Thomas P. O’Neill (Tip) 1912 – 1994


Thomas P. O’Neill Jnr known as Tip was speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1976 – 1987 has his roots firmly entrenched in Mallow. Mr O’Neill’s great-great-grandparents, Daniel O’Connell and Catherine Quinlan were married in Mallow on 6th August 1797. After her husband’s death in the 1820’s Catherine emigrated to America with some of her children. She remained there for nearly fifty years. In her 100th year she returned to her native Mallow, where she died at the great age of 103 years in or about the year 1870. She was buried next to her husband Daniel who had died 50 years earlier.

Johanna O’Connell daughter od Daniel and Catherine married John O’Neill in St Mary’s Church Mallow on Oct 30th 1822. These were Tip O’Neill’s great-grandparents. They lived in Gallows’ Lane known now as St. Josephs’ Road near Mallow Castle. Their son Patrick born in 1832 married Julia Fox another native of Mallow. Around 1845 Patrick and his brothers Michael and John emigrated to work as labourers in the New England Brick Co.

Patrick and Julia’s son, Thomas P. O’Neill married Rose Ann Tolan. They had three children the youngest of whom was Thomas P. Junior known throughout his life as Tip O’Neill. He was born on 9th December 1912 in Cambridge Massachusetts. He graduated from Boston College in 1936 with a B.A. degree. Tip married Mildred Anne Miller on 17th June 1941. They had five children. He began his political career when he was elected to the Massachusetts House of representatives in 1936. During his time in the Mass. House of Representatives he served as Minority Leader 1947-1948 and became the first Democrat to become Speaker of that house in 1948. In 1952 he was elected to the 83rd Congress succeeding John F. Kennedy who became Senator and later President. Mr O’Neill represented the 8th District of Massachusetts in the US House of Representatives for 16 consecutive terms! First appointed House Majority Whip in 1971, he served in that capacity during the 92nd Congress. In 1973 he was elected House Majority Leader and was made Speaker of The House in 1977 and he retired from that position in 1986.

In 1987 Mr. O’Neill visited Mallow and was awarded a Civic Reception which was held at Mallow Castle then owned by Michael and Judy McGinn. During the Cork 800 year celebrations in 1985 he was awarded The Freedom of Cork by members of Cork City Corporation. Tip O’Neill passed away on 6th January 1994. Later that year Senator Joe Sherlock, Chairman of Mallow Town Council unveiled a plaque in his honour in a park at the Spa Mallow and the park has been named The Tip O’Neill Park. Present for the unveiling of the plaque were his daughter Rosemary and the US Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith.