Paddy was born in 1943 in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland and grew up on the farm that has been in the family for generations. A talented student, he attended the National University of Ireland (Dublin) 1964-68, receiving a B.A. and a Higher Diploma in Education. After moving to Canada, he earned a B.Ed and post-graduate diploma from the University of Saskatchewan.
Paddy emigrated to Canada in 1968 to teach high school English in Rose Valley, Saskatchewan. He then taught at Swift Current Comprehensive High School, and then moved to Saskatoon in 1975 to teach at Evan Hardy Collegiate; prior to his retirement, he taught at Walter Murray Collegiate. He became a Canadian citizen and lived on his acreage south of Saskatoon, indulging his passion for horticulture, until his passing in 2017.
As an educator, he was an advisor and board member with various professional organizations including the Saskatchewan English Teachers’ Association, Canadian Council of Teachers of English, Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, and Saskatoon Board of Education. In the 1980s and ’90s, he presented papers and workshops throughout Saskatchewan on Canadian Literature in the Secondary High School Curriculum. He was a sessional lecturer at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, from 1975 to 1997.
A talented actor, Paddy performed in little theatre groups in Swift Current and Saskatoon, and was one of the four members and creative collaborators of Prairie Brew, a stage performance celebrating Prairie writers. In addition, he performed in audio drama productions for CJUS radio, and narrated the the film The New Canadians.
Many came to know Paddy through his role as shareholder and editor-in-chief of Thistledown Press, a national literary publisher based in Saskatoon. During this time, he participated in numerous meetings and activities related to the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, and other provincial and national arts organizations such as the Literary Press Group and Association of Canadian Publishers. He co-edited a series of anthologies: Dancing Visions (contemporary Canadian poetry); The Last Map is the Heart (contemporary western Canadian fiction); Coming of Age: Fictions for a New Century (international fiction); Something to Declare: An Anthology of International Literature for Secondary Schools, Oxford University Press; and Contents Three.
After retiring from teaching, Paddy was instrumental in establishing professional development programs and relationships with post-secondary institutions in the UK, on behalf of England’s largest privately-held construction company, Laing O’Rourke.
Those who knew Paddy admired him for his brilliant mind, passion for the arts, and commitment – both within the classroom and beyond – to the education of our youth. The Paddy O’Rourke Poetry Scholarship honours his achievements and dedication, in the hope that his life will be an inspiration for generations to come.