THE 19th century Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell has been honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at his former home in Mayfair.
The plaque commemorates O’Connell’s achievements as a successful campaigner for Catholic Emancipation and civil rights and features his popular soubriquet, The Liberator.
O’Connell’s campaigns include the right of Catholics to sit in the British Parliament, which was achieved in 1829, and his strong opposition to slavery, which was crucial to its abolition in 1833 within the British jurisdiction.
The Blue Plaque unveiling was attended by Jimmy Deenihan, the Irish Minister for the Diaspora, the Ambassador of Ireland to Britain Dan Mulhall and members of the O’Connell family.
Minsiter Deenihan said: “O’Connell was not just an Irish figure, but a man of international stature, renowned for his progressive views, his belief in the universality of human rights and his unshakeable commitment to liberal, reforming principles.
“It gives me great pleasure to officially unveil the English Heritage Blue Plaque commemorating Daniel O’Connell, Ireland’s Liberator and one of the commanding figures in the politics of these islands during his lifetime.”
Living in London for a large part of his life and career, O’Connell’s political outlook was influenced by attending the trials of the London radicals Thomas Hardy and John Horne Tooke.
Taking his parliamentary seat in 1830, as the first popularly elected Catholic MP since the Reformation, O’Connell sat in the Commons for the rest of his life and was a major player in Westminster.
Professor Martin Daunton, Deputy Chair of the English Heritage Blue Plagues panel described O’Connell as arguably the Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi of his age.
“His campaign for Catholic Emancipation and his principled opposition to slavery was – and still is – admired around the world. We are delighted to honour this towering figure in the city which formed the backdrop for much of his career,” he said.
The Blue Plaque marks O’Connell’s former home at 14 Albemarle Street in London’s Mayfair, where he lived from February until at least July, 1833, while campaigning to abolish slavery.
In being commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque, O’Connell joins an exclusive group of illustrious Irish figures, including; Ernest Shackleton, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats.
Geoffrey O’Connell, the great-great-grandson of Daniel, said: “We are delighted that Daniel O’Connell has been recognised with the award of an English Heritage Blue Plaque in this great city which did much to shape his beliefs and ideals.”