By Dan Walsh
British Tory MP Penny Mordaunt, (49), who was once tipped as the next UK Prime Minister, steeped in Boolavogue and North Wexford ancestry, has returned to the cabinet as leader of the House of Commons, having endorsed Liz Truss after nearly beating her into the final two of the Conservative leadership race.
Most recently a trade minister, the naval reservist made history when she became the UK’s first female defence secretary in 2019 and had also been in cabinet in 2017 as international development secretary.
The former magician’s assistant is perhaps best known outside Westminster for appearing on ITV’s celebrity diving show Splash!
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.