Guest Post: Patrick O’Connell -The Celt who saved Barca


Posted By kevingraham

Posted in Articles, Guest Appearance


My name is Fergus Dowd I’m chairperson of the Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund.


I thought this might be of interest to the this website as Patrick is a former Belfast Celtic player.


Patrick was the first Irishman to captain Manchester United FC and managed Real Betis FC  to the La Liga football championship in Spain in 1935 their only title.

Mr. O’Connell was captain of the Irish team who won the British Home Championship in 1913/14 Ireland’s first football title.


Patrick began his professional football career at Belfast Celtic FC and went on to manage FC Barcelona during the Spanish Civil war from 1935 to 1940.


He won a host of titles at Barcelona but is famously known for taking Barcelona on a tour of Mexico & USA in 1937 after their president Josep Sunyol was assassinated by Francoists and the club faced financial ruin.

The monies raised from the tour were wired back to an account in Paris and ultimately saved the club from extinction.



During this period Patrick and his team could only travel at night for fear of assassination.


Sadly for 56 years Patrick has been buried in an unmarked grave at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Kensal Green,London.


Patrick died destitute in London in 1959.

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Patrick a Dubliner was recently honoured by Dublin City Council with a plaque at the house he was reared in on Fitzroy Avenue,Drumcondra;this was the first of a new scheme.


Award winning Belfast artists Danny Devenney and Marty Lyons have painted a spectacular mural art piece sponsored by Crown Paints & Feile An Phobail; which will be unveiled by Lord Mayor of Belfast Mr. Arder Carson,Lisbon Lions Bertie Auld & John Clark & Brian Wilson Celtic Director among GAA & Rugby Representatives.


The unveiling will take place as part of Feile An Phobail an annual Belfast Festival at 4:30pm on the Falls Road, Belfast Friday, Aug 7th.


Following this Maureen O’Sullivan TD Dublin Central will chair a symposium with a host of sporting experts at the Devenish Complex,Finaghy,Belfast @ 7:30pm Aug 7th  a free event.


Dr. Joe Bradley a Celtic historian from Stirling Univ. will be attending.


Photos of Patrick’s unmarked grave,the mural,Patrick on the Barcelona bench and the plaque unveiling in June in Dublin which was also attended by Bertie Auld & John Clark alongside fellow Scots Martin Buchan and Steve Archibald are included in this blog.
Thanks for your time.



  1. Frank McGaaaaaarvey
    Posted July 30, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    What a story! And to think this guy died completely potless and forgotten having saved arguably the biggest football institution in the world (behind the Hoops of course). Compare that to some of the divas plying their trade these days who become millionaires before they reach the age of 21.

    This is a fitting tribute to a real legend. I wonder what Barca will do to remember?

  2. jd meatyard
    Posted July 31, 2015 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    What a story, stuff of legend, everybody should know this. Celtic/ Barca have the $$$ to get the guy’s remains sorted.

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