Mystery of Daniel O’Connell’s letter solved










On Saturday 29th August, we conducted a little experiment as part of a talk on ‘public outreach’ by the Director of the Library.

We wondered whether we could encourage users of social media to ‘share’ and ‘retweet’ an item from our collections so that it was seen by 10,000 people.

As part of the experiment, we chose a letter written from London by Daniel O’Connell, MP, to his wife in Dublin on the day that the Emancipation Act was passed in 1829.

We posted an image of the envelope in which the letter arrived. If you wanted to see what he wrote, we teased, you’d have to share and retweet so that we would reach as large an audience as possible.

Thanks to everyone who got involved, the original post was seen by over 23,000 people on Facebook, and over 100,000 people on Twitter. A very successful experiment indeed.

We did promise a transcription, but being honest, his hand-writing was so absolutely awful that it floored us. We opened it up to the public with the promise of €100 to the first person to send a full transcription to and it was later picked up by the Sunday Times.

Many thanks to all those who took part. Although we didn’t offer runner-up prizes we will send a beautiful catalogue of our current exhibition to everyone who has already sent us their transcriptions.


Many thanks to Rickard O’Connell who was the first to email us followed in order by:

Laura Magnier
Brian Comerford
Terry Szymanski
Sarah Carroll
Michele Savage
Kay MacKeogh
Síle Ní Mharcaigh
Mary Lonergan
Patrick O’Donovan

13 April 1829

My own darling love

The day has at length arrived when the royal assent is to be given to the Catholic Bill – that Emancipation for which I have so long struggled is at length achieved – I am going down to the House of Lords to be present at the giving of the royal assent – Of course it is given by commission – And as to myself darling I think I can promise you that I will take my seat in the House the day on which the act comes in operation – Now if the subscription goes on well darling I will have you here please God early in May. There is a Mr. Fulton here of whom I spoke to you – He is a Protestant yet he has put down his name for £200 for my subscription – Only think of that – Darling, I wish you could discover exactly Miss Redington’s fortune – Dillon Bellew if spoken to confidentially would tell you I am quite sure – Mr. L’Estrange ought to know it – In point of fortune I would much prefer Miss O’Brien – But the choice must be with Maurice – Give him my kindest love – I enclose here a letter from his friend Capt. Martin left here yesterday – The adjournment of the House will be I understand a full fortnight from tomorrow – That will bring us to the 28th of April on which day I really expect to be in the house – My own darling love how I regret to be separated from you my sweetest heart’s treasure – I dined yesterday with Mr. Wright a Catholic banker at a country house about two miles from town – Blount was there and congratulated me as ‘he would the Duke of Wellington on the victory at Waterloo’ –

Get Maurice to find out for me that state of Sir Anthony Hart’s health – and also whether he means to sit before term and if so on what day –

Darling love how my heart is at ease about our sweet Danny. Give him my tender love and a sweet kiss for his face -Tell my girls how sorry I am that I did not see them in their Court dresses – I wish I had been present when my Betsey was kissed by the Duke. She must have blushed pretty deeply as much indignation as anything else –

Ever Sweetest

Yours most most humbly

Daniel O’Connell

High-resolution files are available for download here:  [wpfilebase tag=file id=138 /]  [wpfilebase tag=file id=139 /]

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