O'Hara, Charles (1746–1822), politician, was born 26 April 1746 at Nympsfield, Co. Sligo, eldest son of Charles O'Hara, landowner and later Irish MP, and his wife, Lady Mary Carmichael. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, he graduated BA (1767) and MA (1771). Entering Middle Temple in 1765, he was called to the Irish bar in 1770. With the death of his father (1776) he succeeded to the family estate of almost 30,000 acres at Annaghmore, Co. Sligo. Anxious to enter parliament, he was returned for Dungannon borough (1776–83), but he failed to make an immediate impact and was described as a ‘dull, tedious speaker’ (Hist. parl., v, 397). In 1782 he was chosen to represent Connacht at the Volunteer national convention in Dublin, and he was later appointed high sheriff of Co. Sligo (1785). His widespread popularity in the county ensured that he was elected for Co. Sligo in September 1783; he was returned in every subsequent election for the remainder of his life. On 23 January 1792 he presented the petition of the catholic committee before the house of commons at the request of his friend Richard Burke (1758–94), although he indicated that he did not support the measure personally. During the 1798 rebellion he returned to Sligo, where he captained a local militia unit. When Humbert (qv) and his French force landed in Connacht (22 August 1798), O'Hara led a reconnaissance party against them and fought in a skirmish at Tubbercurry.
The passing of the act of union (1800) was anathema to O'Hara and he opposed it in parliament. His speaking had improved by this time, at least in terms of the content of his speeches, and he attacked the measure in surprisingly clear and lucid terms. Retaining his seat in the united parliament, he continued to speak against the union and opposed the erection of a statue for the former lord lieutenant Cornwallis (qv) at St Paul's in 1806, because he had passed the union. Although he owned a large estate, it was heavily mortgaged because of his careless lifestyle, and O'Hara risked disqualification from parliament throughout his time at Westminster. He hid the problem as best he could, and in 1803 took a lead in directing the Sligo port improvement bill through the commons. In April 1806 he was appointed a commissioner of the Irish treasury, but was replaced with the change of ministry the following year. Voting with the opposition consistently in the years ahead, he only broke ranks on the question of catholic emancipation, which he refused to support. On 19 May 1813 he proposed a motion on Irish finance, claiming that the financial component of the union had crippled Ireland, but his speech was inaudible and the members ignored him. His health declined soon afterwards, and he did not vote after 1816. Refusing to vacate his seat, he died 12 September 1822.
He married (1780) Margaret Cookson; they had one son and three daughters. O'Hara compiled a survey of Co. Sligo that contains much useful agricultural and financial information. He had a shrewd grasp of economics (except in his private life, where he lived beyond his means), but despite his abilities made little impact in parliament.