Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My ancestors - O'Mara - Contents

Stephen O'Mara, of Strand House

Stephen O'Mara.
See larger and full size.
From [P40/920]. Used with permission of [UL Archives].
See colour version. Posted here.

Stephen O'Mara,
Stephen Mary O'Mara, born 4 or 5 Jan 1884,
of Strand House, Limerick (his father's house).
See Wikipedia.
He was educ Christian Brothers, and Clongowes.
He is not at home in census 1901, must be at boarding school.
He went to USA for a time. He wrote from 134 Ash St, Ottumwa, Iowa, to his brother Fr. Paddy in Feb and June 1904. See letters in J/552/59. He says he is lonely in America. He doesn't get on with the men at work. He got into a physical fight at work.
Listed at Strand House with father in census 1911, listed as "Director" of bacon factory.
Went to Connie von Trapp's wedding, Austria, 1914.
He joined Sinn Fein after 1916 Rising.
Listed as bacon merchant, living Strand House, at marriage.

He mar 5 Feb 1918 to Nancy O'Brien [born 31 July 1895].
She was sister of the writer Kate O'Brien.
They mar at Limerick Cathedral [GROI].

When first married (after 1918) they lived in a house in Limerick they named after Toomevara, the O'Mara family's supposed ancestral home.
The only place we have the spelling of their house is P40/238, which has them using the Irish spelling, "Tuaim uí Meára", for the house.
The correct spelling of the village would be "Tuaim uí Mheára", but P40/238 has "Tuaim uí Meára".
Stephen was appointed member of Sinn Fein Standing Committee (or "Ard Chomhairle") for Dec 1918 general election.
P40/238 has a furniture listing for their house "Tuaim uí Meára" dated 1920. It seems clear they left the house in 1920 or 1921.
They moved (probably 1920) into his father's house, Strand House.

Mayor of Limerick, 22 Mar 1921 - Jan 1922 (elected for rest of his predecessor's year). See the Town Hall, Limerick.
He took over as Mayor of Limerick after his two predecessors were murdered by the Black and Tans on 7 Mar 1921. (Before them, the Mayor was his brother Phons.)
Stephen condemned the Black and Tans, and they targeted him.
"[Stephen] O'Mara too was a brave man, as a number of attempts had already been made on his life." [Hannan, 1997]
A special steel door was fitted upstairs in Strand House. Everyone slept behind it. He had "a bodyguard of picked men" [obituary]. It seems clear he was living at Strand House by 1921.
He was arrested by the British in Apr 1921 and imprisoned for one week in Limerick gaol.
See Apr 1921 interview of his father.
Trustee of Dail Eireann Funds: His brother Jim resigned as Trustee of Dail funds, May 1921. Stephen the younger (NOT his father) was appointed in 1921 to replace him as Trustee and also as fund-raiser in the US.
He raised funds in the US in 1921, as his brother had before him. He was the underground government's Special Envoy to the US.
He opposed the Treaty that was signed in Dec 1921 (taking a stand against his own brother, Jim). He was the only O'Mara who went anti-Treaty.
He and de Valera were now both Trustees of the money raised by Jim for the Irish Republic, and both anti-Treaty Republicans. They argued that the money should go to the Republican side. The other trustee, Bishop Fogarty, supported the new Free State government. [Lavelle, 1961] describes the dispute, which carried on into the Civil War and beyond.

Mayor of Limerick, Jan 1922 - Jan 1923 (second term). Re-elected Mayor Jan 1922, when he was led in triumph from his house to the Town Hall by the IRA.
The Limerick Crisis, Feb-March 1922: In Feb 1922, when British forces were leaving Limerick, pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty forces faced off over who would control the barracks being evacuated. The situation was very tense. The Mayor Stephen O'Mara negotiated a compromise on 11 Mar 1922 that avoided conflict breaking out for now. See [Corbett, 2008].
But Civil War broke out nationally in June 1922.
The Free State secured Limerick on 18 July 1922.
O'Mara was arrested at Roscrea on 9 Dec 1922. He was imprisoned by Free State. The family were very worried that he would be executed.

Mayor of Limerick, Jan 1923 - 1 Oct 1923 (partial third term). He was in prison at the start of this.
He was released March 1923.
Resigned as Mayor 1 Oct 1923 (or 4 Oct).
His biography in [Thom's Irish Who's Who, 1923] describes him as an "Alderman", and as "Managing Director" of "O'Mara, Ltd., Bacon Curers". In 1923 he is living at Strand House.
Strong supporter of Fianna Fail (founded 1926).

Stephen and Nancy had no children, decided to adopt.
Nancy was in London for medical treatment in Mar 1927. Stephen went home. She stayed for a while (her sisters were there) and visited adoption agency in London. Saw little boy (Peter, born Sept 1925), he ran over to her.
They adopted him. They baptised him on 19 March 1927.

They lived Strand House.
Stephen founded bacon factory in Claremorris, Co.Mayo, 1930.
Founded bacon factory in Letterkenny, Co.Donegal.
Member of the Government Commission on Vocational Organisation 1930s-40s.
Chairman of O'Mara's bacon company at time of O'Mara's centenary, 1939.
He was NOT a Senator (that was his father).

Stephen demolished Strand House c.1943. He said it was impossible to heat. His sister Mary was furious with him for demolishing it.
He built a second "Strand House" at the site in 1943 and lived there until his death. (This house is also now gone.)
Aodogán O'Rahilly remembered him sitting on the University Committee c.1957/58.
1958 article describes him as Chairman of O'Mara Bacon Factory.
Obituary describes him as Chairman of O'Mara Ltd and of the Claremorris and Donegal Bacon Companies.
Appointed to Council of State by President Eamon de Valera Oct 1959.

Stephen dies, 1959:
In 1959, the family moved out of the second Strand House. They moved to the next door house, Ivy Bank, Ennis Rd, Limerick.
Stephen organised the move, but died before moving in.
He died Mater Hospital, Dublin, Wed 11th Nov 1959, age 75 yrs.
See obituary in Limerick Leader, 11 Nov 1959.
Funeral Fri 13 Nov 1959, Gardiner St Church, Dublin (his brother's church), bur Mount St. Lawrence cemetery, Limerick.
See poem by Frank Gallagher, 1961, dedicated to Stephen. From J/552/71.

The O'Maras re-named Ivy Bank to "New Strand House".
Nancy died 11 Feb 1975, age 79 yrs.
She was bur Mount St. Lawrence cemetery, Limerick.
See draft of letter of condolence written by Michael Rynne to Peter, p.1 and p.2. From P133/2/18.
Stephen and Nancy had adopted issue:

  1. Peter O'Mara,
    Peter Joseph O'Mara.
    Adopted child.

    Peter's natural parents are unknown:
    There has been for many years a rumour that Peter was Kate O'Brien's child. For example this rumour was repeated in a talk on Kate O'Brien on RTE Radio, 3 Nov 1997.
    But the story is false. Peter was an abandoned baby found in London in 1925.
    Birth cert says he was born around early Sept 1925, location unknown, parents unknown, and "abandoned on 5 Oct 1925, aged about 4 weeks, at the children's day nursery, British Empire Exhibition, Wembley Park".
    Birth cert gives him the name "Peter Johnson", though it says identity of both parents is unknown. It is not clear whether he was given that name when he was placed in care or if it was attached to clothing etc. when he was abandoned.
    Baptism entry gives birth date of 8 Sept 1925, but this would be just an estimate (taking away exactly 28 days).
    He was baptised as "Peter Joseph O'Mara" on 19 Mar 1927 by the O'Maras, at Corpus Christi RC church, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London.
    Aug 1927 letter about the adoption agrees no one can know his exact birth date.

Stephen O'Mara, Apr 1918, age 34 yrs.
See copy printed on p.252 of The Clongownian, June 1922, vol ix no 3. And note on p.251. It gets his father's name wrong. From P133/4.

Stephen O'Mara.
Photo of the Directors of O'Mara's at O'Mara centenary dinner, 1939.
See larger and full size.

Stephen O'Mara and Nancy O'Brien.
See larger and full size.
From [P40/910]. Used with permission of [UL Archives].

Peter O'Mara and Nancy at front of Strand House, 1927.
See larger and full size.
See other picture.
From [P40/911]. Used with permission of [UL Archives].
See other picture (and back). From P133/2/20.

Stephen and Nancy and Peter (born 1925) and unnamed girl. Strand House.
See full size and back. From P133/2/20.

Nancy O'Brien and Mary Rynne. At front of Strand House.
See larger and full size.
From [P40/912]. Used with permission of [UL Archives].

Eamon de Valera with the O'Maras in July 1932.
(De Valera had won the Feb 1932 election and was now President.)
Standing: Unknown. Unknown. Unknown.
Seated left to right: Peter O'Mara, Eamon de Valera, think Nancy, Stephen O'Mara.
Location is back door of Strand House.
See full size.
See copy and other shot. From [P40/912]. Used with permission of [UL Archives].


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