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 O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Click for larger photo


Daniel O'Connell

Daniel O'Connell was born in 1775 near Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry, the son of a Catholic Landlord. He was adopted as heir by his rich uncle, Maurice 'Hunting-Cap' O'Connell, who provided for his education in Belgium and France. In 1793 the Catholic Relief Act threw open the legal profession to Catholics and O'Connell became a barrister. In court he displayed great natural ability as an orator.

Within ten years he became one of the best known advocates in the country. Popularly known as 'The Counsellor' he established himself as the champion of the ordinary Catholic. In October 1829 he retired from the Bar to become a full time politician. For the rest of his life he was supported by 'The O'Connell Tribute', a public collection.

In 1840 the Municipal Reform Act enabled Catholics to participate in local administration. O'Connell took on one of the greatest challenges in the political history of Ireland - the repeal of the Act of Union. He was elected as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1841, the first Catholic to hold the office since the 1680s.

Believing that Repeal would not be granted for some time, O'Connell focused on reform. He made his last speech in Parliament on 8 February 1847, pleading for relief for his fellow countrymen suffering from famine. On pilgrimage to Rome on 15 May that year he died in Genoa. His body was returned for burial in Glasnevin. Dublin's main street is named for him.


Daniel O'Connell. Click for larger photo




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