The Hereditary Bondsman: Daniel O'Connell, 1775-1829

Oliver MacDonagh, Author St. Martin's Press $35 (328p) ISBN 978-0-312-01616-6
This first volume of a biography of a formative figure in Irish nationalism draws on a rich correspondence recently made available. O'Connell, known as the Liberator, grew up in a dualistic society, part Gaelic, part English, and in many ways lived a dual life. Sent abroad from his modest Kerry home to study law, he kept a steady stream of convincing letters flowing to his formidable uncle, the domineering Hunting Cap, which elicited grudging funds. His marriage, kept secret until the birth of the first child, was sustained on almost daily letters to and from his wife. This detailed study of a sharply divided life ends in 1829, when O'Connell, architect of the Catholic Relief Act, is elected to the House of Commons. A political autodidact, the man who hoped to become his country's Washington is presented in a rounded view that incorporates his private life and the public, charismatic personality. MacDonagh is an Australian professor of history. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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