James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

May 15

Daniel O’Connell

By John Boyle O’Reilly (1844–1890)

  • From “A Nation’s Test”
  • Daniel O’Connell, one of the most famous and powerful of Irish agitators and orators, was a leader of the agitation in favor of Catholic emancipation. In 1843 he was arrested and convicted of sedition and conspiracy, but the sentence was afterwards reversed. He died May 15, 1847.

  • GREAT men grow greater by the lapse of time:

    We know those least whom we have seen the latest;

    And they, ’mongst those whose names have grown sublime,

    Who worked for Human Liberty, are greatest.

    And now for one who allied will to work,

    And thought to act, and burning speech to thought;

    Who gained the prizes that were seen by Burke—

    Burke felt the wrong—O’Connell felt, and fought.

    Ever the same—from boyhood up to death:

    His race was crushed—his people were defamed;

    He found the spark, and fanned it with his breath,

    And fed the fire, till all the nation flamed!

    He roused the farms—he made the serf a yeoman;

    He drilled his millions and he faced the foe;

    But not with lead or steel he struck the foeman:

    Reason the sword—and human right the blow.

    He fought for home—but no land-limit bounded

    O’Connell’s faith, nor curbed his sympathies;

    All wrong to liberty must be confounded,

    Till men were chainless as the winds and seas.

    He fought for faith—but with no narrow spirit;

    With ceaseless hand the bigot laws he smote;

    One chart, he said, all mankind should inherit,—

    The right to worship and the right to vote.

    Always the same—but yet a glinting prism:

    In wit, law, statecraft, still a master-hand;

    An “uncrowned king,” whose people’s love was chrism;

    His title—Liberator of his Land!

    “His heart’s in Rome, his spirit is in heaven”—

    So runs the old song that his people sing;

    A tall Round Tower they builded in Glasnevin—

    Fit Irish headstone for an Irish king!