Friday, March 1, 2013

Moore Hall, County Mayo

 Moore Hall is located in a beautiful spot on the shore of Lough Carra in Co. Mayo. The house was constructed between 1792 and 1796 by George Moore. He was a very successful wine merchant and entrepreneur, his main business was based in Alicante in Spain where he traded in wine and brandy. He was also involved in the export of seaweed from Galway as it was used to make iodine. Unusually at that time for such a wealthy and powerful man, George Moore was a Roman Catholic. His family originally came from Ashbrook near Straide in Co. Mayo, but George wanted a house to reflect his vast fortune so he commissioned the architect John Roberts, to construct a house suitable for a man of his means. 

Legend has it that George was warned by the locals not to construct his new house at the site on the shore of Lough Carra. Way back in the 5th century AD, the King of Connacht was said to have been murdered by his enemies, the kings’ druid fled after the murder, fearing for his own life, but was hunted down and he himself was murdered close to where Moore Hall stands today. The ill luck of the druid and King were said to linger in the area and infect the lives of those who chose to live there.

George Moore lived at the Moore Hall from the time of its construction until his death in 1799. Bad luck did befall him and his family when his son John took part in the ill fated 1798 Rebellion. John was even declared the ‘President of the Connaught Republic’ before he was arrested and sentenced to transportation. John died in Waterford, en-route and a month later his father died. John’s body was exhumed in 1961 and transferred from Waterford to The Mall, Castlebar where he was reburied with full military honours.  

George Henry Moore (who was landlord of the large estate) was renowned for his kindness during the Great Famine. He was a keen horse racing enthusiast, and during the height of the Famine in 1846 he entered his horse Coranna in the Chester Gold Cup and won the huge sum at the time of £17,000. He used that money to give every one of his tenants a cow. He also imported thousands of tonnes of grain to feed the locality. Not one person was evicted or starved on George Moore's estates during the Famine. George was also a politician and an MP for County Mayo. He, along with some other family members, are buried at Kiltoom, which is a small family graveyard about 30 metres from the modern day carpark at Moore Hall.

George Henry’s son was the famous writer George Augustus Moore. He played a pivotal role in the Irish literary revival and was one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre and the Gaelic League.

The last of the Moores to live at this great house was Maurice Moore. He fought with the Connaught Rangers in the Boer War and became deeply involved with human rights issues. One of the key issues he petitioned for was the return of Irish prisoners serving sentences in English jails following the War of Independence. Moore was elected envoy to South Africa by the first Dàil and served as a Senator under Cosgrave and de Valera. Despite his tireless work for Irish independence, Moore Hall was burned down by anti-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War in January 1923.

Today Moore Hall is owned by the forestry company Coillte and is a wonderful and atmospheric spot to enjoy a walk and a picnic. Moore Hall is located around 11km north of Ballinrobe. Leaving Ballinrobe, take the L1067, this will take you to Ballygarris cross.  Turn left at this point and you will be on the road for Carnacon. Follow the road to the right, and after crossing Annie’s bridge, take the next left turn at Lough Carra lake.  This will take you to the car park at Moorehall. There is a marked trail through the woods which is approximately 3kms long.

I hope you enjoy this blog, we're trying to cover as many sites as we can across Ireland. If anyone has any suggestions about sites you'd like us to cover please do leave us a comment. If you enjoy information and images of Irish heritage sites then do follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ If you'd like to support us then please consider downloading an audioguide to one of Ireland's wonderful heritage sites. They are packed with original music and sound effects and are a great way of experiencing the story of Ireland. They only cost €1.99 and are fun whether you are at the site, or listening from the comfort of your own home. If you enjoy stories of the turbulent medieval period in Ireland try our guide to Viking and Medieval Dublin, visit us at for free previews and to download your free audioguide to the Rock of Dunamase  or the free audioguide to the wonderful heritage town of Kells in County Meath