This 17th Century estate was the ancestral home of Daniel O'Connell, the prominent Irish political figure known as The Liberator. The house, garden, and 320 acres of beautiful seaside parkland on the Ring of Kerry route combine to make up Derrynane National Park. The O'Connell family house now serves as a museum for The Liberator's many valuable historical artefacts.
Daniel O'Connell - The Liberator
Daniel O' Connell was born in a small cottage in nearby Cahirciveen to modest beginnings, and left his parents while still very young to live with his uncle, who was childless. The uncle, 'Hunting Cap' O'Connell, died in 1825 after making his fortune in smuggling deals with Spain and France. Upon his death, Daniel O'Connell inherited the estate. Subsequent members of the family occupied the house until 1958.
O'Connell was educated as an attorney, a profession dominated by Ireland's Protestant ascendancy. Throughout his career. he defended the rights of Catholics, who at the time were prosecuted for their beliefs. He founded the Catholic Association in 1823, and it grew to become a movement that movement struggled to achieve equal rights and religious tolerance for Catholics. He worked for increased religious tolerance, organizing events called 'Monster Rallies', protests that were peaceful in nature and ultimately effective.
O'Connell was elected as a Member of Parliament for County Clare in 1828, but because of the law banning Catholics from serving, he could not take his seat. His re -election the following year forced the British Parliament to overturn its anti-Catholic legislation in what is known as the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. This victory earned him the "Great Liberator" designation and cemented his place in Irish history for centuries to come.
Derrynane House Museum
Derrynane House was transformed into a museum and opened by the Irish State in 1967. It displays a wide collection of furniture and other items associated with this famous and revered Irish champion.
The House contains portraits, writings, and personal items that belonged to O'Connell, including the duelling pistols O'Connell used to kill his rival John D'Esterre in 1815 and the black glove he wore thereafter.
Also on display are many writings, portraits of family members, and the golden chariot that carried the Liberator through the streets of London upon his release from prison. The history-changing events of this great man's life have been chronicled and are displayed to visitors in a video presentation shown regularly at the museum.
Guided tours are available upon request along with an informative video about the grounds and O'Connell’s life is also offered. Open every day during the summer months, the House also offers a coffee shop and a joined chapel.
Image by Gabriela Avram
1836 portrait of O'Connell by Bernard Mulrenin. Image: Wikimedia