Derrynane, the Oakwood of St Fionán, stands at the very tip of the Iveragh Peninsula in Co. Kerry. Sheltered within the woodland stands Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, lawyer, politician and statesman, and one of the great figures in modern Irish history.
Many relics of O’Connell’s life and career are preserved in Derrynane House, but the house is more than just a museum. Derrynane was one of the great influences on Daniel O’Connell’s life as he himself was always ready to admit. For several generations, it had been the ancestral home of the O’Connell’s. It had been his own childhood home and, throughout his career, it was his country residence. He and his family spent most summers at Derrynane. It was here that he was host to many guests in the surroundings that he loved and here he indulged his passion for beagling. Many books have been written about O’Connell but one can perhaps gain a greater insight into his character by visiting his home at Derrynane and experiencing the surroundings familiar to him during his life.
Today some 120 hectares (300 acres) of the lands of Derrynane, together with Derrynane House, make up Derrynane National Historic Park, under the management of National Historic Properties of the Office of Public Works. The House was officially opened to the public as a museum commemorating Daniel O’Connell by President Eamon De Valera in August 1967 and the surrounding Park was officially declared open by President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in August 1975 to mark the 200th anniversary of O’Connell’s birth.
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