Daniel O’Connell: “What a brute man becomes when ignorant and oppressed…” – A history repeated

Some words from the letters and speeches of Daniel O’Connell throughout the Irish conflict…

Gentlemen, you may soon have the alternative to live as slaves or die as free men” – Daniel O’Connell speaking in Mallow, County Cork.

Good God, what a brute man becomes when ignorant and oppressed. Oh Liberty! What horrors are committed in thy name! May every virtuous revolutionist remember the horrors of Wexford’! -Written in his Journal, 2 Jan 1799, referring to the 1798 Rebellion.

My days – the blossom of my youth and the flower of my manhood – have been darkened by the dreariness of servitude. In this my native land – in the land of my sires – I am degraded without fault as an alien and an outcast.’- Written in July 1812, aged 37, reflecting on the failure to secure equal rights or Catholic Emancipation for Catholics in Ireland.

How cruel the Penal Laws are which exclude me from a fair trial with men whom I look upon as so much my inferiors -. O’Connell’s Correspondence, Letter No 700, Vol II.

I want to make all Europe and America know it – I want to make England feel her weakness if she refuses to give the justice we [the Irish] require – the restoration of our domestic parliament …- Speech given at a ‘monster’ meeting held at Drogheda, June 1843.

There is an utter ignorance of, and indifference to, our sufferings and privations … What care they for us, provided we be submissive, pay the taxes, furnish recruits for the Army and Navy and bless the masters who either despise or oppress or combine both? The apathy that exists respecting Ireland is worse than the national antipathy they bear us’.- Letter to T.M. Ray, 1839, on English attitudes to Ireland.


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