Portrait of Daniel O’Connell to hang in reopened Derrynane
Office of Public Works to present painting of Liberator to former O’Connell family home
Portrait of Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) by Sir David Wilkie. The Liberator championed human rights, particularly Catholic emancipation
A painting of Daniel O’Connell will be presented to the refurbished, former O’Connell family home Derrynane House, on the Ring of Kerry by Minister for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Simon Harris on Tuesday.
The house is already open to visitors after a €1.2 million refurbishment, but the presentation of the Great Liberator’s portrait is being made in advance of an official opening this June.
The house which is the most visited tourist attraction in the south Co Kerry area was the subject of controversy when the OPW initially proposed its closure for six months beginning in April, 2013 – the start of the busy Kerry tourist season. Former minister of State with responsibilty for the OPW Brian Hayes agreed to reschedule the work outside the summer season and extensive renovation and visitor improvements was carried out last year, with an official opening scheduled for June 9th this year.
Derrynane, the “Oakwood of St Fionán”, is situated on the tip of the Iveragh Peninsula in Co Kerry. It was the birthplace and childhood home of Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) who championed human rights at, particularly Catholic emancipation.
Derrynane was transferred to the State in 1964 and most of the old demesne of Derrynane is now included in Derrynane National Historic Park, an area of approximately 120 hectares, managed by the Office of Public Works.
The lands are rich in natural and cultural heritage and the house contains many artefacts associated with O’Connell and his family, including an outstanding family portrait collection and much original furniture.
The refurbishment focused on accessibility through a new visitor entrance and reception space with improved access to audio-visual room. A lift to an exhibition space, drawing room and library was also installed as well as a secure storage area for the collections and new access, external lighting and a new “exhibition concept” that presents the material in a more accessible way.
The house is now accessible to the disabled and has special facilities for the hard of hearing.
Speaking in advance of the handover of O’Connell’s portrait, Mr Harris said visitor numbers to heritage sites managed by the OPW reached 4.4 million last year, with further growth expected in 2015.
Among the top visited sites are the National Botanic Gardens, Farmleigh Estate, Castletown House and parklands and Kilkenny Castle.
The OPW has waived the entry fee for primary and secondary school student tours to all managed heritage sites. Mr Harris also confirmed the continuation of the “Free First Wednesday concession throughout 2015, whereby my office waives the entry fee to all OPW managed heritage sites on the first Wednesday of every month”.
Details are available on opw.ie