Dazzled by the personality and achievements of Daniel O'Connell ('The Liberator'), historians and biographers have paid little attention to the life and thought of his wife and children. As this collection of over fifty unpublished letters reveals, Mary O'Connell was a lively and intelligent observer of politics, as well as an affectionate but directive mother. In 1830, the year in which his father became the first Catholic in the House of Commons since the Reformation, fourteen-year-old Daniel jun. became a boarder in the Jesuit college at Clongowes Wood, Co. Kildare. Mary's letters provide a fascinating chronicle of the Repeal movement from the inside. They also illustrate the precepts of motherhood characteristic of educated middle-class Catholics, and indeed Protestants, of the early nineteenth century. With considerable skill and verve, Mary enjoined her youngest child to seek salvation, master social etiquette, and remain clean and healthy. The editor's introduction skilfully places the O'Connell family correspondence in both political and social contexts. The belated publication of these letters is a significant contribution to the study of gender and family life, as well as Irish nationalist politics.