Daniel O'Connell Statue

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The Daniel O'Connell Statue in Limerick

Introduction

This wiki article is about Daniel O'Connel and the significance of his statue in Limerick City. This is an assignment for our university module [http://wiki.csisdmz.ul.ie/wiki/CS4031_Introduction_to_Digital_Media_2013

Who was Daniel O'Connell?

Daniel O'Connell 1775-1847. Also known as "The Emancipator", "The Liberator" and "The defender of Ireland".
Sign to Daniel O'Connell's birthplace, Carhan.
Derrynane House, the ancestral home of "The Liberator", Daniel O'Connell. In Derrynane, County Kerry.

Early Years

Daniel O'Connell was born on the 6th of August 1775 in Carhan, near Cahersiveen in County Kerry, Ireland. He was the eldest of ten children. His father Morgan was a general store owner, farmer and also a business man. His mother Catherine was the daughter of a Catholic landlord in Mallow, County Cork. Daniel O'Connell spent the first fifteen years of his life in West Kerry and it proved to have a huge impact on him. He had a deep love for the beautiful country and often returned to his roots later on in life for the relaxation. His forebears were of those Gaelic and Catholic landowning families who had survived the turmoil and confiscation of property.

Education and political beliefs

He was well educated and studied in London, France and Dublin. He studied in London between 1794 and 1796 and this was a period of self-education. It is important to note that it was during this epoch when his basic political beliefs and outlooks were formed. An admirable trait about Daniel O'Connell was that he did not believe in using violence for liberty. He stated in his journal in December 1796 that "The alter of liberty totters when it is cemented only with blood". His main ambition was to be a leading figure in the struggle for liberty of mankind. When he returned to Dublin he attended debates in Irish Parliament and he wanted to become a member.

Unreasonable violence and patriotism

Daniel O'Connell wanted "to avoid the profligacy of corruption and the violence of unreasonable patriotism". He believed that real freedom for the people had to be acquired "gradually, by moral means, rather than suddenly or violently". He was worried by the possibility of revolution by the United Irishmen or invasion by the French. He proclaimed: "A revolution would not produce the happiness of the Irish nation" (In his journal, 4th March 1797).


The Act of Union 1800 and The Catholic Emancipation

Daniel O'Connell is most famously known for the success he had in driving the Catholic Emancipation. He is commonly known as "The Emancipator". After the 1800 Act of Union that bound Ireland and Great Britain, Catholic Emancipation meant the ending to the parliamentary oath which declared the Catholic region as "superstitious" and "idolatrous". This oath oppressed the Catholics and prevented them from becoming MPs in parliament. Daniel O'Connell partook in many political activities in the hope of achieving Catholic Emancipation. In 1804, he became a member of the committee to prepare for Catholic petition to parliament. He was even prepared to travel to London with the petition and cover the legal costs himself. Unfortunately, and to his disappointment, the petition was rejected by Lords and Commons in 1805. Later on in 1823, he founded the Catholic Association. He was elected MP for Clare in 1828 and refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to Britain. Catholic Emancipation was finally granted in 1829 under the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. This allowed Daniel O'Connell to take a seat in parliament in 1830. He also fought for the repeal of the Act of Union and his meetings drew thousands of people. Therefore, they were banned for fear of armed insurrection and he was jailed for sedition.

Daniel O'Connell's crypt in Glasvnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Death and Legacy

After serving three months in prison, Daniel O'Connell's health was greatly affected and not for the better. In the hope of improving his health and achieving some spiritual consolation, he set out for Rome. However, he only reached Genoa and he died there from cerebral softening (softening of the brain) at the age of 71 on 15 May 1847. His last wish was for his heart to be buried in Rome and his body in Ireland: "My body to Ireland, my heart to Rome, my soul to God." In accordance with this last wish his heart was embalmed and placed in a silver casket and put in the chapel of San Agata dei Goti in Rome. His body was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. His heart may have been buried in Rome but Daniel O'Connell remains in the hearts of all Irish people.

The significance of the Daniel O'Connell statue

The reason for Daniel O’Connell's appearance on O’Connell Street in Limerick is due to his participation in the campaigning for the Catholic Emancipation. This included the rights for Catholics to sit in Westminster Parliament which, before Daniel O’Connell, was denied for over 100 years. After O'Connell’s extraordinary life came to an end in 1847, the Limerick County Council decided to make a statue in his honour to commemorate his life and the accomplishments he fulfilled. It was designed by the Limerick Committee for the O'Connell Testimonial in 1856 and unveiled on the 15th August 1857. Even though the main street in Limerick is named after Daniel O’Connell there are many other famous streets named after him including in Ireland's capital city Dublin.

Where is the statue situated?

Location of Daniel O'Connell's statue in Limerick on Google Maps.

The Daniel O'Connell statue is located at the top of O'Connell Street. O'Connell Street was formerly known as Georges Street before it was renamed in honor of Daniel O'Connell. O'Connell Street is the main street in Limerick and is approximately a mile in length , stretching between Arthur's Quay and The Crescent. The Daniel O'Connell monument is situated in the centre of The Crescent overlooking O'Connell Street. This location was chosen by the mayor of Limerick and the O'Connell Monument Committee as it was the highest and widest point in Georges Street and is in the centre of Limerick city. The Crescent is known for its Georgian architecture such as The Church of the Sacred Heart which is located adjacent to the Daniel O'Connell statue, beside the Limerick Tutorial College. The prominent location of the statue means it is easily viewed as it is in the heart of Limerick city.

When was it put there?

Daniel O'Connell Statue on O'Connell Street
The "sprinklers" recently installed in the fountain

The free standing bronze figurative sculpture of Daniel O'Connell was designed in 1856 and unveiled in 1857. After 155 years of being mounted in The Crescent, the city's historic Daniel O' Connell monument had a "face lift", so to speak. Limerick City Councils environment department invested some 12,000 euro on improving the monument, fountain and surrounding flower beds. For the first time, sprinklers were installed in the fountain, which is now also lit up at night in an underwater system. As part of the works, the fountain was cleaned extensively, and new paving was laid. The underwater lighting also has a colour filter system, meaning that on key events, such as during Munster rugby games, the monument will be erected in red lighting, or in green for the Limerick matches.

Statuephoto.jpg

References

O'Ferrall, Fergus. Daniel O'Connell. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Ltd, 1981. Print.

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