[The following passage comes from an article in the September 1878 issue of the The Graphic. — George P. Landow]

Mr. Gladstone, during his recent visit to Dublin, complained of the absence of a statue of Sheil, the “most striking orator he ever listened to,” but a much more remarkable omission is apparent in the absence from the thoroughfares of a statue of the Liberator, Daniel O'Connell. This want, however, will soon be met by the erection in Sackville Street of a splendid monument, on which Foley devoted the later years of his life. This will be placed at the north side of Carlisle Bridge, and will thus occupy the middle distance in the splendid Boulevard, which, when the widening of the bridge is completed, will extend from the College to Nelson's Pillar and the Rotundo. The memorial will consist of a granite pediment, projecting from the four corners of which will be figures of the winged Victories, “Patriotism,” “Fidelity” holding the mariner's compass, “true,, as the needle to the pole it loves,” “Courage” and “Eloquence.” Rising from the centre, there will be a drum surrounded by fifty figures chiefly representing the poets, clergy, and peasantry of Ireland, but one exquisitely chiselled female figure larger than the others is the impersonation of Ireland, her left arm resting on a harp, and her right raised aloft, directing the attention of her beholders to the statue which graces the apex of the structure. This is of bronze, and is said to be as like O’Connell as the statues of Burke and Goldsmith are like their originals.

This remarkable man, who for nearly half a century was the tribune of the people, the incessant advocate of their religious and political liberties, was born on August 6, 1775, on the verge of the Atlantic, in the County Kerry. He obtained his earliest education outside his home from a hedge schoolmaster. At thirteen he was sent with a brother to a school in Cork, and thence to the University of Louvain, the College of St. Omer, and the Douay College. The two boys, in returning from Louvain, crossed in the steamer from Calais with John and Henry Sheares, two brothers afterwards executed for treason in Dublin, and they then discovered how much aglow the hearts of these other youths were with the flame of the French Revolution. Their daring utterances, however, did not infect the O’Connells, however deeply impressed they may have been even then with the injustice under which their own country suffered, and Daniel’s famous expression, “He that commits a wrong gives strength to the enemy,” became the axiom of his life. Although frequently carried away by the enthusiasm of worshipping crowds assembled

By the Royal hill and the haunted rath,
By the hallowed spring and the holy well,

to hear from him “golden words of deathless speech and lightning flashes of immortal wit,” he often verged on the limits the law allowed, but did not overstep them. He was called to the Bar at the age of twenty-three, and before he was thirty-five was recognised in Ireland as the leader in the political movement on behalf of Catholic Emancipation. It is matter of history, and does not need repetition now that, having won religious freedom for the people, he did not rest from his advocacy of their other rights, and plunged with all his unparalleled zeal and pertinacity into the Reform agitation. Later on arose the movement for a Repeal of the Union, in the course of which more than a million people on two or three occasions formed his auditory, his main argument for which was that the Government of Ireland was one of broken promises.

“How often did I preach patience to you, calm you, and entreat you to listen to the promises of England? You obeyed me; you were quiet and silent; and Ireland wanted to receive from England as a magnanimous boon that which she might have demanded as her own just right. But England has never availed herself of the opportunity which I promised her for displaying her greatness and her magnanimity. When I and Ireland were silent, she forgot her promises, and the old wrongs were continued.”

It has been said of him that the warmth of his heart was ever reflected on his face, and that, looking at that sunny countenance, you could never, were it not for his oratory, believe he had a grievance. His great affection for his sons, all of whom, when their father, growing old and feeble, still persevered in advocating the cause of the people, stood by him, showed how noble were the qualities animating his inner soul. His love for the people, for the Catholic Church, for his children, were all imbued with a blamelessness of thought, and with a Christian fervour which gave him fortitude, when, after his long life of excitement and applause, he found himself dying, as he wished to die, on the threshold of the Holy City. A few days before he passed away he wrote a letter, in which he paid back, in sweet words of grati- tude, the debt he owed his mother: — “I am the son of a sainted mother, who watched over my childhood with the most faithful care; she was of a high order of intellect, and what little I possess was bequeathed me by her. Her last breath was passed, thank Heaven, in calling down blessings on my head, and I valued her blessings since. In the perils and the dangers to which I have been exposed through life, I have regarded her blessing as an angel's shield over me, and as it has been my protection in this life, I look forward to it also as one of the means of obtaining hereafter a happiness greater than this world can give.” [178]


“Dublin Illustrated.” The Graphic (17 August 1878): 169-81. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of Illinois Library. Web. 14 August 2018.

Last modified 14 August 2018