Best Irish FactsFacts on Ireland and the Irish

Daniel O'Connell


Daniel O'ConnellDaniel O’Connell was born on 6 August 1775.

He was born at Derrynane Abbey near Caherciveen, Co. Kerry.

He was educated in France and London.

He studied for the bar at Lincoln’s Inns in London and at King’s Inns in Dublin.

He was called to the bar in 1798.

He campaigned for Catholic Emancipation.

In 1815 he was challenged to a duel by a member of Dublin Corporation.

The member, John D'Esterre, took offence at O'Connell's reference to Dublin Corporation as a "beggarly corporation".

The duel took place in Oughterard, Co. Kildare on 1 February, 1815.

He shot John D'Esterre who subsequently died of his wound.

He founded the Catholic Association in 1823.

The Catholic Association was open to anyone who could pay a subscription of 1d (one penny) per month.

The subscription of one penny became known as the Catholic Rent.

By 1829 this subscription had raised £52,000.

This made the Catholic Association the largest political organisation in Europe.

He stood for the by-election to the British House of Commons for Co. Clare in 1828.

He was elected.

He could not take his seat as Catholics were not allowed to sit in Parliament.

The British government feared that this could lead to another uprising in Ireland and convinced George IV of the need for Catholic Emancipation.

The Emancipation Act became law in 1829 but it was not retrospective.

This meant that O’Connell could still not take his seat unless re-elected.

He was re-elected unopposed on 30 July, 1829 and took his seat in the House of Commons.

After Catholic Emancipation he began a campaign to repeal the Act of Union.

The public meetings for the campaign regularly attracted 100,000 people and were known as “Monster Meetings”.

The biggest of these meetings was held at Tara in Co. Meath.

In 1841 he became the first Catholic Lord Mayor of Dublin since the reign of James II.

On 15 May, 1847 while on a pilgrimage to Rome, he died of softening of the brain in Genoa, Italy at the age of 71.

In line with his wishes his heart was buried in Rome and his body was brought back to Ireland.

He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

In Ireland he is known as "The Liberator".

Many streets in Ireland bear his name, most notably Dublin's main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street.

At the southern end of O'Connell Street, O'Connell Bridge crosses the River Liffey.

His statue on O'Connell Street bears the marks and bulletholes of the Easter Rising of 1916.

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