Death mask of Daniel O’Connell presented to OPW

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The Countess of Dunraven presenting the death mask of Daniel O’Connell to Maurice Buckley, Chairman of the OPW. Picture. John Allen

THE Countess of Dunraven presented a death mask of Daniel O’Connell, one of the great Irish political figures, to the Office of Public Works (OPW) this week.

The presentation of the death mask, which has been in the custodianship of the Dunraven family for over 160 years, was made at Derrynane House in Caherdaniel, County Kerry, the family home of O’Connell.

The great Irish statesman 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.

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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.