Saturday, 1 November 2014

The O’Connell Monument Fund and our ancestors

Peter Radcliffe, Contribution to the O’Connell monument, Dublin
Daniel O’Connell Monument, 
O’Connell Street, Dublin
In January 1863, Peter Ratcliffe of Malahide contributed two shillings towards the erection of the O’Connell monument in Dublin, and his name was printed in the newspaper.  This was probably my great-great-great-great-grandfather, born about 1797. He lived in Yellow Walls, Malahide, Co. Dublin until his death in 1887. Else, it was his son, also Peter (1833-1891), who was my great-great-great-granduncle. 

The public appeal for funds to erect a memorial to Daniel O'Connell, the Catholic Emancipator, was first advertised in the Freeman’s Journal in September 1862. Monies were collected from all over Ireland, as well as abroad. As was typical of the Victorian era, they even wrote a report about their endeavours. The Report of the O'Connell Monument Committee, was published in 1888 and is now freely available online.

A subsequent search of the Report for the period in early January 1863 revealed that Peter's two shilling donation was recorded there too, with his surname given as the more usual nineteenth-century variant, Radcliffe. The report provides a complete history of the origin and erection of the O’Connell monument in Dublin’s O’Connell Street. It also contains an appendix, listing, by location, all the subscribers to the monument fund, in chronological order, from September 1862 to July 1880. Thousands of names, addresses and sometimes occupations are listed  – a true Irish census substitute.

Malahide Subscriptions, O’Connell Monument Fund
The Report of the O'Connell Monument Committee (Dublin, 1888)

Names of the Malahide Subscribers to the O’Connell Memorial Fund, January 1863:
M. S. Hussey, Esq.; Rev. J. Gaffney, C.C.; Mrs. Davis; Mr. Thomas Gaffney; Mr. J. Archibald; Mr. John Gaffney; Mr. John Kindelan; Mr. Pat Gaffney; Captain Begg; Mr. Thomas Reynolds; Mr. Joseph Seaver; Mr. John Tierney; Mr. James Cave; Mr. Walter Cave; Mr. Peter Radcliffe; Mr. Richard Owens.

So, next time you walk by the O'Connell statue, you can think of Peter Radcliffe and our other ancestors from Malahide, whose contributions are included in the small sums amount of eighteen shillings and ten pence, and all our ancestors from across Ireland who contributed their pennies towards the cost of the monument. 

Sources: Freeman’s Journal, 3 January 1863; John O’Hanlon, The Report of the O'Connell Monument Committee (Dublin, 1888), p. 70.

© 2014 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. I'm going to do that someday Dara!

  2. Looking forward to your visit, Ellie.

  3. How gratifying to find your ancestor on the list.

    1. Thanks Wendy, luckily for me, Peter Radcliffe seems to have left a larger footprint than most in the available records.

  4. That's a unique resource for locating an ancestor. Great sleuthing!

    1. Thanks Colleen. It is a great resource; I’m very thankful for the Internet Archive website.


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