Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Borris House

THE FAMILY OF KAVANAGH WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY CARLOW, WITH 16,051 ACRES

DERMOT MacMORROUGH, King of Leinster, whose lineage is traced to far distant times, died in 1171, and was father, with a daughter, Princess Eva, of

DONELL KAVANAGH, or Donell the Handsome, King of Leinster, who was the immediate ancestor of this powerful Irish sept.

His descendants were elected Kings of Leinster down to the reign of HENRY VIII, and the Chief was acknowledged as "The MacMorrough" by the English.

Donell was slain in 1175, and was succeeded by his son,

DONNELL MacMORROUGH, who was given as a hostage to Roderick O'Connor, King of Ireland, and was slain by him. His son,

MORTOGH KAVANAGH MacMORROUGH, was slain at Arklow in 1281, and was succeeded by his son,

MORTOGH KAVANAGH, elected King of Leinster, who was summoned to attend EDWARD II against the Scots, in 1314.

His descendant, according to the pedigree registered in Ulster Office,

ART BOY KAVANAGH (1447-1517), of Borris and St Molins, County Carlow, and Poulmonty, County Wexford, in the reign of EDWARD IV, had two sons,
CAHIR MAC ART BOY, his successor;
Moriertagh Mac Art Boy.
The elder son,

CAHIR MAC ART BOY KAVANAGH, of Borris, Lord of Ballyanne, County Wexford, Captain of his nation, was created by patent, at the time of MARY I, Baron of Ballyanne, for life.

He married Cecilia, daughter of Gerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, by whom he had issue,
Morrough, called Baccach or The Lame;
Gerald, a hostage for his father, 1537;
Dermot, created, by patent, Tannist, dsp;
BRIAN, who carried on the line;
Crean, a hostage for his brother, 1556;
Honora.
His fourth son,

BRIAN MAC CAHIR KAVANAGH (c1526-75), The MacMorrough, of Borris and Poulmonty, was in rebellion, 1572.

He married Eleanor, daughter of Hugh Byrne, of Rathangan, County Wicklow, and had issue,
MORGAN, his heir;
Edmond;
Gerald;
Morish;
Eleanor.
Brian Kavanagh was succeeded by his eldest son,

MORGAN KAVANAGH (1566-1636), The MacMorrough, of Borris and Poulmonty, who wedded firstly, the Hon Eleanor Butler, daughter of Edmund, 2nd Viscount Mountgarrett, and had issue,
BRIAN, his successor;
Charles;
Edmund;
Arthur.
He wedded secondly, Joan, daughter of Nicholas Morres, of Templemore, County Tipperary, by whom he had an only daughter,
Joan.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

BRIAN KAVANAGH (1595-1662), The MacMorrough, of Borris, who married firstly, Elinor, daughter of Sir Thomas Colclough, Knight, of Tintern Abbey, by whom he had two daughters,
Elinor;
Anne.
He espoused secondly, Elinor, daughter of Sir Edward Blancheville, Knight, of Blanchevillestown, County Kilkenny, and had issue,
MORGAN, his heir;
Elizabeth; Alice; Mary.
Mr Kavanagh was succeeded by his son,

MORGAN KAVANAGH, of Borris, who married Mary, daughter of John Walsh, of Piltown, County Waterford, and was succeeded by his only son,

MORGAN KAVANAGH (1668-1720), The MacMorrough, of Borris, who married firstly, Frances, daughter Sir Lawrence Esmonde, 2nd Baronet, of Ballytrammon, and had issue,
BRYAN, his successor;
Henry;
Charles.
He wedded secondly, Margaret, daughter of Hervey Morres, of Castle Morres, County Kilkenny, and had another son,
Hervey, of Ballyhale, County Kilkenny.
Mr Kavanagh was succeeded by his eldest son,

BRYAN KAVANAGH, of Borris, who espoused Mary, daughter of Thomas Butler, of Kilcash, and sister of John, 17th Earl of Ormonde.

He died in 1790, having had isssue,
Walter;
Bryan;
Morgan;
THOMAS, of whom presently;
Helena; Mary; Honora.
The fourth son and eventual inheritor,

THOMAS KAVANAGH (1767-1837), of Borris,
sat as MP for the city of Kilkenny in the last Irish parliament, and subsequently representative for the same county in the last two parliaments of GEORGE IV and WILLIAM IV. 
He married, in 1799, Lady Elizabeth Butler, daughter of John, 17th Earl of Ormonde, and by her had issue a son, Walter, who died in 1836, and nine daughters, of whom six died unmarried.
Mr Kavanagh wedded secondly, in 1825, Lady Harriet Margaret Le Poer Trench, daughter of Richard, 2nd Earl of Clancarty, and left at his decease in 1837,
THOMAS, of Borris;
CHARLES, of Borris;
ARTHUR, of Borris;
Harriet Margaret.
The eldest son,

THOMAS KAVANAGH (1829-52), of Borris, died unmarried in Australia and was succeeded by his brother,

CHARLES KAVANAGH (1829-53), of Borris, who died a bachelor and was succeeded by his brother,

THE RT HON ARTHUR MacMORROUGH KAVANAGH JP (1831-89), of Borris,
Lord-Lieutenant of County Carlow, sworn one of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Counsel, 1886; MP for Wexford, 1866-8; and Co Carlow, 1869-80; High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1856, and of County Carlow, 1857.
He espoused, in 1855, Frances Mary, only surviving child of the Rev J F Leathley, and by her had issue,
WALTER, his heir;
Arthur Thomas;
Charles Toler (Lt-Gen Sir),
KCB, KCMG, CVO, CB, DSO;
Osborne;
Eva Frances; May Sabena; Agnes Mary.
The eldest son,

THE RT HON WALTER MacMORROUGH KAVANAGH JP DL (1856-1922), of Borris,
High Sheriff, 1884; High Sheriff, County Wexford, 1893; MP for Carlow, 1908-10; Captain, Royal Irish Rifles.
He married, in 1887, Helen Louisa, daughter of Colonel John S Howard, and had issue,

MAJOR ARTHUR THOMAS KAVANAGH, MC (1888-1953), Queen's Own Hussars. His eldest daughter,

JOANNE KAVANAGH, born in 1915; married firstly, Gerald, 8th Duke of Leinster, in 1936.

They divorced in 1946. She married secondly, Lt.-Col. Archibald Macalpine-Downie, in 1947. Her son,

Andrew McMorrough Kavanagh was born in 1948. He was also known as Andrew McMorrough Macalpine-Downie; educated at Milton Abbey School; formerly a jockey.

His name was legally changed to Andrew McMorrough Kavanagh, by Deed Poll.



BORRIS HOUSE, Borris, County Carlow, is the ancestral home of the MacMorrough Kavanaghs.

Borris is one of the few Irish estates that can trace its history back to the royal families of ancient Ireland.

Set today in over 650 acres of walled private park and woodlands, Borris House retains its place as the centrepiece of the locality.

Originally an important castle guarding the River Barrow, Borris House was rebuilt in 1731 and later altered by the Morrisons, chiefly Richard and William.


Externally, they clothed the 18th century house in a thin Tudor-Gothic disguise, adding a crenellated arcaded porch on the entrance and decorating the windows with rectangular and oval hood-moulds.

Inside the mansion they created an exuberant series of rooms, beginning with the most florid room of the house, the entrance hall, where a circle is created within a square space with the clever use of pairs of scagliola columns and richly modelled plasterwork.

The ceiling is like a great wheel with its shallowly-coved circular centre, from which eight beams radiate outwards.

The plasterwork is profuse with festoons in the frieze, eagles with outspread wings in the spandrels and swirling acanthus in the cove of the ceiling.


Major MacMorrough-Kavanagh had no male issue.

Before his sudden death, in 1953, he had been working on setting up a trust to ensure the future of the Borris estate.

The trust had not been finalised, and he had not made a will.

The result was a high burden of death duties and legal costs, which led to the sale of some family treasures.

Among the items sold was an unfinished Rubens. It was sold for £23,000 and has since been sold for something in the region of £1,000,000.

In 1958, the house faced the threat of becoming a ruin when Joanne Kavanagh, following the death of her second husband, Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Macalpine-Downie, decided to vacate the big house and move to a smaller new house on the estate.

The house had been so rebuilt, altered, and enlarged that it was now almost impossible to maintain.

Joanne Kavanagh's only son, Andrew Macalpine-Downie, after a career in England and his marriage to Tina Murray, returned to Borris and assumed the family surname, Kavanagh.

Other former seat ~ The Lodge, Ballyragget, County Kilkenny.

First published in July, 2011.

2 comments :

pebbles_peb said...

HI I would like to speak with you regarding this family I believe I might be related to them. I live in the US and my Great Great Grandfather came here about 1840 with the Name McMorrough. We have been trying to trace the face and right now at a dead stop. From the crest & the names you mentioned it seems like the right family. Any help would be appreciated, Thanks

spencer welsh said...

Hello, From inherited artifacts, I have spent many years researching my family of Welsh of Woodstock Co. Waterford who resided in that location from ca. 1765 to 1870.
Prior to this, from ca. 1660 they lived at Canty near Whitechurch also in said County.According to documentary evidence and new research, this branch of the Walsh/Welsh descended from Walsh of Piltown and Ballykeroge Castles Co. Waterford.

From my research it is clear that the portrait of Mary Walsh which hangs at Borris, is an ancestress of McMorrough/Kavanagh, but is erroneously listed here as a daughter of John Walsh of Piltown. Mary was in fact the daughter of Thomas Walsh of Piltown, whilst John was her brother who was later killed, being blown up aboard a prisoner ship in Cork Harbour.

Mary is mentioned in her father's Will of 1667 and in the Clonmel Inquisition papers dated 1653 as being eight years old. Her uncle James (second son) is now shown to be the progenitor of Walsh/Welsh of Woodstock.Hopefully this mistake can be rectified.