Borris House and the Incredible Mr. Kavanagh

Borris demesne is the seat of the MacMorrough Kavanagh family, descendants of the high kings of Leinster. One of the best known members of this family was Art OG MacMorrough Kavanagh a fine solider who waged incessant warfare against Richard II and his English forces in Ireland. He had many close escapes from capture, and finally died in New Ross in 1417 from poison administered it is said by a jealous woman. He was buried at St. Mullins and his funeral procession was said to have stretched the 6 miles from New Ross to the Graveyard.

Another well known member of the family was Morgan, who served somewhat unwillingly in the army of Fredrick the Great – King of Prussia. He was said to have been the largest man in Europe and Fredrick allowed him to visit his homeland on condition that he would return with his four brothers whom he said were bigger and finer men than he. Safely back home Morgan Prussia as he became known used to climb nearby Brandon hill on the anniversary of his return each year and make a royal salute to Fredrick.

A remarkable nineteenth century member of the family was Arthur or the Incredible Mr Kavanagh.

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The Incredible Mr. Kavanagh

It is rare in itself to find a story of coming out of Ireland about a good landlord. But such a story becomes legendary when the landlord-hero happens to be a man born without arms or legs! Starting life with those two staggering handicaps, in the mid-19century, when medical science was still primitive, Arthur Kavanagh lived a more than normal life. Armless he wrote letters and diaries, he drew and painted. Legless, he rode horseback across Europe and Asia and became a skilled huntsman. His adventures in the far reaches of Russia, Kurdistan, Persia and India would have challenged the resources of an able-bodied man.

He was a skilled yachtsman and at the age of thirty-five, having become a member of the British parliament he frequently moored his small sailing craft outside the House of Commons having navigated the Barrow, Irish Sea, English Channel and Thames Esturary.

With none of the advantages of plastic surgery or artificial limbs, Arthur relied on nobody but himself to help him surmount his disabilities. The story of The Incredible Mr. Kavanagh is truly an inspiration for all