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‘Blue plaque’ to be unveiled in honour of celebrated Armagh writer John O’Connor

Armagh writer John O’Connor is to be honoured with the unveiling of a blue plaque at his childhood home.

The Ulster History Circle will bestow this ultimate accolade during the first ever writing school named in his memory.

The unveiling is due to take place this Thursday, November 3, at noon, at 94 St Columba’s Terrace, Banbrook Hill, Armagh.

Following a short address by renowned Irish poet Paul Muldoon, the plaque will be unveiled by the Lord Mayor Garath Keating.

The unveiling will be followed by a reception including music from Armagh Pipers Club, poetry, reading and refreshments in the Cardinal O’Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive, Moy Road, Armagh.

John O’Connor was born in Mill Row, Armagh in 1920, and was 12 years of age when the family moved to Banbrook Hill.

A contributor to local newspapers from an early age, he went on to publish many short stories, several documentary programmes for the BBC and, in 1948, a novel Come Day – Go Day.

Based on his experiences of his local community, the novel has been described as “a marvellous little book that could be classed among the minor masterpieces”.

The novel was re-published in 1984, with Sam Hanna Bell asserting that the claim of his admirers “to be considered one of the most talented and delightful of our writers is as substantial as the cathedrals above his native city”.

In 1952, O’Connor left Armagh for Queensland, Australia and died in New Guinea in December 1959; his death was certified as due to “shock and toxemia untreated”  and a perforated, chronic duodenal ulcer.

He was buried in Townsville Cemetery on Christmas Eve 1959.

Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle, said: “The Ulster History Circle is delighted to honour this talented and popular writer and we would like to thank Armagh and District History Group and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for their financial support towards the plaque.”

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