The O'Connell Sept in Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXVII

The sept of O'Connell, from which this noble man was descended, held a prominent position among the early Milesian clans. Pure Celtic blood ran in his veins; the fire of Celtic wit sparkled in his utterances; the lighthearted happiness of a Celtic spirit guided his actions; and the undaunted bravery of a Celtic warrior's courage looked out of his clear beaming eye. A nobleman, in truth, was Daniel O'Connell—a nobleman of whom any nation might justly be proud—a nobleman to whom we must hope that Ireland will yet raise some monument of enduring fame.

The O'Connell sept were driven from their ancestral homes, in 1172, by Raymond, Strongbow's son-in-law. Their territory lay along the Shannon. They were now compelled to take refuge in a wild and desolate part of Kerry, too wild and too desolate to attract English cupidity. A MS. is still preserved in the British Museum, written by one of the O'Connell family; it is in the Irish language, and bears date 1245. In this document mention is made of a Daniel O'Connell, who proceeded to the north of Ireland, at the head of a large body of men, to resist an invading force. The Celts were successful; and when they had won the day, the chieftain and his vanquished foes feasted together. In 1586 Richard O'Connell was High Sheriff of Kerry; but, from the accession of William III., until the illustrious Liberator obtained some degree of freedom for his country, all the O'Connells were prescribed from positions of emolument, for having held with unswerving fidelity to the old faith.