- Irish patriot, known as the "Liberator," born near Cahirciveen, co. Kerry; educated at St. Omer, Douay, and Lincoln's Inn; was called to the Irish bar in 1798, and was for twenty-two years a famous and prosperous practitioner on the Munster circuit; turning to politics he became leader of the Catholics in 1811, his object being the removal of the Catholic disabilities; the Catholic Association of 1823 was organised by him, which he induced the priesthood to join, and awakened irresistible enthusiasm throughout the country; the electors now began to vote independently, and O'Connell was returned for Clare in 1828; the House refused to admit him; but so strong, and at the same time so orderly, was the agitation in Ireland, that in 1829 the Catholic disabilities were removed, and O'Connell, returned again for Clare, took his seat in the House of Commons; next year he represented Waterford in the new Parliament, and subsequently Kerry, Dublin, Kilkenny, and Cork; he now formed a society for promoting the repeal of the Union, which survived several suppressions, and reappeared under different names; but in spite of his exertions in the House and in the country the cause languished, till, in 1843, as Lord Mayor of Dublin, he carried a resolution in its favour in the City Council; but now under the pressure of less experienced agitators, his monster meetings and other proceedings began to overstep legal limits, and in 1844 he, with six of his supporters, was indicted for raising sedition; he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment and a fine of £2000, but the sentence was set aside in 14 weeks; by this time the Young Ireland party had broken away from him, the potato famine came, he was conscious of failure, and his health was broken; he died on his way to Rome, at Genoa; a man of great physical strength and energy, and a master of oratory, he gave himself unselfishly to serve his country, sacrificing a legal practice worth £7000 a year, honestly administering the immense sums contributed, and spending his private means for his cause; with an undeniable taint of coarseness, violence, and scurrility in his nature, he was yet a man of independent and liberal mind, an opponent of rebellion, loyal to his sovereign, a great and sincere patriot (1775-1847).
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