This account of the Moore family is the transcript of a talk given by the late Philip O'Reilly, Principal of Claremorris Primary School and son of the last caretaker/steward of Moorehall.

It is presented not as a definitive historical account but rather as a personal insight by one who had a passion for all aspects of Moorehall and The Moore family.


The story of this remarkable family does not begin in Moorehall or even in Ireland. Thomas Moore, or More, was born in Barnborough in Yorkshire in 1635. Thomas married a Welshwoman - Mary Apadam (Ap = Mac, i.e. MacAdam). Their son George seems to have been the first Moore of the family to come to Ireland. He married a Scots woman, Catherine Maxwell, and his name appears in the records of the Ulster King of Arms as Vice-Admiral of Connaught. A carpet-bagger might be an apt enough description of this George. Very little else is known of him except that his name appears on his tombstone as Captain George Moore and he lived in Ballina. Their son George Moore married Sarah Price, daughter of a Protestant Clergyman from Foxford. This marriage, and the fact that father and son are buried in the Protestant cemetery at Straide would seem to indicate that the family were Protestant up until this time, but it is not conclusive evidence, since during this period families and individuals changed their religious allegiance with each change of Monarch. Furthermore, Catholics and Protestants often shared a common cemetery (e.g. Crossboyne). The question of religious allegiance assumes some importance when we come to talk of that wayward character - George Moore 4th of Moorehall.

George and Jane had two sons - George and John. By the time John had grown up and married Jane Lynch-Athy of Renvyle, Co. Galway, the family had acquired Ashbrook House near Straide, and here were born three sons and two daughters to John and Jane. Of one son and both daughters there seems to be very little trace. Robert practised as a doctor in Galway, George having taken a hard look around mid 18th Century Ireland decided to emigrate to Spain. While in Spain he married Catherine Kilkelly, grand-daughter of one of the "Wild Geese". Whether he married into money or made it, or a little of both, is neither too clear nor very important, but this wine-merchant of Alicante returned to Ireland and set out to establish the family as part of the Mayo county gentry. He bought an estate of 650 acres on the peninsula formed by the two unequal arms of Lough Carra. The name of the peninsula was Ballycally - Baile Uí Cheallaigh, a name that derives from its 16th Century owners the O'Kellys whose stronghold was at Donamona Castle. Moore bought it from a family named McDonnell. (It has proved impossible to trace whether this family were of the same stock as the McDonnells of Carnacon or not.)