About O'Connell House
O’Connell House is characteristic of late eighteenth-century Dublin Georgian buildings. Under the auspices of the Fitzwilliam estate, Merrion Square was laid out from 1762 onwards in a neoclassical style modelled on the great Parisian squares. This architectural set piece was planned with a high degree of architectural cohesion, using precise lease specifications to maintain the elegance and coherence of the streetscape. Merrion Square was largely completed under the management of Barbara Verschoyle and is one of the very few eighteenth-century set-pieces anywhere in the world to feature a prominent female. Number 58, a three-bay, four-storey-over-basement redbrick building, has fine light-filled reception rooms on the ground and first floors. Georgian architecture is emphasised by restrained deployment of proportion and balance; mathematical ratios determined the height of a window in relation to its width, or the shape of a room as a double cube. Adherence to the classical rules of symmetry and simplicity are well exemplified in the O’Connell House. The house itself dates from the 1790s. This Georgian house was home to the famous early nineteenth century Irish Catholic political leader, Daniel O’Connell, for most of his life.
Daniel O’Connell, famously known as ‘The Liberator’, a leader in the battle for Catholic Emancipation and instrumental in the 1829 law which allowed Irish Catholics to sit in Parliament and hold high office, purchased Number 58 (formerly 30) on the south side of the square in 1809 and lived here until his death in 1847. It was a bold move by a rising Catholic to acquire a house at the heart of establishment Dublin. Because O’Connell devoted his professional career to unremunerative politics, his family after his death was forced to sell off the furniture, and then the house itself in 1853. It passed into professional (mainly medical) use for almost a century. It was used for business and residential purposes from 1936 onwards. Famous residents included the boxer ‘Gorgeous’ Jack Doyle and the Mexican film star Movita.
Notre Dame acquired the house in 2002 trading one historic building for another, moving offices from Newman House, Stephen’s Green to O’Connell House, Number 58, Merrion Square. Notre Dame restored the building sensitively to meet the academic, programmatic and administrative needs of Notre Dame in Ireland. O’Connell House was officially opened in 2004 by President Mary McAleese.
This historic Georgian house serves as a beacon of hospitality and in keeping with the Irish spirit of generousity our staff are always present to provide a genuine Irish welcome. Céad Míle Fáilte.
Saint Patrick’s Chapel
Saint Patrick’s Chapel is the quiet heart of the O’Connell House. It’s dominant feature is the magnificent stained glass window based on an unexecuted drawing from the Harry Clarke studio. The chapel also has a fine copy of a medieval book plaque by the sculptor Colm Brennan, and calligraphy by Tim O’Neill.
The treasures of the library include an outstanding collection of the works of Seamus Heaney, including many rare broadsheets, Jane Bown’s iconic photograph of Samuel Beckett, an original sketch of W. B. Yeats and a portrait of the dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan.