In a family tradition that has come to span centuries, the wife of Daniel O’Connell’s great-great-grandson was laid to rest last Tuesday in the O’Connell family tomb on Derrynane Abbey Island in Co Kerry.
The Irish Independent reports that Una O’Connell was born and lived most of her life in England before meeting her now late husband Dr. Daniel O’Connell. After being introduced to Derrynane by her husband in the late 1950s, Una became a regular visitor to the area.
In keeping with tradition, half of Una O’Connell’s ashes were carried by the cortege across the beach at low-tide to Derrynane to be placed in the tomb. The other half of her ashes were to be spread on the Thames River in London.
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Una’s son, also named Daniel, said that Derrynane still holds huge significance within the family, despite the O’Connells being spread around the UK. "Our children have been christened here and my cousin Danielle got married here last September," he said.
Access to the Chapel at Derrynane is now limited as it is under the ownership of the Office of Public Works, but it is always open for members of the O’Connell family.
Daniel O’Connell, known as the Liberator, was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery after his death in 1847, despite the family’s traditional burial at Derrynane. O’Connell’s heart, however,was buried in Rome according to his wishes. O’Connell was famous for his campaign for Catholic Emancipation and for a repeal of the Act of the Union.
"I wish there were more Daniel O'Connells around at the moment. He had more leadership in his little finger than the rest of them have put together," said Una O’Connell’s son, Daniel.
"If we were only half the man he was, we'd be doing all right."