by Bernard Mulrenin
watercolour and bodycolour on ivory, 1836
6 1/8 in. x 5 1/4 in. (155 mm x 133 mm) oval, uneven
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- Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), Irish politician; MP for several constituencies. Sitter associated with 203 portraits.
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The charismatic pioneer of Irish popular politics, O'Connell had grown up in the shadow of the repressive 'Penal Laws' which maintained the social and civil inferiority of Catholics in Ireland. In 1823 he founded the Catholic Association to mobilise the entire Irish Catholic population in a systematic challenge to the Protestant ruling class, known as the 'Ascendancy'. By sheer force of numbers and the ultimate threat of civil war they finally achieved the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829.