|George's ambition was to be a great painter and when sent to London to study for the Army he spent a great deal of time at the theatre and in gambling. His father's death in 1870 precipitated a decision that George prepare for the Army, but on reaching his majority he went to Paris where for some years he tried hard to paint .When he found out finally that he never could, he firmly decided to write instead. He was a tenacious man and in the next few years (described in the Confessions) he steadily grew in the ability to write a clear story-teller's prose. His career is well told in Hone's biography where a complete list of his work is given and is recommended to anyone who is interested.
While in Paris he became acquainted with the great French writers of the day - Zola, Daniel Halevy and many others.
He returned to Moorehall for long spells but did most of his writing in London. "A Mummer Wife" and "Drama in Muslin" were of this period.
Slowly he built a reputation as a writer and then at the beginning of the Boer War Imperial jingoism and John Bullism began to nauseate George.
He returned to Ireland and for a short period of his life became an enthusiastic follower of Hyde for whom he had great respect. He wrote a play the "Bending of the Bough" on an Irish theme and his collection of stories "The Untilled Field" was published in 1902.
Moore renounced Catholicism formally but he was as doubtful a Protestant as he was a Catholic. A good description of him would be a reverent agnostic. He shared with Shaw a strange prophetic political social and literary vision and after twelve years in Ireland he was quite convinced that the Irish language could not be revived and that political independence "would only prolong its death"
His change of religion provoked a long quarrel with his brother Maurice which ended in a final break in 1912 when Moorehall was closed for ever. He had objected to money he had provided for the education of his two nephews being used to educate them as Catholics and after long and sometimes bitter quarrels they parted. George saw no future for Ireland. Maurice did and this divergence also helped embitter relations. George returned to London disillusioned and continued to write until his death in 1933.
Augustus Moore lived for most of his life in London. He edited a high-class scandal sheet called "The Hawk". He died in 1910 leaving one son Peter who since the age of 17 has lived in Paris.
Maurice joined the British Army having failed to get into the French Army. He served in the Zulu War and on his return he began to take an interest in the Irish Movement. He became a Colonel by the time the Boer War broke out and was a reluctant draftee in that war. he had a great personal admiration for Botha and DeWet and a strong respect for Smuts administrative ability.
On the outbreak of the 1914 war he refused a lucrative offer as Director of Recruits in Ireland. Pearse, McDonagh and Hyde were his especial friends in the movement. He sponsored Irish teaching classes in Moorehall House (I spoke to some of the pupils and from 1913 onwards he acted as Inspector of National Volunteers. He rejoined the Army in 1914 but resigned his commission in 1916 as protest against the executions. Though not living in Moorehall he visited there frequently and never believed but that he and George would be eventually reconciled.
During the war of Independence he was firmly on the side of the national movement and was several times arrested, questioned and released, on one occasion being driven through Dublin in an open lorry as a hostage.
He accepted the Treaty and was elected for the first Senate in 1922 and concurred in the general ideas of the constitution of that body i.e. that it should demonstrate once for all the non-sectarian outlook that was to realise Wolf Tone's image of what Ireland should be.
The civil war was coming to its bitter end after Christmas 1922. The Army of the provisional government had been given Moorehall as a training centre between Truce and Treaty.
In the small hours of Thursday 1st February 1923 four armed men demanded the keys "to put up a column for the night". My father was told to stay in the house under the pain of being shot. As he suspected what was afoot he tried to argue against it but to no avail. At 5 a.m. he ventured across the woods. The house was in flames. I was just awake and up and had run to the top of the path on the hill when the roof crashed in. My father (very roughly for him) ordered me to go home and go to school. Before I left for school my father returned and went writing letters at the kitchen table. He was crying with rage, and I can only recall one phrase he used to my mother "an ignorant mob that don't know what they are doing".
The reason now given for its destruction is that it was to be occupied by Free State troops. The Free State Army had looked over the place about a week previously but had no intention of occupying it. There is a strong suspicion that local land hunger was at least a factor in the matter. The first question asked by three local men within a month or so of the burning was "Do you think it will hurry up the division of the land". It is probable that a scare that the Free State Army would occupy it was really there.
After the signing of the Ultimate Financial Agreement of 1925 Maurice Moore got increasingly uncomfortable in his Treatyite stand. he wrote a pamphlet "British Plunder and Irish Blunder" attacking this agreement. He spoke many times in the Senate and in public about it but got a scant hearing, and was lampooned in the official Cumann na nGael newsheet "The Nation" about his well worn recitation "The Land of Annuities".
In 1927 the Irish Land Commission (ILC) bought out the estate. The bulk of the estate went in additions to existing holdings. Two new farms were created, and Maurice Moore, who had visions of his son Maurice ("Rory") returning from Wyoming and farming a small farm, got the ruin and premises with the woodland surroundings.
The Oath Crisis(Oath of Allegience to the Crown) of 1927 being over, the new Fianna Fáil Party was quick to see in the Annuities Question a good election platform. . The Annuties issue was the platform as far as the West was concerned, not the Oath.
Moore continued his support for Fianna Fáil and when the Senate was reconstituted in 1937 he was one of DeValera's nominees.
Late in 1936 Colonel Moore wrote to my father asking him to come to see him. He regretted that his health did not allow him to travel to Moorehall.
When my father got to Dublin Maurice was in a sad mood. It now appeared that "Rory" (His son) could not hope to return to Ireland. The drought of 1932 and the depression had left no margin for a restoration of Moorehall. Maurice sold the estate to the late John O'Haire, a timber merchant who cleared all the woods. On his death the Department of Forestry purchased the place and it is still in their possesion.
Maurice died in September 1939 just as the world war broke out. I visited him many times during the years 1933 - 36. He liked to talk of Moorehall and the people he knew, his political ideas. He was a pleasant old man - rather humourless. He was at that time hopeful that Chamberlain's Government would see the folly of Partition. As I was then a rabid young supporter of Fianna Fáil I thought him somewhat conservative. His funeral at Moorehall was badly attended. Only Justice Gavin Duffy and two other cars were there. Old Mrs. Quinn though now feeble cried at the graveside. Fr. Langan C.C. performed the obsequies at the graveside. The parish priest did not attend. The Moore family were never favourites with the clergy. George Henry had "gone against the clergy" and George A. had written "dirty books".