The Family

Scroll down this page to see portraits and read brief biographies of some of the family members associated with Derrynane House. Many of these portraits are on display in the Dining Room and Drawing Room. See the O’Connell family tree on the Peerage website.


A graphic of the immediate family of Daniel O’Connell.

Count Daniel O’Connell by Jean Baptiste Paulin Guerín (1783-1855)

Oil on canvas, nd

Count O’Connell (1745-1833) was Daniel O’Connell’s paternal uncle. He served in the Irish Brigade in the French Army, reaching the rank of lieutenant-general. He was created a count of France in 1783 and in this portrait he wears his riband and star as a Commander of the Order of St Louis. He left France after the Revolution and became a Colonel in the British Army. 


Count Daniel O'Connell by Jean Baptiste Paulin Guerin. OPW.

Daniel O’Connell by John Gubbins

Oil on canvas, c.1817-18

This portrait shows Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) with his hand on a petition seeking ‘freedom of conscience’ for Catholics. Among the signatures are some of the leading supporters of Catholic emancipation, including Daniel Murray, President of Maynooth College (later Catholic Archbishop of Dublin), William Coppinger, Catholic Bishop of Cloyne and Ross, and the Earls of Fingall and Kenmare. The silver cup on the table was presented to him in 1814 by the ‘Manufacturers of the Liberty of the City of Dublin’ and is on display in the Library.

Daniel O'Connell by John Gubbins. OPW.

Mary O’Connell and her son, Daniel by John Gubbins (fl 1820s)

Oil on canvas, c.1817

Daniel O’Connell’s wife, Mary (1778-1836), was born in Tralee, the daughter of Dr Thomas O’Connell. Although she was a distant cousin, Daniel’s uncle, Maurice ‘Hunting Cap’, did not approve of her because of her lack of fortune. They were forced to marry in secret in 1802.

Mary is shown holding her youngest surviving child, also called Daniel (1816-97). He ran a brewery for many years before serving as MP for Dundalk (1846-7), Waterford City (1847-8), and Tralee (1853-63). In 1863 he moved to London to become Commissioner for Income Tax. He married Ellen Mary Foster in 1866.

Mary O'Connell (wife of Daniel O'Connell) with her youngest son, Daniel. OPW

Morgan O’Connell (artist unknown)

Oil on Canvas, c.1819/20

Painted at the same time as the other portraits of the O’Connell family, this portrait may have been by a different artist. Morgan O’Connell (1804-85) is shown wearing the uniform of the Irish Legion which was raised by John Devereux of Co. Wexford to aid Simón Bolívar in his fight against Spanish rule in South America. Following a disastrous expedition to South America in 1820-1, he later joined the Austrian Army and served as an officer in the Light Cavalry based in Hungary. He returned to Ireland and served as MP for Meath (1832-40). In 1840 he took up a government position as assistant registrar of deeds and married Kate Balfe.

Morgan O’Connell (artist unknown). OPW

Maurice O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s)

Oil on canvas, c.1820

Maurice O’Connell (1803-53) was Daniel and Mary’s eldest son. He qualified as a barrister but rarely practiced. He was MP for Clare (1831-2) and Tralee (1832-7, 1838-53). He married Mary Frances Scott in 1832 and inherited the Derrynane estate after his father’s death.

Maurice O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s). OPW

Catherine ‘Kate’ O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s)

Oil on canvas, 1818

Mary O’Connell described this as a ‘most excellent likeness’ of her daughter Catherine (1807-91). Her father referred to her as ‘Saucy Kate’ because of her sharp wit. She married Charles O’Connell in 1832. He was a distant relation and MP for Kerry (1832-4).

Catherine ‘Kate’ O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s). OPW

Elizabeth ‘Betsey’ and John O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s)

Oil on canvas, c.1818

Betsey (1810-93) and John (1810-58) were both born in the same year, in February and December respectively. Betsey married Nicholas Ffrench, a Catholic landowner from Co. Roscommon in 1831. 

John was the most politically-active of O’Connell’s sons and played a leading role in the Repeal Association. He served as M.P. for Youghal (1832-7), Athlone (1837-41), Kilkenny City (1841-7), Limerick City (1847-51), and Clonmel (1853-7). Although he was seen at one time as a possible political heir to his father, he retired from politics to take up the office of Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper in 1857 and died the following year.


Elizabeth ‘Betsey’ and John O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s). OPW

Ellen O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s)

Oil on canvas, c.1818

Ellen O’Connell’s (1805-1883) interest in literature and music is reflected in her portrait which contains a harp, a copy of Thomas Moore’s narrative poem ‘Lalla Rookh’ and one of his melodies, ‘The Harp that once Through Tara’s Halls’. In 1825 she married Christopher Fitzsimmon, one of her father’s closest political allies.

Ellen O’Connell by John Gubbins (fl 1820s). OPW

Ellen Fitzsimon née O’Connell by Edward Hayes RHA (1797-1864)

Watercolour with gouache, c. 1850s/60s

Daniel O’Connell’s eldest daughter, Ellen (1805-1883) is shown here in middle age. Her husband, Christopher Fitzsimon, was one of her father’s closest political allies. She was well educated, spoke several languages, and enjoyed scholarly pursuits. In 1863 she published a volume of poetry entitled Darrynane in Eighteen Hundred and Thirty-Two and Other Poems

Ellen Fitzsimon née O’Connell by Edward Hayes RHA. OPW

Christopher Fitzsimon by Edward Hayes RHA (1797-1864)

Watercolour with gouache, c. 1850s/60s

This portrait is a companion piece to that of Ellen Fitzsimon, the sitters’s wife. Christopher Fitzsimon (1793-1856) of Glencullen House in Co. Wicklow was a landowner and barrister. He was a close friend and son-in-law of Daniel O’Connell. He served as M.P. for Dublin from 1832-7 and held the position of Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper between 1837-56.  

Christopher Fitzsimon by Edward Hayes, RHA. OPW.

Christopher O’Connell Fitzsimon (artist unknown) 

Pencil sketch, 1847

Christopher O’Connell Fitzsimon (1830-80) was the eldest surviving son of Ellen and Christopher Fitzsimon, and the grandson of Daniel O’Connell. He qualified as a barrister and served as a Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of County Dublin. 

Donated by Christopher Fitzsimon. 


Christopher O'Connell Fitzsimon. OPW.

Eily Bianconi Hayes née Fitzsimon (artist unknown)

Watercolour, 1862

Eily Fitzsimon (1838-1919) was the daughter of Ellen and Christopher Fitzsimon, and grand-daughter of Daniel O’Connell. She married Charles Bianconi, son of the famous nineteenth-century entrepreneur of the same name, in 1859. Their marriage was short lived as Charles Bianconi Junior died in Holyhead just five years later. Eily married a second time in 1867 to Patrick Hayes, a relation of her first husband. 

Donated by Christopher Fitzsimon.


Eily Bianconi Hayes née Fitzsimon (artist unknown) Watercolour, 1862. OPW.

You can also read a full biography of Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator.