By Dan Walsh in Boolavogue
Not since the days of Fr. John Murphy has there been so much excitement in the Boolavogue area after it was disclosed in the national media at the weekend that Penny Mordaunt, tipped by many to be the next Tory leader and likely Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as successor to Boris Johnson has strong family roots in north Wexford.
Ms Mordaunt, (49), born in Torquay, who is MP for Portsmouth North, has held a number of government posts under Boris Johnson and Theresa May, including Defence Secretary, Paymaster General, Trade Minister, and the Women and Equalities and International Development portfolios.
She is a niece of Henry Mordaunt, who maintains the family’s genealogy website. Henry traces their family roots back to Denis and Mary Mordaunt, born in north Co Wexford in the late 18th century.
The family were tenant farmers on land in Ballintlea, (carved as ‘Ballinaclay’ on the family memorial in Boolavogue graveyard) near Gorey, throughout the 19th century and in north Wexford.
Denis Mordaunt (1783-1868) was baptised in the parish of Kilanerin, near Gorey. He married Mary Byrne (1791-1851) in Avoca, Co Wicklow, in 1813, and held 30 acres in Ballinaclay, and may also have held land at Clone, near Monamolin. He died in 1868 and was buried in Boolavogue.
One of his younger children, Edward Mordaunt (1831-1917), married Bridget Crowe (1841-1921) in Litter Parish (Kilmuckridge) in 1863. They lived on 86 acres at Cullentra until he was evicted in 1886 for non-payment of rent and was jailed for his role in the ‘Land War.’
Part of the memorial inscription reads; “To the memory of Edward Mordaunt, Monamolin, of Land League fame, who was a fearless soldier in the land wars of the 1880s after suffering a term of imprisonment. Died February 6th 1917, aged 85 years.”
The house was destroyed by fire, and Edward and his family later lived in Court Ballyedmond, Monamolin, where he was a farmer and shopkeeper. He died in 1917, and he was buried in Boolavogue, alongside his father and older brothers.
Edward’s son Patrick Mordaunt (1874-1914) was baptised in Monamolin and married Bridget Plunkett (1873-1957) in Wexford in 1898. He enlisted in a cavalry regiment and the family moved to Canterbury.
Earlier today, I visited Boolavogue graveyard and observed the well-kept memorials that are testament to the Mordaunt family, and should Penny aspire to lead the United Kingdom as Prime Minister the footfall will increase and, perhaps, she may be invited to come and visit!