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Daniel O'Connell Biography
Daniel O'Connell (August 6, 1776 - May 15, 1847), known as The Liberator, was Ireland's predominant politician in the first half of the nineteenth century. A critic of violent insurrection in Ireland, he once said that the freedom of Ireland was not worth the spilling of one drop of blood. Instead he focused entirely on parliamentary and populist methods to force change.

Born to a wealthy Catholic family in County Kerry, O'Connell studied at Catholic schools in France and was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1794, transferring to Dublin's King's Inn two years later. In his early years, he became acquainted with the pro-democracy radicals of the time, and committed himself to bringing equal rights and religious tolerance to his own country. He joined the radical United Irishmen, who were seeking to transform Ireland in the same way that the French Revolution had transformed France.

In 1798, O'Connell became a barrister. That was the same year in which the United Irishmen staged their famous rebellion, which was put down by the British at Vinegar Hill. O'Connell did not support the rebellion: he believed that the Irish would have to assert themselves politically, rather than by force. So, for the next decade, he went into a fairly quiet period of private law practice in the south of Ireland.

O'Connell is famous for killing John D'Esterre in a duel in 1815: he had refused to pay a toll to cross a bridge that D'Esterre owned, and was challenged to fight as a result. After the duel, O'Connell vowed that he would never fight anyone again.

He returned to politics in the 1810s, campaigning for Catholic Emancipation, that is, the repeal of all anti-catholic legislation enforced in Ireland. As part of his campaign, he sought and won election to the House of Commons in 1828, even though as a catholic, he was ineligible for membership because of his inability to take an oath to the Queen as head of the Church of England. His election and subsequent re-election in 1829, forced the government of the Duke of Wellington in 1829 to repeal the prohibitions and grant emancipation, which also liberated not just Catholics but Presbyterians and all faiths other than the established Church of Ireland.

O'Connell also campaigned for Repeal, that is, repeal of the Act of Union that in 1801 merged the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He argued for the re-creation of an independent Kingdom of Ireland to govern itself, with Queen Victoria as Queen of Ireland. To push this, he held a series of Monster Meetings (mass rallies) throughout Ireland. Though Charles Stewart Parnell (who dominated Irish politics in the last quarter of the nineteenth century) is more usually associated with the title, O'Connell was popularly described as the Uncrowned King of Ireland. His campaign for Repeal was unsuccessful.

He died in Genoa in 1847, while travelling to Rome. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. His sons all served in Parliament.

The principal street in the centre of Dublin, previously called Sackville Street, was renamed O'Connell Street in his honour in the early twentieth century. His statue (made by the sculptor who designed the Prince Albert Monument in London) stands at one end of the street, with a statue of Parnell at the other.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Daniel O'Connell.