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More O’Ferrall of Lisard, Co. Longford

19th century irish armorial bookplate for John Lewis More O’Ferral (1800-1881) of Lisard. First Commissioner for the Dublin Police force.

John Lewis More O’Ferrall (1801-1881)

 

The Lisard property near Edgeworthstown in Co. Longford was acquired in the mid 19th century by John Lewis More O’Ferrall (1801-1881), MJ, JP, DL. He was a second son of Major Ambrose O’Ferrall of Balyna, County Kildare (see here) 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. He married Clara Segrave in 1836, the same year that 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. He died at Granite Hall on 21 January 1881, aged 80.

 

Gerald More O’Ferrall (1880-1951)

 

John and Clara’s son Gerald More O’Ferrall (1880-1951) was married on  October 1907 to Geraldine Mary Fitzgerald (1881-1954), the Wexford-born daughter of Lord Maurice Fitzgerald and his wife Adelaide Jane Frances (née Forbes.) Geraldine was a  granddaughter of the 4th Duke of Leinster, while the Earl of Granard was her uncle. The wedding was given a full profile in the New Ross Standard of 25 October 1907.

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 9 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 his approval a year earlier. At 9pm, four IRA 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. One of the attackers is said to have been a prominent Leitrim footballer.

A blurry picture of Gerald and Geraldine from the New Ross Standard – Friday 25 October 1907

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.

Pamela More O’Ferrall in The Bystander, 14 September 1938. Tragedy came quick.

Richard’s death was not the only tragedy for the family. Gerald’s daughter Pamela was married at St Michael’s Church, Kingstown, on 12 October 1938 to Flight Lt. Rowan Sydney Howe, youngest son of the late James Henry Howe, and Mrs. Kate Howe, of Johannesburg and Swaziland. [1] The South African pilot was a trainer at the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Flying School at Horsted, Rochester. Very tragically, he was killed when his Hawker Hind aeroplane collided with an Avro Tutor at Rochester, Medway, England, just three days after their wedding. Two other men were also killed in the accident. Full details of this awful events are in the Belfast Telegraph, 17 October 1938, p. 11.

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.

 

End-Notes

 

[1] The Bystander – Wednesday 14 September 1938.