Daniel O'Connell

Justin McCarthy
Chapter X | Start of Chapter

This man was Daniel O'Connell. He took up the work which Grattan had not been able to accomplish. O'Connell was born in Ireland in 1775. His family were Catholics of the land-owning class, but had suffered from all the disqualifications imposed on Catholics of any order. He was sent when a child to a Catholic school, which happened to be the first seminary ever kept openly by a Catholic Priest in Ireland since the enactment of the penal laws. Then O'Connell was sent with his brother to a school in Belgium, and afterwards to one in France, where they remained until the outbreak of the French Revolution made it desirable for them to return to Ireland. The impressions produced on the boy Daniel O'Connell by the revolutionary excesses in France left their abiding mark on his political career, and made him an unalterable enemy to every form of agitation which might lead to the spilling of blood. He studied for the Bar at Lincoln's Inn, and practised in Ireland, where he soon became one of the most rising advocates of the day, although the laws still existing would not allow him, as a Catholic, to obtain the honour of a silk gown.