Remembering Daniel O’Connell
On this day in 1947 the Irish Examiner provided an insight into the final months of the ‘Liberator’, the Great ‘Daniel O’Connell who died in Italy in May 1847.
JUST one hundred years ago Daniel O'Connell, on his way to Rome, had left Paris lor Lyons, where it was intended he would rest, for the Liberator, who had given life service to his nation, was now an infirm man. The journey which at present would occupy a few hours by train — less by aeroplane — took twelve days. O'Connell's health deteriorated and his companions became alarmed, but the indomitable old man was determined to complete his pilgrimage to the Eternal City. His arrival at Lyons aroused great interest in the city, for O'Connell's fame, which had travelled all over the world was nowhere stronger than in France. When he was able to walk abroad, crowds gathered around him expressing appreciation and sympathy. Masses were said for the recovery of 'le grand Liberateur d'Irlande" in all the numerous Catholic churches. The party left Lyons on April 22nd and leisurely descended the Rhone to Marseilles, where they arrived on May 2nd. O'Connell's health had improved and hopes were entertained for his complete recovery. The completion of the pilgrimage to Rome seemed certain- On May 5th, the party sailed from Marseilles for Genoa, which was reached next day. For about two days O'Connell's health continued to improve, but then there was a rapid reaction and his strength gave out. On Saturday, May 15th, the Liberator passed away having bequeathed his heart to Rome and his body to Ireland. These last wishes were faithfully observed.
For a long period, after his death, the majority of his countrymen stood loyal to the principles and political methods which O'Connell advocated, and despite the deprecatory attitude later adopted by new parties that openly or tacitly favoured physical force, the strong body of opinion in Iceland still honours the memory of Daniel O'Connell and will pay homage to him this, the centenary year of his death. It is no exaggeration to say that the freedom of Ireland was won by Daniel O'Connell and that it was due to his leadership that Eire occupies the internationally recognised freedom which we enjoy. The subsequent leaders, who counted most in building up liberty, have built on the foundations laid by O'Connell. Others availed of the political structure raised by and strengthened by Parnell, Redmond and Dillon to complete what it was not given to them to achieve. As one speaker put it O'Connell was the greatest Irish leader that Ireland had. He was a man of the Irish people without a drop of foreign blood. He knew the Irish people and how to lead them. The grandchildren and the great grandchildren of the people who acclaimed him as victor of Catholic Emancipation will honour his memory this year.
For more information on O’Connell search the pages of the Irish Newspaper Archive