Among the many Irish families in Pittsburgh, the O’Connors are one of the most well-known. The late Bob O’Connor served as city councilman and mayor and his son, Corey, is currently a member of Council, representing District 5. Corey says celebrating their Irish heritage is an essential part of being an O’Connor. He recounted his family’s story and modern commemoration of their culture for Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.
The O’Connor family first moved to America during the early 1900s. At first, Corey said the family had a hard time adjusting to American life. Despite speaking English, the language barrier turned out to be a challenge, as their accents were strong.
Shortly after arriving in Greenfield, the O’Connors found their calling in cars. Corey recalled going to his Uncle Buddy’s races on the weekends.
Buddy became something of a local hero in Greenfield. His connection to the community was of great benefit for Bob O’Connor’s eventual political career.
“When a family grows up, and the roots are all in one neighborhood, they meet so many people, and I think that was a benefit to when my dad jumped into politics,” O’Connor said. “He had already known most people in Greenfield, and they had grown up together.”
While serving as the city’s mayor, Corey said one of his father’s favorite activities was walking in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Each year, the whole O’Connor family would get together and march, no matter what the conditions.
“We never missed a parade when he was elected,” O’Connor said. “Even in the blizzard of ’93, I remember we were out in the parade.”
While he was in office, Bob O’Connor’s slogan was always, “The number one priority is the people of Pittsburgh.” Corey says he also tries to live by that saying and continue his father’s legacy.
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