24 August 19

A death mask of Daniel O’ Connell, regarded as one the great figures of modern Irish history, was presented to the Office of Public Works (OPW) today by the Countess of Dunraven at Derrynane House, the family home of O’ Connell. The presentation of the death mask, which has been in the custodianship of the Dunraven family for over 160 years, was made at the Daniel O’ Connell Summer School which is taking place in Derrynane House today.

O'Connell died in 1847 in Genoa, Italy, while on a pilgrimage to Rome at the age of 71. At the time of O’Connell’s death, it was not uncommon that a death mask would be made of a person’s face. Death masks were often used as a reference by sculptors and artists when creating busts and paintings and are also highly valued in their own right.

The Earl of Dunraven was a title in the peerage of Ireland created in 1822. The Dunraven and O’Connell families have a strong connection over many generations and it is believed the mask came into the care of the family over 160 years ago.

Derrynane House, the family home of O’ Connell, is now dedicated to his life and achievements, under the care of the OPW. Following any restoration or conservation works required to the mask, the OPW will place the mask on public display at Derrynane House, where it will join a large and rich collection of items relating to O’ Connell’s life.

Mr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief said “As the custodians of Derrynane House and on behalf of the Irish State, the OPW is honoured and delighted to accept this generous gift from Countess Dunraven.”

Accepting the mask on behalf of the OPW, Chairman of the OPW Maurice Buckley said “Derrynane House was one of the great influences on Daniel O’ Connell’s life, it was his childhood home and later his country residence. Today Derrynane House is much more than a museum, it is a space that tells the story, from the cradle to the grave of the Liberator. This mask will be an incredibly valuable addition to the collection here and we look forward to making it central to the collection.”