O'Rourke, Conn (Conor ) (d. 1579), Franciscan friar and martyr, was the son of Brian O'Rourke, lord of Breifne, and appears to have been born c.1549. He may have entered the Franciscan friary at Creevelea, near Dromahair, Co. Leitrim, an institution that had been founded by his grandfather, Eoghan O'Rourke (qv), in 1508. O'Rourke travelled to France from Sligo about 1576, and lodged in Paris at the expense of James fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (qv), the noted catholic leader then seeking support for a European intervention in Ireland. O'Rourke's sojourn in Paris may have been for educational purposes, or he may have been connected with fitz Maurice's intrigues. His stay ended when he accompanied Patrick O'Healy (qv), catholic bishop of Mayo, to Ireland in summer 1579. According to one source the two clerics sailed from Brittany and landed at Dingle before 18 July, by chance arriving at much the same place and time as fitz Maurice's invading force; but this account was probably fabricated by a catholic hagiographer, Thomas Bourchier, who wished to exonerate O'Healy of involvement in political activity and preserve his reputation as a martyr to religion alone. It is more likely that they joined fitz Maurice in Galicia and sailed with him from Spain to Ireland, landing at Smerwick harbour on 18 July.
On their arrival O'Healy and O'Rourke sought out Gerald fitz James Fitzgerald, 15th earl of Desmond (qv) (d. 1583), perhaps at the earl's castle at Askeaton, Co. Limerick. Desmond's countess, Eleanor Butler (qv), entertained them for three days, after which they set off for Limerick city. They were arrested on the way, having been betrayed by either Desmond or Eleanor in an attempt to curry favour with the Dublin administration. O'Rourke and the bishop were imprisoned at Limerick, before they were taken to Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. O'Rourke was interrogated during his detention, and may have been tortured, as his companion was. They were condemned to death by Lord Justice Sir William Drury (qv) under martial law, and were hanged at Kilmallock between 10 and 22 August 1579. Their corpses were left hanging for a week before being taken down and buried on 27 August at Clonmel, Co. Tipperary; their remains were removed to the Franciscan house at Askeaton in 1647. O'Rourke and Bishop O'Healy were among the seventeen Irish martyrs beatified by Pope John Paul II in Rome on 27 September 1992.