He was born in Newport, Ireland, and died on January 25 this year in Nenagh General hospital in County Tipperary.
He attended the prestigious school Blackrock College in Dublin, but did not like being told when and what to do, so he left early and with some help from an uncle went travelling. On his return he lived for a while with his father in a house in Palmerston Road, Dublin, which had once been owned by a Taoiseach. In his 20s he became the best friend of Richard Harris, who James persuaded to join a local drama group before he became the very well-known actor, famed for his rampageous lifestyle.
O’Connor went on to work as a scriptwriter in Hollywood, where he formed a film company with Tom Hayes and co-produced Circle of Genius.
For several years he worked on a script which sadly remains unfinished. In 1961 he entered perhaps the happiest period of his life when he partnered Edward Wolfe, the well-respected South African painter, with whom he lived happily until Wolfe died 21 years later.
Typical of O’Connor, he inherited Wolfe’s paintings estate and sold the lot, before then spending many years trying to buy most of the paintings back. He worked closely with the art dealer Odette Gilbert holding exhibitions of paintings mostly by Wolfe, but also a major exhibition of Mary Fedden’s work.
O’Connor set up a close working relationship with Derek Rothera and Brian Thompson at the Millinery Works, both of whom also knew Wolfe well.
O’Connor spent the last part of his life living in a house known locally in Castlelough, Tipperary, as the ‘Up Turned Boat’, an unusual building designed by him which had views right up Lough Derg to Portumna.
He enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of his home reading and writing. O’Connor made a strong impression on many people with his wit, kindness and knowledge and will be greatly missed.
From Jonathan Riley