Moorehall's fascinating Louisa to be recalled at Ladies of the Gentry event

Picture will be painted of Moorehall in its heyday

Picture will be painted of Moorehall in its heyday

Today, it is a fading ruin, an eerie sort of a place in a clearing in the woods, where the ivy has had its own way creeping across the facade for many years now.

But despite its roofless state and the gaping holes instead of windows, it only takes a little imagination to visualise the former splendour of Moorehall in its heyday in the 1800s.

A long, tree lined avenue stretches down from the house on Muckloon Hill to the waterside at Lough Carra and hints at what a graceful tableau it must have once struck on a summer's day, when an elegant party of gentry lunched on the lawn, perhaps.

Fiona White, a heritage studies lecturer at GMIT, Castlebar, became fascinated with the place while walking her dog in the scenic forest routes around Moorehall.

Now, she is an expert on the story of the big house and its colourful past inhabitants, who led such interesting lives that they are worthy of a Downton Abbey style serialisation all of their own.

"A unique, fiesty woman in a man's world"

One such character from Moorehall's history is Louisa Moore, a niece of the Brownes of Westport House, and Ms White is to deliver a talk all about Louisa, her home and her family, at an event called Ladies of the Gentry, in the Museum of Country Life Turlough, later this month.

Louisa married the second owner of Moorehall, George Moore. She was by all accounts "a unique, fiesty woman in a man's world," according to Ms White.

She very much went against the grain in the early 19th century when she stepped up as the estate manager, and became an astute and much admired one at that, while her husband and son were away for long spells for various reasons.

Louisa successfully oversaw the running of the 12,000 acre estate, several hundred tenants and dozens of house servants during these times.

"In the early 19th century, it was quite unique for a woman to do that," explained Ms White. "What I have tried to do it to piece together an image of the house at that time, Louisa, her life and her relationship with her very controversial son (George Henry ) before he became a politician."

Ms White is writing a thesis for her PhD studies all about Louisa, and she is to share some of the insights she has gained at the Ladies of the Gentry talk on July 19.

The talk is part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of Turlough Park House.

Much of Ms White's work is based on her studies of the many letters between Louisa and her tearaway son George Henry.

George Henry was a notorious gambler and a womaniser before he became a much respected politician and hero of the Famine for his extensive relief work.

At one stage, he travelled to Russia and Palestine to escape the consequenes of some of his more outrageous behaviour and Ms White said she has spent much time studying the letters between mother and son from this period.

Ms White will also speak about Louisa's work during the Great Famine, when her family demonstrated many kindnesses to their tenants and refused to carry out evictions.

At the Ladies of the Gentry evening, Olivia Martin will also deliver a talk on the insights she has gained into the lives of mothers, mistresses, widows and spinsters, as revealed through her studies of the wills of the lesser gentry in east Mayo between 1760 and 1880.

Ladies of the Gentry takes place at the Museum of Country Life, Turlough, on Saturday, July 19 from 2 to 3 pm. Booking is required. Telephone (094 ) 9031751 or email [email protected]

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