William Joseph Daunt O’Neill

Life
1807-1894; [freq. cited as O’Neill Daunt; pseud. ‘Denis Ignatius Moriarty’]; b. 28 April 1807, Tullamore, Co. Offaly; converted to Catholicism, 1827; life-long supporter of the O’Connell’s Repeal Association, but close friend of Charles Gavan Duffy; Repeal MP Mallow, 1832; supported Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; salaried sec. of Home Government Association, acting as intermediary with Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin; six novels set in Ireland incl. The Wife Hunter and Flora Douglas (1836), Inishfoyle Abbey [pseud. DIM] (3 vols. 1840); Saints and Sinners (1843), Hugh Talbot (1846); and Kilgarvan [q.d]; wrote Ireland under the Legislative Union (1843);

also issued Personal Recollections of the late Daniel O’Connell (1848); Ireland and her Agitators (1857); How the Union Robs Ireland (1873), and Eighty-Five Years of Irish History (1886); also posthum. A Life Spent for Ireland, being selections from the Journals of the Late W. J. O’Neill Daunt, ed. by His Daughter (1896); served as paid secretary to Home Govt. Assoc. at salary of £400, acting as intermediary with Archb. Paul Cullen; also, d. 29 June, 1894, at Kilcasan [vars. Kilashin; Kilcaskin], Co. Cork, to which he retired in 1874. JMC DIW DIH IF MKA RAF

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Works
Fiction, The Wife Hunter and Flora Douglas (Bentley, 1836), also issued as The Wife Hunter, by the Moriarty Family, ed. [pseud.] Denis Ignatius Moriarty (Philadelphia 1838); The Husband Hunter ... do. (1839); Innisfoyle [var. Inishfoyle] Abbey, a tale of modern times by D.I.M. (1840); Saints and Sinners (NY 1843); Hugh Talbot, a tale of the Irish confiscations of the 17th Century (1846); The Gentleman in Debt (1851).

Commentary, Ireland and Her Agitators (Dublin 1845); Letter [on] the Repeal of the Union (1846); Personal Recollections of ... O’Connell (1848); Catechism of the History of Ireland (1870); Eighty-five years of Irish History (1886); Essay on Ireland (1888); A Life Spent for Ireland, Being Selections from the Journals of the late W. J. O’Neill Daunt, ed. by his dg. [Alice I. O’N. Daunt] (1896) [facs. rep. 1979; var. 1972], x+xx+420pp.; port.

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Commentary
Sean O’Faolain, The Irish (1947), p.103: ‘A good example of these men was O’connell’s lietenant O’Neill Daunt whose autobiography, well-named A Life Spent for Ireland, loyally veils but does not conceal his distaste for O’Connell’s techniques. But just as it is quite evident that O’Neill Daunt could never have accomplished what O’Connell accomplished by his rumbustuous, indeed often, if not always, slightly vulgar, flamboyant defiance, his - call it if one wills tricky or even dishonest - methods of inflaming the people to the very edge of revolt, and in the Tithe War well beyond it, in short by his use of the rebel-mind in thought and action, so never once, I dare say, did any constitutionalist win one of those gradual reforms without the Rebel as the real force behind him.’ (p.103.); Further, O’Faolain quotes O’Neill’s ‘succinct’ diary-entry (12 Sept. 1865): ‘When the priests condemned fenianism in the confessional and refused the sacraments to persons connected with it many of the Fenian youths of Cork gave up going to confession to priests who had been educated at Maynooth; but some of them confessed to priests brought up in foreign seminaries.’ (O’Faolain, p.122); further, cites an entry from the diary of Sept. 1870 reporting a letter from T. D. Sullivan complaining about ‘the small number of priests who have heretofore joined the Home Rule Movement’).

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David Cairns & Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland, colonialism, nationalism and culture (Manchester 1988), regarding D. J. [sic] O’Neill Daunt, On the same page as Thomas Davis’s exhortation to ‘let no patriot Protestant come and go uncheered’, Daunt wrote an exposé of the Protestant proselytisers at Ventry, ‘These so-called “religious” societies, whose practical operation is to excite the bigoted anti-Catholic landlords to persecute their Catholic tenantry for conscience sake; to induce the starving, the miserable, and the destitute, to practise an external conformity with Protestantism for the sake of whatever they can get from the distributors of pious bribes; and finally to mar the union of all Irishmen for national purposes, by scattering among them religious dissension’; ‘We beg leave ... to protest against the supposition that there lurks in our [The Nation’s] liberal policy one iota of indifferentism. On the contrary, if religion be worth having at all it is worth living for and if necessary dying for.’ (W. J. O’Neill Daunt, The Nation, 13 May 1842).

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Tom Garvin, ‘O’Connell and Irish Political Culture’, in Daniel O’Connell, Political Pioneer, ed. Maurice R O’Connell (Inst. Publ. Relations 1991), pp.7-12, Garvin quotes as passage from W. J. O’Neill Daunt, Ireland and Her Agitators (Dublin 1845), pp.239-40, outlining the organisational basis of O’Connell’s Repeal Movement in the parishes. ‘.. the priest tells his guest the effective strength of the district, availing himself, in detail, of the local information possessed by the parishioners, or the neighbouring clergy, who have assembled at [the priest’s] house. It is then ascertained who will work; who will undertake the duty of Repeal Warden; who will collect the Repeal rent; and who will assume the charge of particular ploughlands, if in the country, or wards, if in the town. The obstacles are also canvassed; the hostility of Lord so-and-so or of Captain -, his agent, who swears he will eject every tenant who gives sixpence to any of O’Connell’s devices! ... The problem is speedily solved. What need Lord A or Squire B know about the tenants’ contributions?’ [11]

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D. George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland, London: Routledge 1982): William Joseph Daunt O’Neill deplored the ‘contemptible indifference’ of the Irish to their ‘ancient national language’ and, while accepting the need to learn English as a ‘utility measure’, he was disgusted when a young man or woman addressed in him in Irish answered “I don’t ondherstand Irish” or “I has no Irish”. (Life Spent for Ireland, pp.385, 391; here p.232.)

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References
Stephen Brown
, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919); The Wife Hunter and Flora Douglas (Bentley, 1836), The Husband Hunter; Innisfoyle Abbey (1840); Saints and Sinners, a controversial and satirical study of Ulster Protestants (NY 1843), Hugh Talbot [1846]; The Gentleman in Debt (1851); autobiography, A Life Spent for Ireland; convert to Catholicism and Repeal Assoc. colleague of O’Connell; Inisfoyle Abbey, novel dealing with the religious question from Catholic standpoint by ‘the author of several amusing novels’ (contemp. review); an Englishman, Howard, in Ireland whose prejudices are corrected in the light of a reality which includes the Rathcormac tithe massacre, and the restoration of the Abbey; Orange sayings and doings revealed in ludicrous and terrible light.

Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic University of America 1904) gives extracts from Eighty Five Years of Irish History (McCarthy, op. cit., pp.811-21 - available at Internet Archive - online.)

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Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), lists novels, The Wife Hunter, by the Moriarty Family, ed. [pseud.] Denis Ignatius Moriarty (Philadelphia 1838); The Husband Hunter ... do. (1839); Innisfoyle Abbey, a tale of modern times by D.I.M. (1840); Hugh Talbot, a tale of the Irish confiscations of the 17th c. (1846); The Gentleman in Debt (1851). Also A Life Spent for Ireland, Being selections from the journals of the late W. J. O’Neill Daunt, ed. by his dg. [Alice I. O’N. Daunt] (1896) [port.]

Library collections: Ulster Univ. Library holds A Life Spent for Ireland DA 952; Personal Recollections [...of O’Connell] (1868 [edn.]) DA 950; dates 1807-1894. Belfast Public Library holds Catechism of the History of Ireland (1870); Eighty-five years of Irish History (1886); Essay on Ireland (1888); Ireland and her Agitators (1845); Ireland Since the Union (1888); Letters &c (n.d.); A Life Spent for Ireland, selections from the journals (1896); Personal Recollections of ... O’Connell (1848). Belfast Linenhall Library holds Letter [on] the Repeal of the Union (1846).

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Quotations
Fellow landlords: ‘You should struggle to recover for yourselves and for your countrymen the exclusive control of your and their concerns, which for the last 46 years have been mismanaged by foreigners, always incompetent and often hostile. / It may be asked, why agitate Repeal at a period when our attention is engrossed by the heavy dispensation with which Providence afflicts the land? I answer - because the Union is essentially connected with all Irish distress, either as a cause or as an aggravation. It is the direct source of much of the evil that our country suffers; and it aggravates all evils that spring from other sources, by diminishing or annihilating our power of self-protection.’

Further asserted that in no self-governing country ‘do the sufferers in periods of scarcity experience from any portion of their fellow subjects, the heartless barbarity with which a part of the English press has treated the starving Irish population.’ (Oct. 8th 1846 , Times; cited in Brendan O Cathaoir, ‘Famine Diary’, 12.10.1996.)

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Act of Union (Jan. 1801): ‘The motive of the government was “an intolerance of Irish prosperity”. They hated Ireland with intense fierceness, from ancient national prejudice. Pitt also had his own peculiar quarrel with the Irish parliemant, from its opposition to his view on the regency question in 1789; and the growth of Ireland in happiness, in greatness, in prosperity, in domestic harmony, and consequent strength, was altogether insupportable to our jealous English foes [...].’ (Cathecism of the history of Ireland: ancient and Modern, Dublin 1844, p.133; quoted in James Kelly, ‘The Act of Union: its origin and background’, in Acts of Union: The Causes, Contexts and Consequences of the Act of Union, ed. Dáire Keogh & Kevin Whelan, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2001, p.46.)

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Notes
Anti-Irish Irish: O’Neill Daunt castigated the “anti-Irish Catholic landlord” as a “greater scourge than the Orange proprietor, who since suffling off his penal coil in 1829, has affected the courtier and fine gentleman […] (Quoted in Seán de Fréine, The Great Silence: the study of a relationship between language and nationality, Cork: Mercier 1978, p.79.)

Michael McCarthy (Nonconformist Treason, 1912), quotes W. J. D. O'Neill: ‘My own experience [...] coincides with that of every Irish Protestant who has thrown himself on the Catholic people’. McCarthy comments: ‘Irish Protestants, happily, are not prepared to row in Mr MacNeill’s galley.’ (MacNeill, Times, 16 Feb. 1912; McCarthy, p. 9; see supra.)

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