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In Ireland, Daniel O'Connell is known as The Liberator. As a barrister and MP, he obtained civil rights for the Catholics that comprised three-quarters of Ireland's population in 1829.

Daniel O'Connell Monument in Dublin
Daniel O'Connell Monument in Dublin
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Today, Daniel O'Connell's home is the centerpiece of Derrynane National Park in Co. Kerry. Where is Derrynane?

Driving directions

Located two miles (3.5 kilometers) west of Caherdaniel, Ireland, the national park and Derrynane House are just west of the Ring of Kerry road, N70.

On the entrance sign, we saw the Irish/Gaelic name for Derrynane, Teach Doir' Fhionain, which means Saint Fionan's Wood. In the 6th century, St. Fionan Cam founded a monastery in County Kerry.

National park map

Frank Walsh, our informative Kerry tour guide, showed us a map of Derrynane National Historic Park. Besides Derrynane House, the 320-acre (130-hectare) park includes a garden, nature trail, Blue Flag beach and Abbey Island.

"Daniel O'Connell was the Abraham Lincoln of Ireland," explained Walsh. "He was peaceful, like Gandhi, but organized mass gatherings in Dublin, which frightened authorities, so they imprisoned him."

Tour of Daniel O'Connell's House

We learned more about Daniel O'Connell on a one-hour tour of Derrynane House, now a museum, covered with Valentia Island slate. Although no photos are allowed of the period furniture and Daniel O'Connell's personal artefacts, the tour and pre-tour video are worthwhile.

Daniel O'Connell's Derrynane House
Daniel O'Connell's Derrynane House
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

In the dining room, we saw portraits of O'Connell's family, wife Mary, and child Daniel, who was dressed like a girl, with long hair. At the time, people believed that fairies stole male children, so they disguised boys as girls, until the age of seven.

Derrynane House contains a table, carved from a single piece of oak, an Irish harp and a glass case containing duelling pistols. O'Connell used one to resolve a dispute with John D'Esterre, his rival. After D'Esterre passed away from a bleeding thigh wound, O'Connell wore a black glove continuously to commemorate the loss.

In the bedroom, a framed letter from O'Connell to the Irish people, in 1844, advised them not to fight or riot. (They followed his wishes.)

We also saw the bed where Daniel O'Connell died in 1847, in Genoa, on a pilgrimage to see the pope after he developed a brain tumor. O'Connell's death took place during the Irish potato famine.

After the Derrynane House tour, we visited the chapel, containing a relic of St. Valentine and Daniel O'Connell's chair, which was large enough to seat his portly body.

Home of Daniel O'Connell in Derrynane National Park
Home of Daniel O'Connell in Derrynane National Park
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Outside the chapel is a building housing a gold chariot, which was drawn by six horses. It carried Daniel O'Connell through Dublin, Ireland, at the peak of his career in 1844, after he was released from prison.

Derrynane gardens

After touring Derrynane House, we strolled through gardens, planted with trees and shrubs from around the world. A walk across Derrynane Bay beach brought us to the attractions on Abbey Island.


Derrynane House: www.heritageireland.ie

Tourism Ireland: www.discoverireland.com

More things to see and do in Ireland:

Irish Breakfasts at Ireland B&Bs

Bodhran Lesson - Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry Ireland

Southwest Ireland - Dowsing for Water and Earth Energy

Sheepdog Trials and Training Border Collies - Kells Ireland

Puck Fair Festival - Killorglin Co. Kerry Ireland