ABOUT O’CONNELL HOUSE
O’Connell House is the heart of the Notre Dame community in Ireland and home to the Keough Naughton Notre Dame Centre which hosts a range of academic programmes for the University of Notre Dame. The house was acquired by Notre Dame in 2002 and was sensitively remodelled to meet the academic, programmatic and administrative needs of Notre Dame in Ireland while maintaining its historic integrity. O’Connell House was officially opened in 2004 by President Mary McAleese. We envisage O’Connell House and its staff as an embassy and a home away from home for everyone affiliated with the University of Notre Dame and visiting Ireland – students, alums, faculty, staff, and benefactors. This historic Georgian house serves as a beacon of hospitality and in keeping with the Irish spirit of generosity our staff are always present to provide a genuine Irish welcome. Céad Míle Fáilte.
HISTORY OF THE HOUSE
O’Connell House is located on the southeast corner of Merrion Square, a neoclassical eighteenth-century setpiece laid out from 1762 onwards by the Fitzwilliam estate under the management of Barbara Verschoyle. This architectural feat was planned with a high degree of design cohesion, using precise lease specifications to maintain the elegance and coherence of the streetscape. O’Connell House occupies number 58, a three-bay, four-storey-over-basement redbrick building with the fine light-filled reception rooms characteristic of late eighteenth-century Dublin Georgian buildings. 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.
This Georgian house was home to the famous early nineteenth century Irish Catholic political leader, Daniel O’Connell, from 1809 until his death in 1847. Famously known as ‘The Liberator’, O’Connell was 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. 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, and was used for business and residential purposes from 1936 onwards. Famous residents after O’Connell included the boxer ‘Gorgeous’ Jack Doyle and the Mexican film star Movita.