Public Art Around The World

More Than Just The Plaque

Daniel O’Connell statue

Daniel O’Connor

Public Art : Daniel O’Connell statue

Also Known As :  “The Liberator”

Sculptor: © Sir Thomas Brock

Daniel O’Connor statue

Description: A bronze life size statue of the Irish political leader who campaigned for Catholic Emancipation . This was the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament, something that had been denied them for over 100 years and repeal of the Act of Union which combined Great Britain and Ireland.

O’Connell, dressed in his typical Irish garb of long coat and cloak holds a scroll in his right hand , which is the petition he presented to parliament and at his feet the statutes on which he argued his case. The base is made from Mornington granite and the base from red granite from Gabo Island.

Sculptor Sir Thomas Brock in part avoided the artistic problems of representing O’Connell in his medieval dandy attire by including a sweeping cape. Evidently, long coat and stovepipe trousers were so 19th century and considered rather hideous.

Date Unveiled : The statue of Daniel O’Connell was unveiled by Sir B.O’Loghen, MLA, on the 30th May, 1891, which was the anniversary of ‘Connell’s imprisonment in 1844.

Cast : Cast in  Brussels, Belgium in 1888

Funding : The fund for the statue was launched in 1875 by a committee of Irish Catholics and money raised was by public subscription.

Cost: £1600 – £1800

Location: Outside St Patrick’s Cathedral, corner of Gisborne Street and Cathedral Place , Melbourne, Australia.

Inscription :

Daniel O`Connell – The Liberator 1775-1847

The leading Irish stateman and Catholic Parliamentarian of his day, O`Connell was the founder of the Catholic Association, a mass movement which promoted universal human rights and social justice, exclusively by political means and non-violent action. He led the struggle to pass the Emancipation Act of 1829 by which the British parliament finally repealed the remnants of the terrible penal laws against Catholics and re-established the basis for the civil and religious rights throughout the British EMpire.

This statue is the work of Thomas Brock A.R.A., was accepted in trust by Archbishop Carr for the citizens of Melbourne, on 14th May 1891. It was restored in 1998.

This plaque was unveiled by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, o 6th September 1998 to reaffirm the historic links between Australia and Ireland.

Background : For a long time the only statue that graced the grounds of St Patrick’s Cathedral was that of Daniel O’Connell.

During the unveiling it was mentioned that most of the people actively involved in erecting the statue had since died.

Archbishop Carr accepted the custody of the statue and proclaimed “standing as it did beneath the shadow of the Cathedral, it typified O’Connell’s attachment and services to the Church.”


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