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Teaching in the Spirit of Socrates: Remembering Fergal O’Connor OP

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(The late Father Fergal O’Connor OP was born near Causeway, Co. Kerry, on 6 December 1926 and died in Dublin on 29 September 2005. Having studied at St. Mary's Tallaght, he was ordained a priest in 1951. He took the STD at the Angelicum in Rome in 1955 and then went on to take PPE at Oxford, staying at Blackfriars from 1956 to 1959. Having taught for a short time at the Dominican House at Cork, he was assigned to St. Saviour's Priory in Dublin in 1961, where he lived for the rest of his life. From 1962 he taught political philosophy at University College Dublin, continuing beyond retirement in 1991 to teach a course on Plato until 1997. A social critic and activist, he was for many years a provocative panelist on Ireland's foremost television programme, ‘The Late Late Show’, and wrote regularly for newspapers and periodicals; also he founded and for several decades directed Sherrard House, a hostel for homeless girls in Dublin, and ALLY, an organisation supporting single mothers. But it was as an extraordinarily inspiring teacher, primarily in the university but also in many other informal settings, that he was perhaps most deeply influential. The following is a slightly amended version of an article first published in Questioning Ireland, Debates in Political Philosophy and Public Policy (eds, J. Dunne, A. Ingram and F.Litton, Dublin, IPA), a Festschrift for Father O’Connor written by former students and colleagues (including the theologian, Denys Turner, and the political philosopher, Philip Pettit) and published in 2000.)

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