Daniel O’Connell’s house reopens to the public

The Liberator’s home in Derrynane underwent €1.25 million refurbishment by OPW

Derrynane House, home of Daniel O’Connell. The house has reopened to the public following a major refurbishment by the Office of Public Works.   Photograph: Don MacMonagle

Derrynane House, home of Daniel O’Connell. The house has reopened to the public following a major refurbishment by the Office of Public Works. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

 

The home of Daniel O’Connell in Derrynane on the Ring of Kerry has been officially opened to the public following a €1.25 million refurbishment by the Office of Public Works.

O’Connell - often called The Liberator - was born in 1775 some kilometres northeast of Derrynane, at Carhan on the outskirts of Cahersiveen.

He was educated in France, England and Dublin before spending ten years practising as a barrister on the Munster Circuit.

He entered politics and was elected MP for Clare, spearheading the campaign for voting and education rights for Catholics.

The primary education system established in 1831 that allowed each denomination to run its own schools and replaced hedge schools for Catholics was due to his efforts.

A colourful and theatrical character, he frequently sported a green velvet and gold cap and travelled by horse and coach to and from Derrynane.

While remembered worldwide for his championing of anti-slavery measures, pacifism and Catholic emancipation, nationalism and free speech, in Kerry O’Connell is also credited with the roads system that remains in place in the county.

O’Connell died in Genoa in Italy in 1847. His heart is buried in Rome.

Derrynane House

O’Connell inherited Derrynane House, on the edge of Derrynane Bay, from his uncle. It was here that he installed his beloved wife Mary and the couple’s eight children.

Derrynane House now has a museum and attracts 23,000 visitors a year, according to the OPW.

As well as artefacts to do with O’Connell’s personal life, it houses the magnificent chariot constructed by his supporters to draw him through the streets of Dublin upon his release from Richmond Penitentiary in 1844. He had been sent to the jail over his efforts to repeal the union with England.

The refurbishment, done by the Office of Public Works, includes a new visitor reception, lift, tea rooms, and exhibition equipment.

A portrait of O’Connell was also installed in the house.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, officially opened the refurbished building. He thanked the O’Connell family for the initial donation of the house and its artefacts to the State.

The ruins of O’Connell’s birthplace at Carhan are also being refurbished. Some €20,000 was granted to the project by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in 2013.