championship at Chiswick. He won a further fourteen contests in England and Wales. He was now "hot property" and managers were queuing up to "sign on" this hard hitting Geal.

In 1940 at nineteen years of age Pat O'Connor joined the professional ranks and won his first professional contest by knockout in the second round. He moved to the Channel Island of Guernsey, where he defeated the reining middleweight champion.

His reputation in England was established in 1941 when he defeated the southern area title holder George Davis. He returned to Ireland, won several more bouts and was then matched against the then Irish middleweight champion Paddy Roche, another Corkman. The fight took place in Clonmel in 1942. At the end of fifteen thrilling rounds, Pat O'Connor was the new Irish middleweight champion. He remained undefeated middleweight champion until 1944 when he took the Irish cruiserweight title from Pat Mulcahy and he successfully defended it in 1945 against Spike McCormack in a terrific contest in Dublin.

Jimmy Ingle, in a tribute to Pat, on the occasion of his death, wrote and I quote "One night I shall always remember was February 17th. 1945, when Pat defeated John "Spike" McCormack at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, in defence of his Irish light-heavyweight title, "Spike" took an awful hammering in rounds nine and ten and he retired in the following round". He thus had the very rare distinction of holding two Irish titles at the same time.

One of his greatest fights in Britain was against Ernie Roderick, the British Empire middleweight champion whom he defeated in London in 1943. Defeating Tom Reddington further added to his reputation and he was now regarded as "the hardest hitting middleweight in the world" and chief contender for the middleweight title held by Jock McAvoy. But the champion Jock was not too anxious to meet the Duhallow man who regularly trained and sparred with Freddy Mills. Sadly this contest never took place. He was a great favourite at the Queensbury Club where he had thirteen bouts against the best in Britain including, Bert Gilroy, Jim Laverick, Ginger Sadd, Tommy Davis, Jake Kilrain and Vince Hawkins. He also fought Dick Turpin in Coventry.

In 1947 with almost 200 successes to his credit and on the advice of no lesser men than Ted "Kid" Lewis and Tommy Farr, he decided to go to America where his all action style of boxing would be appreciated. poc-dl-cocThere, he adapted new training methods under the management of Connie McCarthy and later under the legendary Kerryman John Kerry O'Donnell. He had 18 undefeated bouts across the USA. including one over Clem Fitzpatrick a leading contender for the world middleweight crown. The American Press hailed Paddy as a potential world champion but injuries prevented him meeting the great man himself Sugar Ray Robinson. He continued to fight until November 1st 1949 when defeated by Billy Brown, he retired and settled down with his wife Ann, a native of Keady, Co. Armagh, in San Francisco.
The above picture at Shannon Airport l to r Denis J Lenihan, Pat O'Connor, Charles M O'Connor

On a trip to his native parish in 1986, he was taken ill and died in the capital of his beloved barony, Duhallow -- Kanturk hospital. He is buried in his wife's county, Armagh, at a place called Tassagh. He was officially known as Pat O'Connor, in boxing circles he had many pseudo "box office" names e.g.. The Clouting Celt etc. but to the people of Boherbue, Kiskeam and that way back, he will be always known with affection as Paddy Jack Jim.

THE HOMECOMING February 27th, 1942.
On his triumphant arrival home from Clonmel, having won the Irish middleweight title, Pat got a rousing reception. A torch light procession and Cullen Pipers Band led him into Boherbue and there on the platform to greet him was the greatest Duhallow man of them all, Dromtariffe borne Hammer Thrower and two time Olympic champion at Los Angeles and Amsterdam, Dr. Pat O'Callaghan. As you can imagine, the atmosphere was electric in the village that night. Many a good man was K.O'd that night by those liquid knockout specialists Paddy Whiskey and Arthur Guinness. A specially prepared address of welcome was read and a poem composed in his honour by John McCarthy N.T. is still recited with pride in the Boherbue - Kiskeam area.

THE ADDRESS
On behalf of the people of your native Parish, we bid you a Céad Mile Fáilte. To night, we hail you with feelings of pride and joy, we greet you Pat O'Connor, Ar Laoch, the newly crowned champion of Éire, returning triumphant from Cluain Meala to the fringes of Sliabh Luachra. By winning the middleweight title from such a worthy opponent as famed Paddy Roche and fellow Corkman, you have retained the belt in the keeping of this our County Cork, the county beyond compare, of heroes in every field of athletics and in every phase of the fight for Irish Freedom.

Munster congratulates you! Cork is proud of you! Duhallow rejoices with you. But the supreme glory - the honour and fame that is yours, is ours also, here in Boherbue. You are our hero. "Ár gcuid mar fhear ar a bfhuil ar ngreann" Already you have won a place at the top of Duhallow's Roll of Honour. Henceforth, your name shall be associated with such all- Ireland champions - whose every nerve and sinew, bone and marrow, every fibre and muscle derived their superiority, their elasticity, their agility and their vigour from the sturdy race nurtured by the soil of Duhallow; the O'Callaghans, the Guiney's, the Sheehans, the Linehans. You, Pat are still in the Springtime of life; we know you will not rest on your laurels, but rather that you are determined to continue along the road of fame Excelsior up to the summit.

Having watched your steady progress in the Boxing Arena, your march from victory to victory,, your admirers everywhere, but especially here at home, shall be with you in spirit, encouraging and cheering you on to triumph over all who dare to challenge you Pat O'Connor, the fighting Irishman. And now A PHÁDRAIG CHÉAD - CHATHACH winner of one hundred battles, accept our congratulations, and our earnest hope is, that you may soon have the opportunity of being crowned with fresh and brighter laurels and off adding wider fame to your native parish. We sincerely pray, that in you Duhallow shall boast another World Champion, a champion who shall unsheathe his sword, wield his brawny arms only in defence of all that is good and noble, with the watch word of the Fianna as his battle cry in the Ring.

"Glaine in a chroi
Neart na Gheaga
As beart do réir a Bhriathra"

THE POEM
Pat O'Connor By John McCarthy, N.T.
Duhallow rejoices as our champion returns,
With a fresh crown of laurels bedecking his brow;
Now champion of Éire, brave Pat O'Connor
To you worthy champion, we pay homage now.

The hills are all blazing, it's Pat they are greeting,
The pipers are playing our old warlike airs;
How sounds the loud trumpet, as brave men are marching
All honours to Pádraig, who this Irish crown wears.

In the halls we are dancing and his praises all singing
Our hills all re-echo the shouts of the Geal,
For O'Connor the victor is home from Cluain Meala
Where he won his proud title for Dear Granuale.

In Erie and England Pat conquered the bravest
And climbed to the top with a leap and a bound
In one hundred ring battles he always was victor
He punched, fought and conquered and won round by round.

And there at Cluan Meala, with spirit undaunted
He fought and he won in his usual style
In a fifteen round tussle with Pat Roche the holder
Who greeted the victor with handshake and smile.

Then Duhallow cheers loudly for the cream of old Erin
Pat O'Connor the hero who hails from Boherbue
His name will be cherished with all our great heroes
Who love our dear land from the Boyne to the Lee.
We are most grateful to the following people for the text, graphics and information used here, without which this web page could not have been written: Denis J McCarthy and Louis McCarthy for the general text, Marie O'Gorman for the photographs, Paddy's sister Theresa, Sister Mary Josephine O'Connor and his cousins Eddie Thornton and Con Tarrant for the background information used.