Dan Donnelly (1788-1820).
Pugilistica II (1880). Copyright British Library Board. All Rights Reserved, B22.b.19.

‘[Donnelly] is a carpenter by profession, and was born in Towshend-street, Dublin’, but the encomiastic treatment in an earlier profile bestows the Irish champion with a presence worthy of a Norse god: ‘The blows of DONNELLY are described as terrific and appalling, and in their operation are more like the ponderosity of a sledge hammer’. (Boxiana II, 1818)

Irish pugilists were sometimes viewed with an animosity that also betrayed fear of their fighting qualities. Egan underscores the overwhelming combination of resentment and interest when reporting Donnelly’s contest with Tom Oliver [July 1819]: ‘English amateurs viewed him as a powerful opponent; and […] jealous for the reputation of the “Prize Ring”, clenched their fists […] whenever his growing fame was chaunted’. (Boxiana III, 1821)