Market Day, Listowel, County Kerry, ca. 1900 (National Library of Ireland)

MAURICE WOLFE (ca. 1823–1909)

Maurice Wolfe was born about 1823 in western County Limerick, the son of James Richard Wolfe and an unknown mother. He had at least two brothers, Thomas (b. 1841) and Richard (b. 1842), but likely at least another brother and at least two sisters.

Wolfe's grandfather, Richard James Wolfe, had been a prominent landowner and "the agent having charge of the property of the Knight of Kerry," according to Wolfe's History of Clinton County (1911), which likely involved care of Ballinruddery, the residence of Maurice FitzGerald, near Listowel, County Kerry. Wolfe's father inherited land at nearby Dromolought.

Maurice Wolfe farmed at Kiltean, County Kerry, just west of Listowel. He married Mary Cronin and had at least nine children: James M. (b. 1867), Matthew (b. 1869), Richard M. (b. 1870), Mary (b. 1873), Margaret (b. 1874), Elizabeth (b. 1875), John (b. 1879), Timothy M. (b. 1881), and Maurice (b. 1891).

In 1892, the brothers Matthew and Richard Wolfe were accused of murder and eventually indicted for manslaughter in the death of the farmer Michael Dillane at Ballybunion. An early report on the case suggests that boycotted land may have been at the root of the argument, although later the Crown prosecutor contended that it was unclear what started the row. Regardless, a letter to the editor of the Irish Times, republished in the Kerry Evening Post on August 3, 1893, complained that the Wolfe brothers were never tried and that it was "well known in the county, and evidence would have been produced at the trial to show, that the case was an agrarian murder"—which is to say, violence related to the ongoing Land War between tenants and landlords.

Wolfe sat on the Rural District Council and, for forty years, the Listowel Board of Guardians, one of five such bodies in Kerry empowered by Parliament to aid the poor and help defray the costs of emigration. His son James took his place on both.

Wolfe's obituary in the Kerry Sentinel describes him as a man "who cherished his independence" and who "was not of an excitable temperament; on the contrary he was of a most amiable and conciliatory disposition, and even on those contentious days when Tory met Nationalist—sometimes in discussionary mortal affray—his was the voice which essentially induced hands to meet across the table and resume the 'even tenour' of their way—at least temporarily."

Wolfe died in 1909.