Peter O’Connor, born in 1803, was one of Sligo‘s most successful and wealthiest merchants in the mid-nineteenth century, and was a direct descendant of the famous Sligo O’Connor clan.
Peter O’Connor was the youngest son of Denis O’Connor of Edenbawn.
Peter, took over the family business concerns of merchant, ship-owner and importer after the death of his older brother Patrick to Cholera in 1832, he was also the owner of over 4800 acres in county Sligo in the 1870s.
Peter O’Connor also served on the grand jury and was “the personification of justice” in his duties as a magistrate.
Peter O’Connor married Ellen daughter of Timothy O’Connor of Sligo in 1848, they had one child, a daughter named Mary Ellen who died in 1872 aged just 21 years old.
Amongst Peter O’Connor‘s many business enterprises was the Sligo Saw Mills which was situated on extensive lands where the Bus Eireann garage now stands.
Described as one of the finest mills in the British Kingdom (as Ireland was then under British rule) in which there was no expense spared, to the extent that Peter O’Connor built, at his own expense, a row of small terraced houses in George’s Street, now known as Lord Edward Street, for his employees to live, just across the road from their workplace.
Throughout his life, Peter O’Connor was a very generous benefactor of the poor and needy. He was also a devout catholic and made generous donations to the building fund of Sligo‘s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, including the donation of the nine bells in the Cathedral tower, along with the clock and the high altar.
Peter O’Connor lived at Cairnsfoot House, which was built in the 1830s by the Cooper family of Markree Castle.
It was a Georgian style, three-bay, two-storey square block house with a hipped roof and pedimented front porch which stood on rising ground on Cranmore Lane behind the present day Lidl supermarket in the Doorly Park area.
Cairnsfoot House was sadly set on fire by vandals in 2004 and had to be demolished.
Peter died on August 29th 1893 at the age of 91 years old and is buried in a vault in Sligo Cemetery with his wife Ellen, his daughter Mary Ellen and Alicia Carroll who was governess and companion to his daughter. C
There is an old story that Peter‘s daughter Mary Ellen, who died in 1872, was interred in a glass coffin in the families mausoleum, and that peter O’Connor would visit the cemetery each evening after closing time, and be admitted by the caretaker, so that he could prey and spend some precious time in private with his beloved daughter.