This Gothic-Revival structure sits on Main Street in the small town of Cahersiveen in County Kerry.
Why O'Connell Church Is Unique
The O'Connell Memorial Church is the only church in Ireland built in honour of -- and named after -- a lay person, neither a saint nor a deity. Construction began in 1875, to commemorate the birth of Daniel O'Connell, who was born in Cahersiveen 100 years previously, and remains the town's most famous son. The church opened for its first mass in 1902.
Who Was Daniel O'Connell?
Known as the Liberator and the Emancipator, O'Connell is best remembered for working tirelessly and peacefully to bring about Catholic emancipation in Ireland. He fought for the rights of Irish Catholics to be represented in Parliament at London. He also tried to repeal the Act of Union, which combined Great Britain and Ireland. His strategy of using peaceful mass gatherings to bring about political change would later inspire other historical leaders, including Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Many streets and monuments throughout Ireland still bear his name, the most well-known being O'Connell Street in Dublin.
Designed by George C. Ashlin of Dublin, this structure boasts materials of black limestone, which is found locally, and Newry granite. The church has no tower or spire, and there is just a simple Celtic cross adorning its grounds. Pope Leo XIII approved the building and had a marble slab from the catacombs sent to be used as the cornerstone.
O'Connell Memorial Church Today
Mass is celebrated on a daily basis and the parish encourages unity among its parishioners, offering a variety of support groups, which are also popular here.