DESCENDANTS of the Liberator returned to the ancestral home yesterday for a family funeral.
Born in Essex, Mrs O'Connell spent most of her life in London. However, she was introduced to Derrynane by her late husband Dr Daniel O'Connell in the 1950s, and she became a regular visitor to the area.
In accordance with her wishes, half of Mrs O'Connell's ashes were carried in a coffin to the island graveyard for burial yesterday while the other half were scattered on the River Thames in London.
Her son, also Daniel, told the Irish Independent that Derrynane still had huge significance for the family even though they were now scattered all over the UK.
"Our children have been christened here and my cousin Danielle got married here last September," Mr O'Connell said.
Now in state ownership and managed by the Office of Public Works, access to the chapel is limited -- but is always open to the O'Connell family.
Yesterday, in the age-old practice, the funeral cortege carried the remains across the beach at low tide to access the island.
Despite the family tradition, the Liberator himself was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery after his death in 1847, while his heart was buried in Rome. He had famously campaigned for Catholic Emancipation and for the repeal of the Act of Union.
"I wish there were more Daniel O'Connells around at the moment. He had more leadership in his little finger than the rest of them have put together," his great-great-great-grandson Mr O'Connell added
"If we were only half the man he was, we'd be doing all right."