The World of Mary O’Connell 1778-1836
By: Erin I. Bishop
Publication Date: January 1999
The World of Mary O’Connell 1778-1836 by Erin I. Bishop
In 1800 Daniel O’Connell, a young Kerry barrister who had just made his first forays into national politics, began a clandestine correspondence with his distant cousin Mary O’Connell of Tralee. Two years later Daniel secretly married the dowerless Mary in Dublin, jeopardizing his inheritance and forging a bond that would last until Mary’s death in 1836. Husband and wife corresponded voluminously from the beginning of their courtship until Mary’s death, and over a thousand letters between them have survived.
The World of Mary O’Connell, based on examination of these letters and of Mary’s correspondence with other family members and friends, is more than a portrait of the Liberator’s wife. Through the life and letters of Mary O’Connell, Erin I. Bishop has produced a fascinating study of social and domestic life in Ireland in the early nineteenth century. In chapters dealing with love and marriage, motherhood, domesticity, family and kin, sickness and health, and religion Bishop paints both an intimate picture of the life of one woman and a panoramic view of a time and a social stratum – the Catholic middle class – that have hitherto received inadequate scholarly attention.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ERIN I. BISHOP received her doctorate in history from the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin, in 1997. She edited My Darling Danny: Letters from Mary O’Connell to Her Son Daniel, 1830-1832 (1998).