The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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lowest vices—of the deepest pathos and the broadest humour—of the noblest generosity and most spiteful malignity. Like Virgil's oak-tree, his roots stretched down towards Tartarus, as far as his head soared towards the heavens; and I warn the reader, that whoso adventures to measure O'Connell must use a long rule, must apply a mighty standard, and raise himself up, by a ladder or otherwise, much above his own natural stature. The Clan O'Connell was an ancient sept in Kerry:—

"O'Connell of the battalions of Munster,
Mighty are his mustering forces;
A Fenian armed warrior, frequent in the fight,
Commands the hosts of Hy Cuilein."

So the O'Connells of the twelth century are described in the ancient topographical poem of O'Heerin. They did not keep a "Head Pacificator," nor would they have understood the modern O'Connell's method of using his mustering forces, in carrying out the "ethical experiment" of moral force. So much the better for them; the experiment proved a failure.

In the very same glens of Kerry, the clan O'Connell have dwelt for a thousand years; and a fragment of the ancient domain, which somehow escaped confiscation, remains in the family till this day. Many of the O'Connells had left Ireland in the time of the penal laws, and had taken service in Austria and in France. Count Daniel O'Connell was a General in the French service at the period of the great Revolution; wherein, like most of the Irish officers, he proved himself a staunch royalist. His cousin Daniel, of Irish fame, was always a monarchist also; and I have heard him say that he never could forget the shudder of horror that came upon him, when a student of St Omers, because a young Irishman of the Mountain party displayed with triumph a handkerchief, which he had dipped in the blood of Louis, as it flowed fresh in the Place de la Concorde. In the Irish Rebellion of 1798, also, he had enrolled himself, not in the insurgent force, but in the lawyer's corps, to put the insurgents down; and never spoke of the gallant rebels of that era without execration.

O'Connell's body rests in Ireland; but without his heart. He gave orders that the heart should be removed from his body and sent to Rome. The funeral was a great and mournful procession through the streets of Dublin, and it will show how wide was the alienation which divided him from his former confederates, that when O'Brien signified a wish to attend the obsequies, a public letter from John O'Connell sullenly forbade him. So long as John O'Connell continued to administer the ...continue reading »

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Page 137

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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