O'CONNELL was derived from the Gaelic O'Conaill. One of the most powerful Kerry septs. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Darrinane Abbey, Co. Kerry, descended from Daniel O'Connell Esq. of Aghavore in the barony of Iveragh. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847) was the Irish political leader, called 'the liberator', born near Cahirciveen, County Kerry. He was called to the Irish bar in 1798 and built up a highly successful practice. Leader of the Catholic Association which he formed in 1823, fought elections against the landlords, and won. He was elected MP for Clare in 1828, but was prevented as a Catholic from taking the seat. In 1830 the potato crop was very poor, and under O'Connell's advice the people declined to pay tithes, and that winter disorder was rampant everywhere. In 1841 he lost his seat at Dublin, but found another at Cork, and in November of that year he was elected lord mayor of Dublin. Early in 1844, with his son and five of his chief supporters he was imprisoned and fined for conspiracy to raise sedition. The House of Lords set aside the verdict on 4th September, but for 14 weeks O'Connell lay in prison. Next followed the potato famine, and a broken man he left Ireland for the last time in January 1847 and died in Genoa on his way to Rome.
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