Liberating Ireland: Daniel O’Connell and the Civil Rights Campaigns of the Nineteenth Century

Lough Ree Yacht Club, on Wednesday, 26th October, 2016, at 8.00 pm

– Talk by Prof. Patrick Geoghegan, TCD
(with an introduction by Mr. Justice John Mac Menamin, Supreme Court)

Daniel O'Connell, Patrick Geoghegan, TCD, Repeal, Ireland

Daniel O’Connell ‘defending the rights of his countrymen in the courts of Dublin, Feb. 4, 1844’ (US Library of Congress)

Summary – On 18 June 1843 Daniel O’Connell addressed a monster meeting in Athlone where he urged the huge crowd to throw their enemies into the River Shannon. But despite proclaiming ‘Freedom or death’, the campaign for Repeal ended in failure later that year. This lecture will look at O’Connell’s major campaigns in the nineteenth century, from his successful campaign for civil rights in the 1820s, to his ongoing war against slavery in the United States, and through to his failed campaign for Repeal in the 1840s. Towards the end of his life Eamon De Valera admitted that the revolutionary generation of 1916 had never given O’Connell the respect he deserved, and he acknowledged that they would never have achieved independence without him. This lecture explores what De Valera meant.

Speaker – Professor Geoghegan is an expert on the Anglo-Irish relationship in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as on the competing themes of constitutional nationalism and republicanism between 1782 and 1848. His acclaimed two-volume study of Daniel O’Connell completed his examination of the tensions and conflicts which emerged following the abolition of the Irish parliament. The first volume provided a new analysis of the winning of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 while the second discussed the attempts to repeal the Union which failed so dramatically in the 1840s. A Vice-President of the College Historical Society (and a former gold medalist for oratory at the L&H), Professor Geoghegan has always been interested in the role of oratory in political debate and how oratory shaped political discourse. His current work develops from these interests and examines how Edmund Burke both succeeded and failed in using oratory to change the nature of imperial debate in the eighteenth century. He has also been commissioned to write the official history of the College Historical Society for its 250th anniversary.

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