01/09/12

01/09/2012 ‘Liberator’ O’Connell to be commemorated at Derrynane House event tomorrow

• Contributors will outline importance of O’Connell’s meetings with German Prince and celebrated opponent of slavery

Friday, August 31st: Jimmy Deenihan TD,  Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, will tomorrow (Saturday) host a seminar to commemorate the ‘Liberator’, Daniel O’Connell, in Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, Co Kerry on Saturday 1st September, 2012. The seminar will be addressed by the Minister and two invited speakers, Dan Mulhall and Nettie Douglass.

Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to Germany, will present a paper on ‘King Dan and the German Prince: Daniel O’Connell’s meeting with Hermann von Puckler-Muskau, September 1828’.

Nettie Douglass, great great granddaughter of Frederick Douglass, will present a paper on the influence that Daniel O’Connell had on Frederick after meeting him when he came to visit Ireland in 1845. Her paper is entitled ‘O’Connell, Douglass and Lincoln: The Legacy of Emancipation’.

Speaking ahead of the seminar Minister Deenihan said that he was delighted to welcome the guest speakers and the audience to the  home of Daniel O’Connell.

“I have been a lifelong admirer of Daniel O’Connell and his achievements in asserting through peaceful means the cause of the Irish people at a time when the lot of the ordinary Irishman was arguably at its lowest ebb.  I believe that he is distinguished in his age for his dedication to the advancement of society, his recognition of the universality of human rights and his unshakeable commitment to his principles.

“Daniel O’Connell’s political creed resonated with Frederick Douglass, who read O’Connell’s great orations on liberation and equality. When Douglass wrote an account of his life as a slave which became such a sensational bestseller in America that he had to flee New York, Douglass came to Ireland to meet Daniel O’Connell. President Obama has said that Douglass felt that this meeting ‘defined him not as a colour; but as a man, and strengthened the non-violent campaign he would return home to wage.’

Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to Germany, commented:

“O’Connell deserves to be recognized for his singular achievement in gaining an international reputation during his lifetime. The German Prince’s visit serves to highlight this aspect of O’Connell’s career. The Prince was also significant in that he spurred a wave of 19th century German enthusiasm and sympathy for Ireland, which has been further developed during the past century by the work of Nobel Prize winner, Heinrich Boll.  This positive attitude to Ireland is reflected, for example, in the fact that more than 450,000 Germans now visit Ireland annually and that there are two German language magazines devoted exclusively to Ireland.”

Nettie Douglass, great great granddaughter of Frederick Douglass, commented:

“My great great grandfather met Daniel O’Connell in Dublin during the month of September 1845. After having published his autobiographical, ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave’, Douglass fled the United States because of the inherent danger of being both a successful author and an escaped slave. The impression O’Connell made upon Douglass was instant. In a letter immediately following his meeting with O’Connell Douglass wrote as though he’d been smitten saying:

Mr. O’Connell rose and delivered a speech of about an hour and a quarter long. It  was a great speech, skillfully delivered, powerful in its logic, majestic in its rhetoric,  biting  in its sarcasm, melting in its pathos, and burning in its rebukes…I have  heard many speakers within the last four years – speakers of the first order; but I  confess, I have never heard one, by whom I was more completely captivated than by  Mr. O’Connell…His power over an audience is perfect.”

“It’s unlikely that, without the influence of Daniel O’Connell, Douglass would have endeavoured to engage so directly in the politics surrounding the American Civil War and emancipation in the 19th century.”

This commemorative seminar will take place tomorrow, Saturday September 1st, at Derrynane House, County Kerry, commencing at 11.30am.

Ends

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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