Daniel O’Connell was born on Sunday 6th August 1775 at Carhan just outside Cahersiveen to Morgan and Catherine Mullane, their second child, a brother to Mary, 3 years his senior.
He was born into a once wealthy Catholic family who had been disposed of their lands and wealth over the years. Up to the age of 5 young Daniel was brought up by the Moran’s of Teeromoyle, his father’s cowman who spoke only Gaelic. While he was there Daniel learnt how to catch birds to supplement the diet and he also learnt how the mind of a rural person worked. This knowledge was to serve him well later in life. Daniel was also taught how to ride a pony by the Moran’s practically before he could even walk.
At the age of 5 Daniel was returned home where his parents employed a ‘hedge school’ teacher called David Mahoney. He learnt to read and write in English quickly and it is said that he learnt the alphabet in one hour. Daniel was bilingual at home speaking English with the family and Gaelic with the servants.
Daniel’s father Morgan was a smuggler, farmer and shopkeeper. Daniel’s uncle, Maurice ‘Hunting Cap’ O’Connell was the undisputed king of the area and took young Daniel under his patronage as he had no family of his own. He lived in Derrynane and much of Daniel’s time up to the age of 16 was spent there.
Hunting Cap educated young Daniel but by the time Daniel was in his mid-teens Hunting Cap realised that he would need more education for Daniel to realise his full potential.
It seems that Daniel’s early years were very happy years with him having an easy going nature with other people especially the uneducated rural people. He found it easy to learn languages being fluent in both English and Gaelic by his mid-teens.