Daniel O’Connell was born in Cahirsiveen, Co Kerry. He would go on to be one of the most important figures in Irish political and Catholic civil rights history. He campaigned for Catholic Emancipation – the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament, denied for over 100 years – and Repeal of the Union between Ireland and Great Britain. In 1829, the Roman Catholic Daniel O’Connell appeared in the House of Commons to take his seat as newly elected MP for Clare and refused to take the Oath of Supremacy which included “the sacrifice of the Mass, and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints, as now practiced in the Church of Rome, are impious and idolatrous;” and to deny the position of the Pope. O’Connell refused the oath stating “I decline, Mr. Clerk, to take this oath: part of it I know to be false; another part I believe not to be true.”
O’Connell was a rock star politician and fine orator who drew huge crowds. His actions and the concerns of the Prime Minister Duke of Wellington (born Dublin 1769) that continued refusal to provide the vote to Catholics would generate further unrest ensured the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act. O’Connell’s popularity apparently had King George IV complaining “‘O’Connell! God damn the scoundrel.’ Oh, the Duke of Wellington is king of England, O’Connell is king of Ireland and I suppose I am only considered as dean of Windsor’.
Daniel O’Connell originally won a by-election in Co Clare in 1828 defeating William Vesey Fitzgerald. but was not allowed to take his seat refusing to swear an Oath of Supremacy that was incompatible with his Catholic faith.
Photo: Daniel O’Connell Monument, O’Connell Street, Dublin, photo credit: David Soanes