Welcome to Duagh

Crown Jewels Moynsha House, Daugh, North Kerry. ©Lorraine Roche Moynsha House, Daugh, North Kerry. ©Lorraine Roche

The Great Houses of Duagh

At the turn of the century, Duagh boasted five great Houses:

           Duagh  House,                                      Moynsha House,

           Kilmorna House,                                  Killcarra House,

           Kilcarramore House.

Duagh House meaning “black ford”, is associated with the Fitzmaurice and Stack family. In the mid nineteenth century, Duagh House was shown as a triangular-shape dwelling with many angles on its long side. The main front was of two storeys and had five bays. It was gable-ended with massive chimneys at each end and had long Georgian windows. It also featured barns and stables.

The original owner was John Fitzmaurice, the 5th Lord of Kerry, who married Elinor Pierce of Ballymacaquin Castle. These Pierces descended from Pierce Fitzmaurice, youngest son of Thomas Fitzmaurice, 1st Lord of Kerry.

In 1907, the estate was sold to tenants, the Stack family retaining the house and surrounding land. Around 1935, the lands came into possession of the O Connors. The house was completely demolished in 1965.

Moynsha House is associated with the Harnett, Creagh, Saunders and the Burns family. In 1814, Moynsha was the Seat of Edward Harnett, but little more is known of the history of the Harnett and Creagh families, although they were prominent in North Kerry, mainly around Castleisland.

In the mid nineteenth century, the house formed a small “T” and had rectangular stabling. Today, the house has been greatly extended and rebuilt. There are now three storeys over a basement. It also boasts a magnificent entrance with iron gates.

A few years ago the Burns family bought Moynsha and have rebuilt it to an outstanding quality, fortunately saving it for coming generations.

Kilmorna House meaning “the big church” was associated with the Raymond, O Mahony, de Janascz and the Vicars family. The house was extensively rebuilt and enlarged at the end of the regency period, but was mainly early Victorian Tudor. There were three storeys and many gables with finials, a tower on one end had battlements. It also had good stables and pleasant gardens and woods.

Some time after 1780 the Raymond’s settled at Kilmorna, calling the house Riverdale. In 1823 George Raymond is recorded in residence at the time of much local unrest. Nevertheless, in 1831, J.Raymond, stilled lived there. Three years later the house was bought by Pierce Mohony. Pierce rebuilt the house and developed the lands and made new roads to help the tenants. He called the house Kilmorma. He married a Miss Gunn-Cuninghame and had two sons. After his death his widow married a Colonel Vicars and had a son Arthur. At five, Arthur’s mother died and he became very close with his step brothers.

Owning to his fascination with Irish genealogy he became at 29, Ulster King of Arms in Dublin Castle. He was also keeper of the Irish Crown Jewels.

The Crown Jewels of Ireland were heavily jewelled insignia of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick. In 1903, the jewels were transferred to a safe, which was to be placed in the newly constructed strong room. The new safe was too large for the doorway to the strong room, and Arthur Vicars, the Officer of Arms of Dublin Castle, instead stored the jewels in his office. Seven latch keys to the door of the Office of Arms were held by Vicars and his staff, and two keys to the safe containing the insignia were both in the custody of Vicars.

Vicars was known to regularly get drunk on overnight duty and he once awoke to find the jewels around his neck. It is not known whether or not this was a prank or a practice of the actual theft.

The jewels were discovered missing on 6 July 1907, four days before the state visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The theft is reported to have angered the King, but the visit went ahead.

Vicars refused to resign his position and publicly accused his second in command, Francis Shackleton, of the theft. (Francis was the brother of the explorer Ernest Shackleton.) Shackleton was exonerated in the commission's report, and Vicars was found to have "not exercise due vigilance or proper care as the custodian of the regalia."

In 1912, he went to Kilmorna, which was lent to him by his stepsister, Mrs. De Janascz. In 1917, he married Miss Gertrude Wright.

In spite of troubles in the Listowel area and the many warnings from both sided that he should leave the country, he continued to live at Kilmorna. In 1920, armed men broke into the house and threatened him, but he bravely refused to give up the key to the strong room and they left, warning him as they did so. On the 14th April 1921, Arthur Vicars was taken from his bed and was shot dead by the IRA. The house and all the contents perished in the ensuing fire.

Killcarra and Kilcarramore House: Sadly the author was unable to resource any information on the above properties.