Daniel O’Connell Commemoration

Daniel O'Connell

 This afternoon, Helen Brooker of Pretani Associates and I attended the annual Daniel  O’Connell Commemoration in Dublin. Minister Jimmy Deenihan T.D.  gave the Annual O’Connell Lecture in the presence of living relatives of the great man

Sunday, 17th May 2015 

Glasnevin Cemetery 

Arrival at Glasnevin Cemetery at 12 noon approx. 

Officiants ushered into position.

Offical wreath laying ceremony commences at 12.30 pm 

Running Order:- 

            Welcome by Chairman of Glasnevin Trust            John Green  Glasnevin Trust  

            Prayer – Nominee of Archbishop of Dublin

            Monsignor Paul  Callan, Archbishop House  

            Music – Piper Lament Dublin Fire Brigade                                     Shay O’ Rourke 


            Reading – Representative O’ Connell Schools                                Gary Gannon and Dominik Michalik. 


The Laying of Wreaths:- 

Lord Mayor of Dublin  Christy Burke

Government Representative  Minster Jimmy Deenihan T.D. 

Mayor of Co. Kerry John Brassil, Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council 

Minute’s Silence. 

Music Piper

Close – Guests adjourn to Pavilion for annual O’Connell Lecture, followed by Tea/Refreshments. 

Lecture :

“The relationship between Daniel O’ Connell and the Duke of Wellington  delivered by :Minister Jimmy Deenihan, T.D.

Daniel O’Connell – The Liberator. 

Not only was Daniel O’Connell, a son of an ancient Kerry family, a noted barrister, a former Lord Mayor of Dublin; he was the foremost constitutional parliamentarian of his age. His mass peaceful mobilisation of the Irish people into the parliamentary process, resulting in Catholic Emancipation, was a template followed by many in later years. Not only was he a Liberator to his own people , he was a leading figure in the development of democracy and human rights in Europe and it is appropriate that this commemoration takes place on Europe Day. His commitment to the democratic process was best explained when in The Nation newspaper on the 18th November 1843 he wrote:

“The principle of my political life …. is, that all ameliorations and improvements in political institutions can be obtained by persevering in a perfectly peaceable and legal course, and cannot be obtained by forcible means, or if they could be got by forcible means, such means create more evils than they cure, and leave the country worse than when they found it”

While time may have distanced us from the impact he had on his age, his importance can be judged from those whom he influenced.  William Gladstone for instance described him as “the greatest popular leader the world has ever seen.” Balzac said “I would like to have met three men only in this century: Napoleon, , Cuvier and O’Connell.” These few words testify in their fashion to the extraordinary impact left by O’Connell on European thought. William Grenville wrote that ” history will speak of him as one of the most remarkable men who ever lived.” Frederick Douglas wrote that “No transatlantic statesman bore a testimony more marked and telling against the curse of slavery than did Daniel O’Connell”.

However perhaps the most eloquent comment on his life came from an obsure Gaelic Poet, Seamus Mac Cuirtin from Clare who when hearing of O’Connell’s death wrote: 

Ó Conaill cáidh an flaith gan bhéim

Ad startha fíor do fuair árd réim

Fíraon Fodhla bhuaigh gach clú

Gan chréacht gan chosgar, gan fuiliú.


The gentle O’Connell, the peerless leader,

Who achieved the highest renown,

A good man of Ireland who won every honour

Without a wound, without destruction, without spilling blood.

                                                                        O’Connell and Wellington           

Daniel O’Connell and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, are among the most famous Irish figures of the 19th Century and both left remarkable legacies.  They were from very different backgrounds, Wellington from the Protestant Anglo-Irish Ascendancy and O’Connell from the dispossessed Catholic Gaelic nobility.  Despite this they came face to face with each other in dealing with big political issues of their time, through the remarkable lives that they led.

Wellington rose to prominence on the battlefields of Europe, most notably through his victory at Waterloo, and went on to a long political career at Westminster.  O’Connell fought on the political battlefields of Ireland, where he worked for Catholic and Irish rights and internationally became one of the founding fathers of the Christian Democratic movement and a tireless anti-slavery advocate.

As O’Connell pushed the issue of Catholic Emancipation in Westminster and at home, Wellington responded.  Although ostensibly anti-Catholic, he had long been considering how Catholic claims might be met.  Now, as Prime Minister, Wellington knew what needed to be done.  There can be little doubt that Wellington’s knowledge of Ireland played a part in ensuring Catholic Emancipation, with O’Connell ever present and pushing. Publicly there was little sign of common ground between the two men, particularly when it came to the question of the Repeal of the Union, but at times there were objectives on which they could work together.

Each graced his field of endeavour with genius.  When their paths crossed on the issue of Catholic Emancipation, there was to be but one outcome. 

No wonder George IV commented Wellington is the King of England, O’Connell is King of Ireland, and I am only the Dean of Windsor

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