Derrynane House, Co Kerry, Ireland

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

One of the things we loved most about staying in one place while we were in Ireland was the chance to get to know our "neighborhood." While we were in Ireland last month, We stayed only 4 miles from Caherdaniel, home of "the Liberator" - Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847). Derrynane House, his favorite home, was also one of our favorite sites in our neighborhood, and we went there several times.

Derrynane House

Daniel was a lawyer who was horrified by the violence of war (he even escaped France during the revolution) and worked to change the laws in Ireland to include Emancipation for Catholics. He achieved this in 1829, when the British government granted emancipation for Catholics. O'Connell was the first Catholic to sit in the House of Commons (1830). He then worked on creating an Irish government for Ireland. He was imprisoned by the British government for conspiracy, and spent 3 months in prison. When he was released, he rode in a HUGE chariot and was elated at the crowds supporting him.

On the advice of his doctor to help his poor health, he traveled to Italy in 1847 and died there. He was returned to Ireland and buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

So - that's the history! Let me share with you his house, Derrynane House, in Caherdaniel. It was his uncle's house, and he spent many happy times there. It is right on Derrynane beach (separated by some gorgeous dunes) and is smaller than you'd think. Yet it has just the right amount of elegance and family - he and his wife had 11 children (7 survived), and after his uncle died, his wife came with him to stay (guess the wife and the uncle didn't get along). It was a very long commute to Dublin, where he worked in government.

Derrynane House

The house is of grey slate, and is run by the Office of Public Works (along with many of Ireland's best sites). It is surrounded by an extremely gorgeous parkland, as it has amazing (and extensive) gardens. Ireland is so green, but these gardens were incredibly vivacious, and full of beautiful plants and flowers. They are very well known and it is free to wander them.

Derrynane House

Derrynane House

Derrynane House

Derrynane House

Within the house (no photos allowed, so please use your imagination) were beautiful reception rooms, cases of honors, awards, medals, and gloves (given to Daniel in honor of him not dueling again). The thing that most impressed our 8-year old daughter was his death bed, shipped back from Italy. It was very small, and she said "I would not like to sleep in that." It stuck with her so much that she returned to that room several times on each visit. Another thing that impressed us was the HUGE chariot that he rode when he was released from prison. It was the original, restored, and was extremely large. Taller than an NBA player, and painted in gold, it had a throne that he sat in.  We already knew from the death bed that he wasn't a large man. So this chariot? Super-sized!

There was also an interesting AV presentation about his life, which taught us much about the time, Irish history, and his personal and political history.

Disability accommodations:
There are stairs in the house, so if you are unable to climb them, you won't be able to see the upper half. In the downstairs, there are several rooms with interesting history. Across the courtyard, you are able to see the AV presentation, the chapel, and the room housing the carriage. The parking lot is a long walk from the house, and the walkway is gravel. The gardens are also laid with gravel paths.

Derrynane House

We highly recommend learning about these smaller places, and not just sticking to the big tourist spots. We learned so much about Irish history through his life and times, and looking at how the house was set up and run. We loved it, and would go back in a heartbeat.

To get there: Caherdaniel is between Sneem and Waterville on the Ring of Kerry. When you get into Caherdaniel, turn south (toward the water) at the main crossroads. You'll pass the Blind Piper (great seafood chowder) and head down a very curvy small road, which will come to a T at Derrynane House. If you want to continue down to Derrynane Beach, turn left at the T.




All photos courtesy and copyright Wandering Educators


Note: We were given a media pass by the Office of Public Works to visit Derrynane House. Thank you!




Comments (2)

  • Nicole Durbin

    13 years 9 months ago

    My kids and I have been learning about early 1800s European history, would be a great place for us to visit if it weren't so far! And the gardens look especially fun to explore!

  • Dominique-Midwe...

    13 years 9 months ago

    Hard to believe all those walls are slate!

    It's always funny to see how small folks were in earlier years. I remember thinking that even when I viewed the costume collection at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland! I can only imagine how small the bed must have I suspect folks may have been smaller yet that many years ago!


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