Kerry County Museum will be closed to the public on Thursday 21st October from 10am until 2pm as the descendants of Pierce Mahony (1850-1930) of Kilmorna House near Listowel will make a donation of family memorabilia to the museum. The collection is hugely important for the county from a historical perspective and will have a positive impact on tourism, notably the North Kerry Greenway which passes through Kilmorna, as the items reveal history which was not known until the items came to light in 2020.

The items being donated are also significant on a national and international level due to their connection to Pierce Mahony. Pierce Mahony lived at Kilmorna House during the later half of the 19th century and sat as an MP with the Irish Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons in Westminster. During his time as an MP, Pierce kept a visitors book at Kilmorna which was signed by many famous names in Irish politics and culture at the time. The most famous signature is by Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of Irish nationalism. He signed the book twice when he was in the area to speak at Home Rule meetings. The Nobel Prize winner and icon of Irish literature William Butler Yeats signed the book twice. Until the visitors book came to light, there was no evidence he ever visited Kerry. Other famous signatures include politician John Redmond, who was the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, revolutionary Maud Gonne and the famous Irish composer William Percy French, who wrote songs such as ‘The Mountains of Mourne’ and ‘Phil the Fluter’s Ball’.

The people who signed the visitors book came to Kilmorna House by train from all over Ireland, Britain and the world. Kilmorna Railway Station was only a mile away from the Mahony home. The railway is now the route of the North Kerry Greenway.  From 1912, Pierce Mahony became an Irish chieftain and assumed the title ‘The O’Mahony of Kerry’. His kilt is being donated to Kerry County Museum. Also being donated is a small statue of St Francis which belonged to Sir Arthur Vicars, the half-brother of Pierce Mahony. On April 14th, 1921, the IRA returned to Kilmorna and burned down the house. They also shot Vicars dead on the garden steps on suspicion of being a spy. He was one of the most high profile civilian casualties of the Irish War of Independence and it was claimed his death led many Protestant gentry families to leave Ireland for fear of meeting the same fate during the conflict. The Mahony home at Kilmorna was one of nine Big Houses burned during the Irish War of Independence in Kerry and among 79 nationally.