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George Henry 
Moore
1811 - 1870


George Henry 
Moore
, Of Moore Hall, MP for co. Mayo. Catholic neighbour to his wife's family. George Moore, 1852-1933 By ADRIAN FRAZIER Yale University Press Following a brilliant career in school — he published Byronic poems in the London and Dublin Magazine when he was sixteen years old - G. H. Moore went to Cambridge University. There he played billiards and bet on horses. His watchful mother withdrew him from university; he then took to women. She was worried he would marry a Protestant, and he was worried he would have to marry a woman who was Catholic, but poor; Catholic but dirty, or ignorant, or ugly. Mrs Moore was advised on her son's future by her friend, the aging novelist Maria Edgeworth, who conspired with her to turn him again to the path of science and letters. Eventually the two women succeeded in getting G. H. Moore to agree to travel abroad, and the boy after some shifts and dodges finally tore himself away from his mistress, a married woman he met at Bath, and headed for Russia in 1834. It was three years before he was back in England. In the meantime he had been to Russia, Syria, and Palestine, where he mounted an expedition to explore the Dead Sea, only the third British traveler to do so. When G. H. Moore got back to England, he spirited his brother Augustus from Cambridge and a promising career as a mathematician. The two developed a passion for horses, and within a few years had, against the wishes of their mother (her youngest son had already been killed by a fall from a horse), set up a racing stable at Moore Hall. They became known as two of the most daring riders of the West of Ireland, with George Henry gaining the name of "Wolfdog" Moore after one of his horses. The brothers had begun to run with bucks in the fast aristocratic crowd, such as Lord Waterford, who on a wager set up a gate inside Curraghmore House, and, mounted on his hunter, leapt it by candlelight. The two Moore brothers were bold even by this measure of hard-riding country gentlemen. They would, for instance, on a bet take their horses over a six-foot iron-spiked gate, or engage in "pounding contests" — that is, matches between two horses, taken to ever more difficult places, rock walls on a hill, walls falling away toward a stream, etc., until one horse either fell or its rider resigned the challenge. In racing, the brothers astonished other jockeys by riding fast right up to the big fences, without pausing to let their horse gather itself before the jump. In 1843 and 1845, George Henry Moore won the Irish Gold Whip by his hard riding; in 1846, he won the English Whip. However, Augustus Moore was killed in a fall while riding Micky Free in the Liverpool in March 1845. George Henry Moore continued to race, and in May 1846 his horse Corranna won the Chester Cup and £17,000. However, his own nearly fatal falls and his brother's death caused him thereafter to turn away from the track. He was by this time moved by the terrible spectacle of the Famine as it swept across County Mayo. The potato crop first failed in September 1845, and famine did not relent until 1849. G. H. Moore rejoiced that the victory in the Chester Cup had given him the means to be useful to the poor in the first year of suffering. He set aside £1,000 of his winnings — £500 for work projects, £500 for direct charity. He also entered a by-election at this time on the side of the landlord interest and opposing Joe MacDonnell, an epic drinker known as "the Twenty Tumbler Man." MacDonnell was an O'Connellite candidate in favor of repeal of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. "Wolfdog" Moore was well known as a jockey, but as little else. His speeches revealed his landlord hostility to the popular cause of Repeal, and he lost. Instead, in late 1846 he became Chairman of two relief committees to dispense aid to famine victims, and this experience radicalised Moore. By January 1847, not yet himself an MP, he was one of the proposers Of an Irish convention at which Irish MPs of all parties were sworn to a pledge to end party strife and work together in the interests of Ireland. This independent parliamentary opposition — called "The Irish Brigade" — saw its ranks reduced rapidly by the co-optation of leaders like John Sadleir into government appointments. Nonetheless, in the course of the short unhappy life of the Irish Brigade, G. H. Moore emerged as a unique figure on the political scene, a radical, patriotic, Catholic landlord. When an election was called in 1847, Moore garnered the votes of many in the popular party (nominally in favor of repeal of the Act of Union), without losing the support of the landlords, and he won by a large margin over three Repealers. Moore spent the next five years in Parliament, and he made a name for himself quickly as an orator good for column inches in the daily papers. He developed his style of address from the highly formalised habits of addressing a challenge to a gentleman with whom you wish to have a duel, a form of correspondence in which the Moore brothers excelled. Between the track, the mortgages, the Church of Rome, and Mother Ireland, there were plenty of opportunities for an Irish Catholic gentleman to feel his honor had been insulted, and to demand satisfaction. The form involves addressing the friend whom the man you wish to challenge has chosen for his second, making reference to previous correspondence, to the rules of affairs of honor, to the facts of the case under dispute (all this part politely legalistic), and then proceeding to calling your enemy a liar, a cheat, and a thief, before signing off in the most courteous of manners. Shots were never fired, with the exception of verbal shots: the letters were always published subsequently, so one's style had to be rapier, pistol, and club. By invective, however, Moore kept up the family reputation passed down through a local Mayo saying, "Scratch a Moore and your own blood will flow." The other influence on Moore's oratory was his background as a poet; he could quote brilliantly, and with a kind of cruel aptitude. In the election of 1868, when he ran against the landlord interest and without the support of an English party, he told the electors a story of an old ballad about the dragon of Wantley, which devoured the people and knocked down their houses, until "Moore of Moore Hall/With nothing at all/Slew the dragon of Wantley." He went out to duel with the dragon without a sword or shield, just covered all over in spikes, but he knew that the dragon was vulnerable in one spot, and "it was not before." So when the dragon jumped him, the bristling champion gave him a kick in the behind with the spike on his boot, and that is how "Moore of Moore Hall/With nothing at all/Slew the dragon of Wantley." Moore's point, of course, was that the dragon of old legend was now landlordism, and he was the champion without the sword of class or party interest. But one can also note that he chose a fitting image for himself, going out in a duel of honor, armed all over with spikes of witty invective and a specialised knowledge of insult. In an era in which public speaking was a main spectator sport and the chief art of power, Moore was a champion gladiator, not someone with whom any politician would want to get into the ring: he would tear your character to pieces while the crowd laughed at the joy, and the sheer brilliance of belligerence, with which he went about his work. It was lamented after his death that, while he did have a terrific tongue, he did not use it only on the English; if his own cohorts strayed from the path of honor, he was quick to become the most terrible of enemies. His pugnacity and inability to trust his friends, as Joseph Hone remarks, were qualities inherited in some degree by his eldest son; so were his powers of invective. In terms of the political positions he took, his biographer and son, Maurice Moore, would like to claim that George Henry Moore was a Parnell before Parnell, certainly an Isaac Butt before Isaac Butt. And it is true that, like these men, he worked early, brilliantly, and for a short time successfully to create a disciplined independent Irish party in Westminister that would hold the balance of power between Tories, Whigs, and Liberals, and shift its influence from one to the other in order to gain advances for Ireland. It gave a lasting twist to his political character that his cohorts in organising the Irish Brigade were corrupted by offers of ministerial positions by the party in power, and that Cardinal Cullen accepted this result with prelatical satisfaction, and simply tried to funnel the patronage to Catholics. Moore was also one of the first Irish MPs to support the Tenant League, organised to secure fair rents and fixity of tenure for tenants after the Famine. However, both these stands hurt him at the polls. By defending Catholics, he lost the Protestant vote; by defending tenants, he alienated his fellow landlords. In the 1857 election, though he had on his side Archbishop MacHale, a raft of enthusiastic priests, and the majority of votes, Moore was turned out of office on a charge of vote corruption, and he left bitterly, if courteously. Nothing good, he felt, could be done in Parliament: the Irish members were there just to shop their integrity about for a price. In 1851, George Henry Moore made the sort of match that his mother had feared he would never make. He married Mary Blake, the twenty-three-year-old daughter of Maurice Blake of Ballinafad, Balla, County Mayo. Her mother, Anne Lynch Blake, was the daughter and heir of Marcus Lynch and Maria Blake, eldest daughter of Isidore Blake of Towerhill. 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. The senior branch, that of Sir Valentine Blake of Menlough Castle, Galway, declined from its eminence in the sixteenth century, while the Towerhill and Ballinafad branches increased their wealth by intermarriage with other members of the "Tribes" (such as the Lynches and the Brownes), as well as between the different branches of the Blake tribe itself (as in the case of Mary Blake Moore's mother and father). The Blakes of Ballinafad were a Catholic family, but they conformed strategically to the Protestant Church of Ireland during key periods of the Penal Laws, and also entered into marriages with Protestant families. In these ways, they managed both to preserve and enlarge their estates through the period in the eighteenth century when there were severe obstacles in the way of Catholics owning land. By the mid-nineteenth century, Maurice Blake of Ballinafad was a wealthy man of large estates. He had ten children; Mary was the eldest of the five girls. For her marriage to George Henry Moore, Catholic neighbor of the Blakes of Towerhill, Maurice Blake of Ballinafad provided his daughter Mary with a dowry of £4,000. Other daughters married into other landed families in the West of Ireland: in 1854, Catherine married Arthur O'Connor of the Palace, Elphin, Roscommon; in 1858, Julia married G. E. Browne of Brownestown; in 1859, Victoria married Thomas ffrench. By his marriage to a Blake, George Henry Moore affiliated himself to a powerful network of tribes in the West of Ireland. His children would be related by marriage to the Brownes, Martyns, Lynches, ffrenches, O'Connors, and, of course, to the numerous branches of Blakes. On 15 April 1870, George Henry Moore, Member of Parliament for County Mayo, and father of the novelist suddenly left his family in London and took the mail train from London to Holyhead, the steamer to Kingstown, and another train west as far as Athenry, where, because the service on the northern line to Claremorris was closed for Good Friday, he took a post chaise thirty-five miles north and west, across the bog below the Partry Mountains, and around the upper end of Lough Carra, on the far shore of which stood Moore Hall, atop a wooded hill in the Barony of Carra, the south side of the parish of Ballyhean. Exhausted, he reentered the house in which he had been born, and he never saw his wife and five children again. Within five days of leaving them, he was dead in his own bed. It was not sickness from overwork that brought him home, or the need to consult local leaders before he introduced a Home Rule bill, as papers reported at the time. Forty years later, the real story behind his return was revealed by his son Maurice in George Henry Moore: An Irish Gentleman. A few months before his journey west, Moore had been forwarded a communication circulated by a Ribbon society to the tenants of an outlying Ballintubber estate of his 12,481 acre property, a little note in red ink: IMPORTANT Notice is hereby given that any person who pays rents to landlords, agents, or bailiffs above that of ordnance valuation will at his peril mark the consequences. By order, Rory Ribbonmen were local agrarian societies in Ireland, bound by secret oath, linked into lodges from one locale to another, and often anti-Protestant. Sometimes, they used the tactics of crop-burning, cattle-maiming, and assassination to resist evictions, tithes, high rents, and other sorrows of the tenant's life. George Henry Moore, however, had a record as a model landlord. He played a role in Parliament in ending the privileged position of the tithing Protestant Church in largely Catholic Ireland; he had never evicted tenants in order to turn his property over to graziers as his cousin Lord Sligo had done; and indeed he had recently been reelected to Parliament as the candidate of the tenants. By rights, he ought to have been the last man to have been targeted by Ribbonmen. When he received the note from the Ballintubber Ribbonmen, he concluded that they were simply out to blackmail him, making use of his awkward position as a landlord against landlordism, and as a rich Catholic living on the rents of poor Catholics. Moore's first step, and a well-calculated one, was to write to Father Patrick Lavelle on 4 February 1870, sending him a copy of the note with a request that he intercede. Father Lavelle was the parish priest at Cong, sixteen miles south of Ballintubber. He was a perfect go-between for the Catholic nationalist landlord and the Ribbonmen in many ways. Father Lavelle published a volume in 1870 attacking landlordism, and he supported the Irish Republican Brotherhood, originally the armed wing of the Fenians. Moore had worked with Lavelle earlier in political causes, as both were protβegβes of Archbishop John MacHale, the most nationalist of prelates, and enemies of Cardinal Paul Cullen, who had tried to keep the priests out of independent opposition politics and to bring the Irish Church under the control of Rome. To Father Lavelle, Moore wrote that just because as an MP he was in favor of tenants' rights did not mean he was going to surrender his rights as a landlord. He would not be intimidated; without flinching, he would evict every tenant who did not pay rent. He would quit Parliament right away if necessary, and live again at Moore Hall in order to keep his estate together. So the Ballintubber cottiers were caught between the threats of their landlord and those of the Ribbonmen. It would be an act of charity to the poor, Moore wrote, if Father Lavelle would intervene. That was in early February 1870; during March, George Henry Moore paradoxically spoke up in Parliament in support of tenant relief, just as he had pledged to do in the 1868 election. In the debate over the second reading of Gladstone's Landlord and Tenant Act, Moore explained that he would vote for the bill because it included the Three Fs (Fair rent, Fixity of tenure, and Free sale), but he regretted that the bill did not go farther: it should also have protected tenants against eviction by means of remorseless increase in rent, and he went on to attack landlords who clear their properties of tenants by driving out the old and the sick. It could have been mistakenly concluded from this speech upbraiding bad landlords that G. H. Moore was against landlordism as a whole. But he wasn't. Nor did threatening the hooded gangs of Ribbonmen who moved through his estate in the night mean that he was altogether against secret societies. It was apparently before the 1867 Fenian Rising that Moore had himself taken the Fenian oath from its chief, James Stephens, a risky step for any man, and especially for a landlord and politician. The Fenians were an armed revolutionary organisation that grew up among the Irish immigrant communities of the United States following the collapse of the Young Ireland movement in the 1840s. Membership in this outlawed society could have put Moore out of Parliament and into prison. In the week of 26 March Moore again rose in Parliament to give a defiant speech against Gladstone's new Coercion Bill, intended to suppress resurgent Fenianism. Moore had spoken on earlier occasions in defense of the rights of Fenian political prisoners, like O'Donovan Rossa and John O'Leary; he spoke of these men as patriotic heroes acting in a noble cause against unjust domination. How is it that he could at the same moment privately fight one secret organisation, the Ribbonmen, while standing up in Westminister to defend another, the Fenians? Perhaps he believed the local sense of outrage that fed the Ribbonmen, as well as the desire for political recognition of the new Catholic professional class, could both be channelled into a national, patriotic, and interdenominational organisation for an independent Irish parliament — his own vision of the Fenian organisation. His speech on the Coercion Bill therefore could reasonably both blame and taunt the British executive in Ireland: blame them for not stamping out Ribbonmen, and taunt them for failing to discover the Fenians. After the 1867 Fenian Rising, the British had filled the country with soldiers, he complained, and still assassins went about terrifying the people, while the Queen's regiments marched everywhere to no purpose except the annoyance of law-abiding Irishmen: "Thus far with victory their arms are crowned," his quotation began, and to the laughter of the opposition it ended, "For though they have not fought, yet have they found/No enemy to fight." In response, the Solicitor General quoted to Moore a letter the government had in its possession that was written by John Mitchell, "the leader of the Fenians"; it proposed that landlords should be shot. Moore, sidestepping the subject of landlord assassination, objected that Mitchell was not the leader of the Fenians. Well, his honorable friend knew better than he did, the Solicitor General retorted, gaining a laugh at Moore's expense. It was a laugh that exposed the untenable situation in which Moore found himself, a member of Parliament and yet a Fenian himself. Worse yet, though a Fenian, he was being attacked by another secret society. In Mayo, the Ribbonmen agitation continued. In the week of 19 March at the Mayo assizes, 189 outrages against persons and property were reported. From one to two hundred men were roaming the county visiting farmers and administering oaths. The County Inspector had discovered thirty-five cases of such intimidation in recent months. As soon as the Easter recess began, Moore made his last return to Ireland, arriving on Good Friday. On Saturday he arranged for a Monday trip with his agent, S. Nolan, to the Ballintubber estates and a Tuesday return visit by Father Lavelle to Moore Hall. Then he wrote his wife Mary Blake Moore that if she did not receive a telegram from him on Monday, she should prepare to come over to Ireland, as there would be a great deal to be done at Moore Hall. Apparently, he contemplated acting on his threat to leave Parliament and defend his rights as a landlord. On Sunday, he attended Easter Mass at the local church in Carnacun. But on Monday, he retired early to his bed, leaving a note for a visitor due that afternoon that he was too ill to see him. On Tuesday, 19 April, his servant failed to rouse him on the first call, and coming a second time with Moore's agent, still found him unconscious. A doctor, G. E. Barron, MB, was fetched from down the hill. Finding Moore breathing hoarsely and unable to speak, the doctor said, "Mr. Moore has an attack of apoplexy, such as statesmen very often get," and sent a rider for Dr. James Dillon Kelly from Ballinrobe. A little before two o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, the doctor pronounced G. H. Moore dead of apoplexy — that is, of a stroke. The Last Sacrament was administered by Father Lavelle. Mary Blake Moore and George, the oldest son and heir, came from London for the funeral, scheduled for Saturday, 23 April. As they passed through Ballinrobe, many of the businesses were closed out of respect for the dead Member of Parliament. At Moore Hall, there were two priests in the house to comfort them, Father Lavelle and another activist priest, Father Peter Conway. The grief of the son, the Freeman's Journal wrote, was "excessive in the extreme"; however, GM himself later recalled, again and again, that when he heard his uncle Joe Blake say that all was over, his father was dead, he tried to be sad, and wondered at the sorrow of his mother, but his soul said, I am glad. As she wailed, he sobbed, but inwardly he was shocked at the wickedness of his relief that his father would not return. Inside the house, the steward Joseph Apply led mother and son to the second-floor bedroom at the front of the house, in which George Henry Moore was laid out in the same bed in which his son had been born eighteen years earlier. When Apply was questioned by the anxious mother and son — had Moore shown signs of despair? met with strange men? taken any unusual medicines? made a last confession? — the steward could affirm nothing, but told over and over the mysterious details of the last days. Nothing seemed to explain why the master of the house now lay stretched out, his face under a white handkerchief. Mary Blake Moore, as GM reinvented the scene forty years later, had to have one last look, and snatched the handkerchief off, giving her son a final image to remain in his memory of his father's face, now terribly changed. By ten o'clock on Saturday, on the lawn reaching down to Lough Carra below Moore Hall, 400 tenants had assembled. They came from all over the 12,000 acres of the estate to mourn a landlord who, according to their folklore, saw to it during the Famine that no one on his estate died of starvation, though the Famine was nowhere worse than in County Mayo. The avenues were filled with vehicles of all sorts, from donkey-carts to carriages drawn by a team of horses. At eleven o'clock the door was opened, and the coffin of polished Irish oak was carried out to the hearse on the shoulders of eight of the tenantry, followed by the mourners. George Moore, as heir, came first as the chief mourner, leaning on the arm of Father Peter Conway. He was followed by Mary Blake Moore, two of her Blake brothers, Llewelyn and Joseph, and her brother-in-law George Browne of Brownestown, who were joined in the procession by Fathers Lavelle and Conway. Behind this party, in the march down the long serpentine drive through the wood below the garden, and out the Grand Gate, up the road then to the Carnacun chapel, came Archbishop MacHale, twelve parish priests, another dozen justices of the peace, Phillip Callan, MP, and Richard Pigott, the forger who twenty years later would attempt to destroy Parnell. Once in the chapel, George sat by his mother while a choir of priests sang dirges, and Reverend James Browne, PP, a high-shouldered man with a large hooked nose, told them that the dear departed had always gone to Mass, and death had no sting, the grave no victory. Then the coffin was carried back out of the chapel, along the road past the Grand Gate to the edge of Lough Carra, around the shoreline below Moore Hall, past the boathouse and pier, to the gateway of Kiltoom, less than a mile short of the racecourse where G. H. Moore's famous horses had trained. Once the party had arrived at the family burial ground, and the coffin had been lodged in the vault, Father Lavelle, though Father Browne pleaded with him not to do so, mounted on the tomb to deliver a terrific panegyric to the multitude, beginning, "God Save Ireland! Woe, woe is Ireland to-day! O my country, now mayest thou weep — weep scalding tears from your million eyes!" The full address was written up in several columns for the Freeman's Journal. 3 There was indeed a lot to be said of the life of G. H. Moore, as wonderful, the novelist reflected, as any in Balzac or Turgenev, and Father Lavelle was not the only one memorialising the sixty years of Moore of Moore Hall. In Dublin a great meeting was held the next day, which culminated in an oration by Isaac Butt on G. H. Moore as the most eloquent voice of Irish nationality. Papers in Liverpool, Manchester, and London also carried obituaries of a great intransigent enemy of the English, a man one paper wishfully called the last of the Irish Nationalists. In the family vault, George Henry Moore (1811-70) was laid next to his father George Moore the historian (1770-1840) and his grandfather George Moore of Alicante (1729-99); only a few places were left, one of them reserved for, but never to be occupied by, the fourth George Moore, the novelist (1852-1933). The Moores had originally been an English Protestant settler family, but turned Catholic when George Moore of Alicante's own father John Moore married Jane Lynch Athy from one of the principal Catholic families in Galway. Using her connections among the "Wild Geese," Irish Jacobite exiles in Spain, she helped her son get established in the wine import business in Alicante. There he changed his religion, and married in I765 Katherine de Kilikelly, an Irish Catholic raised in Spain. He made his fortune, returned to erect Moore Hall in 1792 above the shore of Lough Carra, and thus solidified the shift of the family from being New English settlers of Protestant faith to their nineteenth-century identity as Irish Catholic landlords who had never been humbled by the "Penal Laws" — that set of regulations aimed at limiting the property and power of Irish Catholics, and put in force after William of Orange routed James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1688. The change in the confessional identity of the Moore family, like the circumstances of G. H. Moore's death, is important to the story of George Moore. These matters would one day be the occasion of a quarrel about family history that broke up the surviving Moore brothers, saw Moore Hall become vacant, and scattered the last generation of Moores abroad. Of the four sons of George Moore of Alicante, the oldest was John Moore (1767-98), a scapegrace trained in Paris and London for the law, and for a few days in 1798 the first President of the Republic of Connaught. Aided by French invaders at Killala, John Moore participated in the surprise victory of General Humbert over a British garrison at Castlebar on 27 August 1798, assumed nominal leadership of the rebels, then got captured after the rout of the small Irish forces. President Moore died while under house arrest in a Waterford tavern. The second son of Moore of Alicante was a mild-tempered man, also named George Moore. A gentleman scholar rarely out of his library, he wrote histories of the English and French revolution, something in the manner of Gibbon. Moore the historian had three sons by Louisa Browne, the first being George Henry Moore, the only one of the three not to die by a fall from a horse. Following a brilliant career in school — he published Byronic poems in the London and Dublin Magazine when he was sixteen years old - G. H. Moore went to Cambridge University. There he played billiards and bet on horses. His watchful mother withdrew him from university; he then took to women. She was worried he would marry a Protestant, and he was worried he would have to marry a woman who was Catholic, but poor; Catholic but dirty, or ignorant, or ugly. Mrs Moore was advised on her son's future by her friend, the aging novelist Maria Edgeworth, who conspired with her to turn him again to the path of science and letters. Eventually the two women succeeded in getting G. H. Moore to agree to travel abroad, and the boy after some shifts and dodges finally tore himself away from his mistress, a married woman he met at Bath, and headed for Russia in 1834. It was three years before he was back in England. In the meantime he had been to Russia, Syria, and Palestine, where he mounted an expedition to explore the Dead Sea, only the third British traveler to do so. When G. H. Moore got back to England, he spirited his brother Augustus from Cambridge and a promising career as a mathematician. The two developed a passion for horses, and within a few years had, against the wishes of their mother (her youngest son had already been killed by a fall from a horse), set up a racing stable at Moore Hall. They became known as two of the most daring riders of the West of Ireland, with George Henry gaining the name of "Wolfdog" Moore after one of his horses. The brothers had begun to run with bucks in the fast aristocratic crowd, such as Lord Waterford, who on a wager set up a gate inside Curraghmore House, and, mounted on his hunter, leapt it by candlelight. The two Moore brothers were bold even by this measure of hard-riding country gentlemen. They would, for instance, on a bet take their horses over a six-foot iron-spiked gate, or engage in "pounding contests" — that is, matches between two horses, taken to ever more difficult places, rock walls on a hill, walls falling away toward a stream, etc., until one horse either fell or its rider resigned the challenge. In racing, the brothers astonished other jockeys by riding fast right up to the big fences, without pausing to let their horse gather itself before the jump. In 1843 and 1845, George Henry Moore won the Irish Gold Whip by his hard riding; in 1846, he won the English Whip. However, Augustus Moore was killed in a fall while riding Micky Free in the Liverpool in March 1845. George Henry Moore continued to race, and in May 1846 his horse Corranna won the Chester Cup and £17,000. However, his own nearly fatal falls and his brother's death caused him thereafter to turn away from the track. He was by this time moved by the terrible spectacle of the Famine as it swept across County Mayo. The potato crop first failed in September 1845, and famine did not relent until 1849. G. H. Moore rejoiced that the victory in the Chester Cup had given him the means to be useful to the poor in the first year of suffering. He set aside £1,000 of his winnings — £500 for work projects, £500 for direct charity. He also entered a by-election at this time on the side of the landlord interest and opposing Joe MacDonnell, an epic drinker known as "the Twenty Tumbler Man." MacDonnell was an O'Connellite candidate in favor of repeal of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. "Wolfdog" Moore was well known as a jockey, but as little else. His speeches revealed his landlord hostility to the popular cause of Repeal, and he lost. Instead, in late 1846 he became Chairman of two relief committees to dispense aid to famine victims, and this experience radicalised Moore. By January 1847, not yet himself an MP, he was one of the proposers Of an Irish convention at which Irish MPs of all parties were sworn to a pledge to end party strife and work together in the interests of Ireland. This independent parliamentary opposition — called "The Irish Brigade" — saw its ranks reduced rapidly by the co-optation of leaders like John Sadleir into government appointments. Nonetheless, in the course of the short unhappy life of the Irish Brigade, G. H. Moore emerged as a unique figure on the political scene, a radical, patriotic, Catholic landlord. When an election was called in 1847, Moore garnered the votes of many in the popular party (nominally in favor of repeal of the Act of Union), without losing the support of the landlords, and he won by a large margin over three Repealers. Moore spent the next five years in Parliament, and he made a name for himself quickly as an orator good for column inches in the daily papers. He developed his style of address from the highly formalised habits of addressing a challenge to a gentleman with whom you wish to have a duel, a form of correspondence in which the Moore brothers excelled. Between the track, the mortgages, the Church of Rome, and Mother Ireland, there were plenty of opportunities for an Irish Catholic gentleman to feel his honor had been insulted, and to demand satisfaction. The form involves addressing the friend whom the man you wish to challenge has chosen for his second, making reference to previous correspondence, to the rules of affairs of honor, to the facts of the case under dispute (all this part politely legalistic), and then proceeding to calling your enemy a liar, a cheat, and a thief, before signing off in the most courteous of manners. Shots were never fired, with the exception of verbal shots: the letters were always published subsequently, so one's style had to be rapier, pistol, and club. By invective, however, Moore kept up the family reputation passed down through a local Mayo saying, "Scratch a Moore and your own blood will flow." The other influence on Moore's oratory was his background as a poet; he could quote brilliantly, and with a kind of cruel aptitude. In the election of 1868, when he ran against the landlord interest and without the support of an English party, he told the electors a story of an old ballad about the dragon of Wantley, which devoured the people and knocked down their houses, until "Moore of Moore Hall/With nothing at all/Slew the dragon of Wantley." He went out to duel with the dragon without a sword or shield, just covered all over in spikes, but he knew that the dragon was vulnerable in one spot, and "it was not before." So when the dragon jumped him, the bristling champion gave him a kick in the behind with the spike on his boot, and that is how "Moore of Moore Hall/With nothing at all/Slew the dragon of Wantley." Moore's point, of course, was that the dragon of old legend was now landlordism, and he was the champion without the sword of class or party interest. But one can also note that he chose a fitting image for himself, going out in a duel of honor, armed all over with spikes of witty invective and a specialised knowledge of insult. In an era in which public speaking was a main spectator sport and the chief art of power, Moore was a champion gladiator, not someone with whom any politician would want to get into the ring: he would tear your character to pieces while the crowd laughed at the joy, and the sheer brilliance of belligerence, with which he went about his work. It was lamented after his death that, while he did have a terrific tongue, he did not use it only on the English; if his own cohorts strayed from the path of honor, he was quick to become the most terrible of enemies. His pugnacity and inability to trust his friends, as Joseph Hone remarks, were qualities inherited in some degree by his eldest son; so were his powers of invective. In terms of the political positions he took, his biographer and son, Maurice Moore, would like to claim that George Henry Moore was a Parnell before Parnell, certainly an Isaac Butt before Isaac Butt. And it is true that, like these men, he worked early, brilliantly, and for a short time successfully to create a disciplined independent Irish party in Westminister that would hold the balance of power between Tories, Whigs, and Liberals, and shift its influence from one to the other in order to gain advances for Ireland. It gave a lasting twist to his political character that his cohorts in organising the Irish Brigade were corrupted by offers of ministerial positions by the party in power, and that Cardinal Cullen accepted this result with prelatical satisfaction, and simply tried to funnel the patronage to Catholics. Moore was also one of the first Irish MPs to support the Tenant League, organised to secure fair rents and fixity of tenure for tenants after the Famine. However, both these stands hurt him at the polls. By defending Catholics, he lost the Protestant vote; by defending tenants, he alienated his fellow landlords. In the 1857 election, though he had on his side Archbishop MacHale, a raft of enthusiastic priests, and the majority of votes, Moore was turned out of office on a charge of vote corruption, and he left bitterly, if courteously. Nothing good, he felt, could be done in Parliament: the Irish members were there just to shop their integrity about for a price. In 1851, George Henry Moore made the sort of match that his mother had feared he would never make. He married Mary Blake, the twenty-three-year-old daughter of Maurice Blake of Ballinafad, Balla, County Mayo. Her mother, Anne Lynch Blake, was the daughter and heir of Marcus Lynch and Maria Blake, eldest daughter of Isidore Blake of Towerhill. 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. The senior branch, that of Sir Valentine Blake of Menlough Castle, Galway, declined from its eminence in the sixteenth century, while the Towerhill and Ballinafad branches increased their wealth by intermarriage with other members of the "Tribes" (such as the Lynches and the Brownes), as well as between the different branches of the Blake tribe itself (as in the case of Mary Blake Moore's mother and father). The Blakes of Ballinafad were a Catholic family, but they conformed strategically to the Protestant Church of Ireland during key periods of the Penal Laws, and also entered into marriages with Protestant families. In these ways, they managed both to preserve and enlarge their estates through the period in the eighteenth century when there were severe obstacles in the way of Catholics owning land. By the mid-nineteenth century, Maurice Blake of Ballinafad was a wealthy man of large estates. He had ten children; Mary was the eldest of the five girls. For her marriage to George Henry Moore, Catholic neighbor of the Blakes of Towerhill, Maurice Blake of Ballinafad provided his daughter Mary with a dowry of £4,000. Other daughters married into other landed families in the West of Ireland: in 1854, Catherine married Arthur O'Connor of the Palace, Elphin, Roscommon; in 1858, Julia married G. E. Browne of Brownestown; in 1859, Victoria married Thomas ffrench. By his marriage to a Blake, George Henry Moore affiliated himself to a powerful network of tribes in the West of Ireland. His children would be related by marriage to the Brownes, Martyns, Lynches, ffrenches, O'Connors, and, of course, to the numerous branches of Blakes. As first George (1852), then Maurice (1854), Augustus (1856), Nina (1858), and Julian (1867) were born, G. H. Moore turned his attentions again to Moore Hall and to horse-breeding. By 1861, he had a horse that could win any race, Croaghpatrick, and along with his wife and eldest son, he took the racehorse over to England for the season, leaving the boy at Cliff's racing stables at the time of the Goodwood races, won by Croaghpatrick, and the Chesterfield Cup, also won by his champion. Having restored his fortunes by the track, G. H. Moore then frittered them away on the track, and he was no longer a comfortably rich landlord when he saw a new political opportunity in Ireland after the 1867 Fenian Rising. In the 1868 election, working again in close federation with Archbishop MacHale, he drew the priest into politics in a new way. Formerly, landlords drove their tenants to the polls in herds, and made them take the consequences if they did not vote according to the landlord's wishes; now the priests were taking an equally strong hand with their parishioners. Moore was running with the support of the nationalist clergy, but also against the dragon of landlordism. On the hustings, he spoke of a landlord who evicted one of his own tenants for going against him at the poll: "The only difference ... between Mr. H. de Burgh and the greater part of the landlords in Mayo is, that he has the imbecile manliness to acknowledge what they have the wise cowardice to conceal." The flamboyance of candidate Moore's mob oratory against his own class led even his closest friend, Lord Sligo, to break with him. But he was back in Parliament, to fight for the Tenant League and the Fenian prisoners until the month of his death.

Born: 1811Baptised:
Died: 19th Apr 1870Buried: 23rd Apr 1870
Family:
Moore

Ancestors
[ Patrilineage | Matrilineage | Earliest Ancestors | Force | Options ]

1.
George Henry 
Moore
(
Blake
) 1811 - 1870
2.
George 
Moore
(
Browne
) 1770 - 1840
4.
George 
Moore
(
de Kilikelly
) 1729 - 1799
5.
3.
Louisa 
Browne
(
Moore
) post 1771 - post 1808
6.
John 
Browne
(
Cocks
,
Gilker
) post 1729 - 1798
7.
Rosalinda 
Gilker
(
Browne
) + 1812

Siblings


1.
M/? 
Moore
+ ante 1836
2.
Augustus 
Moore
+ 1845

Spouses



1. 1851
Mary 
Blake
(
Moore
) 1827 - post 1870

Descendants
[ Options ]

a.
Mary 
Blake
(
Moore
) 1827 - post 1870
1.
George 
Moore
1852 - 1933
2.
Maurice 
Moore
* 1854
3.
Augustus 
Moore
* 1856
4.
Nina 
Moore
* 1858
5.
Julian 
Moore
* 1867
Sources

  • Family Archivists: see
    Moore


Timeline


1811Born
1851Married
Mary 
Blake
(
Moore
) 1827 - post 1870
19th Apr 1870Died
23rd Apr 1870Buried
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