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Famous People

There’s no doubt that we O’Rourke’s have had a great impact on the world having been part of some historic occasions down through the centuries – here’s a look at some of the famous (and infamous!) O’Rourke’s who have graced the world their presence.

Prince Joseph O Rourke:
One of the most respected dynasties of 19th Century Russia was that of Joseph K O Rourke, whose military know how helped to defeat Napoleon in 1812.  Born in 1772 in Estonia, Joseph was the son of Irish exile Capt Cornelius O Rourke.  Joseph was a young man when he began his career with the Russian Imperial Army and was leading his own troop of men in 1812 at the time of Napoleons Russian campaign.  He eventually became commander in chief of the Russian army with two of his brothers, Cornelius Jr. and Maurice in his troop.  At the time of his death in 1849 all of his sons were following in his footsteps with distinguished military careers of their own.
Colonel Count John O Rourke:
John O Rourke (c1705 – 1786) was born in a village in Co Leitrim close to the ancient castle of Woodfort.  At the age of 25 he went to London with little success.  In the first troop of Horse guards he received the rudiment of arms, however as a Roman Catholic he was forced to resign.  After this he went on to France where he presented himself to the King declaring his princely roots.  In 1758 he was made Captain of the Royal Scotch.  He gained recognition and respect when he fought 4 duels over a few days.  His respect was gained by both his gallant behaviour on the field but also for his honesty in admitting that he thought it an injury to those he was fighting that they were being fought by a foreigner as opposed to French man.  From here he went on to Russia where again he distinguished himself over the course of war.  At the end of his time in Russia he returned to France with high recommendations from Peter the third and General de Sonverow.  In 1770 he was appointed a colonel of horse and enrolled among nobility by the French king.  He died in 1786.
James Henry O Rourke:
“Orator Jim” O Rourke was born in Connecticut in 1850.  Jim was a professional American baseball player who debuted on April 26th 1872 for the Middleton Mansfields.  O Rourke was the child of Irish immigrants and graduated from Yale law school while starting out in baseball.  On signing for the Boston Red Sox in 1873, legend tells us that the protestant owners requested that O Rourke drop the ‘O’ from the start of his name.  O Rourke responded, “I would rather die than give up my fathers name.  A million dollars would not tempt me.”  He played for the New York Giants between 1885 and 1904.  At the age of 54 he became the oldest ever to appear in the National league.  He died of pneumonia at the age of 68 on January 8 1919 and was elected to the baseball hall of fame in 1945.
Edmund O Rourke:
Edmund O Rourke was born in Dublin in 1813.  O Rourke would become an important player on the Victorian stage.  O Rourke did not achieve fame until in his 40’s at which time he changed his name to Edmund Falconer.  His talent was recognized when on one night in 1854 in Liverpool in the Adelphi Theater he performed in both Hamlet and a contemporary comedy called ‘Three Fingered Jack’.  Falconer wrote verse, drama and also two librettos – ‘The Rose castle’ and ‘Santenella’.  In 1861 Falconer turned his attention to theater management when he began managing The Lyceum in London.  He used this position to his advantage by staging many of his own plays including ‘Peep o Day’, ‘Woman, love against the world’ and ‘The extremes’.  Falconer enjoyed 3 years of huge success in America where he continued to write and also acted on Broadway.  Such was his success that many of his plays went through several editions.  One his biggest fans in the US was Mark Twain.
Edmund ‘Falconer’ O Rourke died in Russell square in 1879 at the age of 66.  The Manchester guardian revealed at this time that although he “had made what could be called a colossal fortune” out of plays like ‘Peep O Day’, “he died penniless”.  It is believed that his funeral was paid for by members of his gentlemen’s club, who also stepped up to help his young widow (who was his 3rd wife!).

Patrick Jake O Rourke:
Patrick Jake ‘PJ’ O Rourke was born in America in 1947.  He is a well-known political satirist, journalist and writer.  O Rourke joined the National Lampoon in 1973 where he received a writing credit for National Lampoon's Lemmings which helped launch the careers of John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest.  In the 1980’s O Rourke wrote freelance for many magazines including Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.  He became foreign affairs desk chief at Rolling Stone where he remained until 2001.  He is famous for his work but probably more so for his witty turn of phrase and quotations some of which include:
“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and power to Teenage boys” and “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it”.
Kevin O Rourke:
Kevin O Rourke was a popular New York fireman, one of many that lost his life in the World Trade Center attack on September 11th 2001.   Kevin was described after his death as “being one of the nicest gentlemen who worked in the New York City fire department”
Mike O Rourke:
Mike O Rourke (1862-1882) was a professional gambler in the Wild West who was well known for his skills as a poker player.  Also known as ‘Johnny behind the door’, Mike was often accused of cheating by his opponents, however they often recanted due to his reputation for being good with a gun.  In 1881 while playing in Charleston against Henry Schneider who he argued with, led O Rourke to pull his gun and kill his opponent.  He was arrested by Marshal George Mc Kelvey but ultimately saved from death by one Sheriff Wyatt Earp.  Earp helped O Rourke escape from the mob that was out to avenge for the death of Schneider.  He escorted him to a jail in Tucson from where O Rourke shortly escaped.  However a year later at the age of 20 O Rourke was involved in a similar altercation, which led to his death.
Mickey Rourke:
Mickey was born Philip Andre Rourke on 16th September 1952 in New York to a family of Irish and French descent.  During his teenage years he focused his attention on sports and from 1964 to 1971 he was an amateur boxer during which period he had a record of 27 wins – 17 knockouts – and 3 losses.  In the early 1980’s he started to turn his focus on serious acting with critically acclaimed roles in movies such as ‘Diner’ and ‘Rumble Fish’.  His role in erotic thriller ‘9 ½ weeks’ earned him “sex symbol” status.
O Rourkes acting career soon became overshadowed by his personal life and career decisions with many directors refusing to work with him due to his difficult nature.  Mickey decided to return to the ring as a professional boxer in the early 1990’s.  He fought internationally in countries including Spain, Germany and Japan where he was undefeated in 8 fights.  Over his boxing career he had many injuries that resulted in the reconstructive facial surgeries for which Mickey has become infamous.  Mickey admitted in an interview in 2009 that he “had gone to the wrong guy” for his surgeries and that his features had been “left in a mess”.
In 2005 he returned to mainstream Hollywood acting in the movie ‘Sin City’ for which he received critical acclaim.  In 2008 he played the lead role in ‘The Wrestler’, a movie about a washed up wrestler.  For his portrayal in this role he received a BAFTA award, a Golden globe award and an Oscar nomination.  Before the Oscar ceremony O Rourke said that he didn’t rate his chances of winning the award as he had burned too many bridges in Hollywood over his career.   
The great Irish history ‘The Annals of the Four Masters”, refers to the O Rourkes as being “the proudest and most inflexible” of the entire Irish race.  Since the end of the Gaelic order of O Rourkes they have continued their proud history of serving.  They have found fame from Russia and France to Canada and the US.  They represent their family name in the world of art, military and sport.  They have served in every area of life as soldiers, teachers, and firefighters and continue to do the O Rourke name proud.  
Today there is a renewed interest in their history as the proud clan can celebrate over 1100 years of existence.