Moore Hall and the Moores of Moorehall

View of Moore Hall from the shores of Lough Carra
Facade of Moore Hall c. 1890
Original main entrance to Moore Hall
Photo: Averil Staunton
Close-up of plaque commenerating John Moore, President
Photo: Averil Staunton
Portrait of George Moore by Edouard Manet. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and cover for Adrian Grazier's book George Moore 1853-1933
Photo of cover of book
The famous race-horse Coranna. Ballinrobe Race Course have paid tribute to the Moore Family by calling one of their facilities after this famous horse.
Mary Blake of Ballinafad wife of George Henry Moore. The Blakes of Ballinafad and the Blakes of Towerhill (two miles from Moore Hall) were the two most successful junior branches of one of the "Twelve Tribes of Galway," the great merchant families of the city who from the fourteenth century traded with ports in Spain and France.
Entrance to family vault of the Moore Family
Photo: Averil Staunton
George Augustus Moore
Burial site of cremated remains of George Moore on Castle Island, Lough Carra

Built to enjoy the wonderful views over Lough Carra from Muckloon Hill, with some of Ballinrobe’s spires and towers visible in the early days, Moore Hall now stands as a stark reminder of our heritage.  It is approximately 5 miles from Ballinrobe out the Ballyglass Road just off what was once the main Ballinrobe-Castlebar Road.

Demesne and estate

After the Penal Laws were relaxed at the end of the 18th century, the building of Moore Hall started in 1792 and was initiated by George Moore (1729-1799).  It was designed by the architect John Roberts, who also designed Waterford Cathedral and was completed in 1795.

Oath of allegiance

Having taken an oath of allegiance to King George III, this entitled George Moore to lease land and the estate covered over a 12,000 acres.  In addition to the demesne the Moore’s owned lands in nearby Ballintubber, Partry and also further north in Mayo near Ashbrook.

According to Adrian Frazier in his book George Moore 1852-1933 the Moore family were originally English Protestants but some became Catholic when John Moore married Jane Lynch of the Catholic and well known Galway family.


Their son, George, married Katherine de Kilikelly (Kelly), an Irish-Spanish Catholic in 1765 and earned a fortune as a wine merchant in Alicante, Spain.   He was honoured by the ruling Spanish Aristocracy and invited to join the Spanish Royal Court c.1765. He also manufactured a very valuable commodity at the time – iodine and shipped seaweed from Galway for its manufacture.  This was possible, as he also owned a fleet of ships which regularly came into Galway.

John Moore

George Moore’s son, John Moore was educated in France and became a lawyer in both London and Dublin.  In 1798 when the rebellion began he returned to Mayo immediately.

President of Connacht

He was appointed President of the ‘Republic of Connacht’ by General Humbert, in Castlebar in 1798.  It was an honour he held for one week, before he was arrested by the English forces and sentenced to death. However, Spanish influence earned him a reprieve from the gallows in spite of the efforts of Denis Browne, the Irish Chief Justice, commonly known as (‘Soap the Rope’) and sentence was later commuted to deportation but, John Moore died in Waterford, en route to New Geneva on Dec. 6th, 1799.

John Moore could be recognised as Ireland’s first President.

George Henry Moore

George Henry (1810-1870) was educated at Oscott (a Catholic school in England – its museum was founded by Augustus Welby Pugin) and at Cambridge University.  From 1837 Pugin gave lectures here as Professor of Ecclesiastical Art and Architecture.

Horse racing

George Henry had a passionate interest in horses. His brother, Arthur Augustus, was killed after a fall from ‘Mickey Free’ in the 1845 Aintree Grand National.

Corunna a winner

In 1846 at the height of the famine, George entered a horse called Corunna for the Chester Gold Cup. Long odds and a betting coup netted Moore large winnings with the bulk of the winnings going towards settling his gambling debts.

However, he sent his mother £1,000, with instructions for its distribution, to alleviate the suffering of the poor in the area around Moore Hall.   £500 was to be used for relief works with the balance to be distributed as charity to the very poorest tenants.

Most of this money was used to great effect. It is said that no one died on the estate during the famine and no evictions were ever recorded.  He imported thousands of tons of grain to feed his tenants together with Lord Sligo and Sir R. Blosse Lynch* in June 1847.  The trio helped to finance the voyage of the Martha Washington.

He was subsequently elected M.P. for Mayo, heading the poll. On his death, his coffin was carried by sixteen tenants and was attended by a large number of the poor of Mayo (with few gentry attending). George Henry had died of a stroke on 19th April 1870 and was attended by Fr. Lavelle.  His family asked that no public ceremonial take place and that he be buried quietly in Kiltoom on the Moore Hall estate. During his life, O’Donovan Rossa and also the future Cardinal Newman were frequent visitors to Moore Hall.

A letter to his mother

There was a lot of correspondence between George Henry and his mother; her letters usually very plaintive and George’s always restrained. In 1833 George started a tour that covered Southern Russia, Turkey, Syria and Palestine and he left an interesting diary. The original was tragically burned in 1923 but much of it is contained in “An Irish Gentleman”.  The following is an excerpt from a letter to his mother from Chester, 6 May 1846:

My dearest Mother,

Corunna won the Chester Cup this day. We win the whole £17,000. This is in fact a little fortune. It will give me the means of being very useful to the poor this season. No tenant of mine shall want for plenty of everything this year, and though I shall expect work in return for hire, I shall take care that whatever work is done shall be for the exclusive benefit of the people themselves. I also wish to give a couple of hundred in mere charity to the poorest people about me or being on my estate, so as to make them more comfortable than they are; for instance, a cow to those who want one most, or something else to those who may have a cow, but want some other article of necessary comfort; indeed I will give £500 in this way. I am sure it will be well expended, and the horses will gallop all the faster with the blessing of the poor…..

George Augustus Moore

George Augustus (1852-1933) became a distinguished and noteworthy writer at the turn of the century. He was an associate of many of the French Impressionist artists (Zola as a writer) and portraits of Moore by Manet, Degas, Sir.William Orphen (1878–1931), Tonks and Yeats hang in galleries all over the world.  He had wanted to be a painter, and studied art in Paris during the 1870s.

In his early life he became friendly with the young Oscar Wilde who spent his summer holidays together with his family at nearby Moytura.    Oscar was to later quip of Moore: “He conducts his education in public”

He was always the centre of any artistic and cultural excitement, and enjoyed a sixty-year literary career of prolific writing as an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist with many publications to his credit.

Among the many literary visitors to Moore Hall were Cummins, St. John Gogarty, Osborne Lady Gregory, Russel, Hone, Martyn, Hyde, Maria Edgeworth, and W.B. Yeats.

His most important works include ‘Ester Waters’, ‘Hail and Farewell’, ‘The Lake’, ‘Confessions of a Young Man’ and ‘An t-Úrghort’.   He is as often regarded as the first great modern Irish novelist.

George Moore was involved with the setting up of the Abbey Theatre and The Gaelic league and is studied internationally as part of the Irish Literary Revival.

George’s ashes are interred in an urn, styled after a Bronze Age Greek of an original at the Nation Gallery, London.  They are located on Castle Island (referred to locally as Moore’s island) on Lough Carra, in view of Moore Hall and accessible by a five minute boat trip from the Moore Hall shore. A cairn of stones cover the urn with a Celtic Cross on a pediment beside it with the words:

George Moore

Born Moore Hall 1852 died 1833 London

He deserted his family and friends

For his Art

But because he was faithful to his Art

His family and Friends

Reclaimed his ashes for Ireland.

*Thomas Plunket, Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry and 2nd Baron Plunket purchased part of this Lynch Blosse property in 1852.

The Bishop also bought the Ballybanaun estate of the Moores of Moorehall sold in the Encumbered Estates’ Court in 1854. In the late 1850s he was involved in a very public dispute with Father Lavelle, the local parish priest, concerning proselytising activities on his estate


Comments about this page

  • Also es interesante la Historia de los Moore en Alicante,

    Un saludo, 20Moore

    By Juanfmolla (06/07/2014)
  • Great site. The Manet picture is of George Moore, the writer.

    I have a chapter on Moorehall and George Henry Moore in ‘That Irishman, the life and times of John O’Connor Power’ by Jane Stanford, Part One, A New Departure.

    I also have a blog

    By Jane Stanford (28/09/2012)

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