|Daniel O'Connell by George Hayter|
Daniel O’Connell, who in the early 19th century was one of the leading barristers in Ireland, led the campaign for Catholic Emancipation, which had consumed England for many decades, beginning in the 18th century. He was a moderate and a brilliant voice, speaking for the Irish in a way that England could not ignore. His actions would gain him the title The Liberator of Ireland.
Though a Deist in his youth, after the infamous duel in 1815, where he killed John D'Esterre, a leading member of the Protestant Ascendancy who had challenged him, O’Connell returned to his faith. In 1816, he became a devout Catholic, to the great joy of his wife.
In 1817, he stated,
“My political creed is short and simple. It consists in believing that all men are entitled as of right and justice to religious and civil liberty…I have taken care to require it only on that principle which would emancipate the Catholics in Ireland, would protect the Protestants in France and Italy, and destroy the Inquisition, together with inquisitors, in Spain. Religion is debased and degraded by human interference; and surely the worship of the Deity cannot but be contaminated by the admixture of worldly ambition or human force.”
Until the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, Catholics could not, among other things, hold public office nor serve in Parliament. Ironically, the Prince Regent opposed Catholic Emancipation even though he married (illegally) Maria Fitzherbert, a twice-widowed Roman Catholic, who was arguably the love of his life. He did not, however, veto the new law in 1829, pressed by the Whigs and opposed by the Tories, which emancipated the Catholics.
In 1828, when Daniel O’Connell stood for election in County Clare and won, he could not take a seat in the House of Commons—not until 1829 with the new law. In finally gaining emancipation for all Catholics, Daniel O’Connell won the title “The Liberator.”
Daniel O’Connell was a tall, handsome man with a head of dark curls and shinning blue eyes. My hero in The Shamrock & The Rose, Morgan O’Connell, is Daniel’s fictional Protestant cousin with the same dark good looks. Daniel O’Connell did have a Protestant cousin and Protestant friends, so it’s quite possible a scenerio. In his younger days before he married, when he was training in England, Daniel was quite the rake. My fictional Morgan O’Connell was one as well until he met Rose Collingwood.
Put yourself in the mood and grab a copy of my novella, The Shamrock & The Rose, 99¢ on Amazon.
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