More O'Ferrall of Lisard, Co. Longford
FROM 'THE LANDED GENTRY & ARISTOCRACY OF CO. KILDARE' BY TURTLE BUNBURY & ART KAVANAGH (IRISH FAMILY NAMES, 2004).
The Lisard property in Co. Longford was acquired in the mid 19th century by John Lewis More O’Ferrall, second son of Major Ambrose O’Ferrall and brother to Richard More O’Ferrall, Governor of Malta. Born in June 1800 and educated at Downside and Stonyhurst, John became a barrister in Dublin as a young man. In 1836 Prime Minister Robert Peel appointed him joint Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. He remained in the post until 1871 during which time he did much to transform the police from a volunteer force into a professional body of “Peelers” or “Bobbys”, both names deriving from Prime Minister Peel. He lived between Granite Hall in Kingstown (Dun Laoighaire) and Lisard in Edgeworthstown.
His grandson Gerald More O’Ferrall inherited Lisard in 1914 and married Geraldine Fitzgerald, granddaughter of the 4th Duke of Leinster (qv). In August 1934 Gerald was appointed land agent for the Sanderson estate in Co. Longford. When tenants refused to pay outstanding rent he secured eviction orders against 11 of them. The Edgeworthstown Tenants Association was quickly formed and an invitation was dispatched to the IRA.
On Saturday 9th February 1935, Gerald hosted a dinner party at Lisard, principally to improve relations with his 21-year-old son, Richard, who had married Miss Moya Brady without family approval a year earlier. At 9pm, four men dressed in Garda uniform and carrying revolvers barged into Lisard, rushed the dining room, grabbed Gerald and tried to drag him away. Richard went to the aid of his father and the IRA opened fire. Richard was shot in the back and Gerald in the chest. The IRA fled soon afterwards.
Gerald’s life was saved by a gold cigarette case in his dinner jacket. Richard was mortally wounded and died in hospital eleven days later.
Although the culprits were never brought to justice, the murder was counter-productive to the IRA. Eamon de Valera's Fianna Fail government went into overdrive against their former allies, severe measures were brought in to deal with the IRA. The measures included the abolition of trial by jury, the introduction of a Special Criminal Court (non-jury) and of Military Courts, from which there was no appeal.
The O'Ferrall family left Lisard in 1952 and relocated to Kildare. Lisard House was demolished in the 1950's and the lands purchased by the Forestry Department.
Richard and Moya's daughter Geraldine, an artist and sculptress, lived a happy and fulfilled life in Dublin. She passed away in 2011 at the age of 77.
With thanks to David Menzies.