Sunday 11 December 2016

Reviving and revering the memory of our Great Liberator

Hugh O'Flaherty

Published 25/08/2015 | 02:30

Daniel O'Connell, in the famed 1838 portrait by Sir David Wilkie
Daniel O'Connell, in the famed 1838 portrait by Sir David Wilkie

This coming Friday and Saturday, the O’Connell School will take place in Cahersiveen and Derrynane. Daniel O’Connell is fortunate in that there have been two major biographies in recent years by Professors Oliver MacDonough and Patrick Geoghegan.

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Prior to that there was Sean O’Faolain’s magnificent ‘King of the Beggars’. There are numerous other works as well as Dan’s correspondence extending over many volumes and assembled by his kinsman, Maurice O’Connell. Nevertheless, the school will have a chance to preserve and revive the memory of the founding father of our democracy.

O’Connell was ahead of his time in many respects. He was, of course, the chief architect of Catholic emancipation: he was in favour of Jewish freedom too, and of freedom for the practice of all religions. He was a committed European – long before the disasters of two dreadful world wars. He was for the rights of women and against slavery.

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