Mississippi Mass Choir landlord
George Moore, 1852-1933
By ADRIAN FRAZIER
Yale University Press
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His Father's Funeral and the Birth of
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:
IMPORTANTNotice 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.
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.