Thomas Moore, Ireland’s National Bard, appeared on stage in Kilkenny City each year between 1808 and 1810, in charitable performances with the Kilkenny Players. Moore was a poet, satirist, composer and musician who was a close friend of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. During his lifetime his writings, which are still popular today, aroused support in London for Irish nationalism.
Thomas Moore was born above his parents’ grocery shop on Aungier Street in Dublin on May 28th 1779. His father was a native of Moyvane, County Kerry and his mother was Anastasia Codd from Wexford town. Thomas Moore entered Trinity College Dublin in 1795 to study law. He was a contemporary of and friendly with Robert Emmett. However he was persuaded by his mother not to get involved in revolutionary activities.
Having graduated with a BA degree Moore moved to London in 1780 to study law at Middle Temple. He became a popular figure in London society and the publication of Odes of Anacreon established him as a poet. Lord Moira became a patron and through his influence Moore was appointed Admiralty Registrar in Bermuda in January 1803. However he did not enjoy the boredom and seclusion of Bermuda and moved to the United States after four months. He toured the United States and returned to London via Canada in November 1804.
Thomas Moore was a very close friend of Lord Byron. Byron entrusted his memoirs to Moore for publication after his death. However, Moore was persuaded by Byron’s family to destroy them. Moore later celebrated Byron’s life by editing and publishing his letters and journals. Moore wrote 130 original poems. Among his best known are poems such as ‘The Minstrel Boy’, ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ and ‘Oft, in the Stilly Night’, which are lyrics written to Irish tunes. As well as writing his melodies Moore also wrote biographies of United Irishman Lord Edward Fitzgerald and playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
Whilst performing in Kilkenny, Moore met the actress Elizabeth Dyke. They were married in 1811 and later settled in Bromham, Wiltshire in England. Regarded as a hero by Irish nationalists, Moore is reported not to have liked Daniel O Connell. Moore, who was a catholic himself, was a strong advocate of Catholic Emancipation. When emancipation was granted in 1829 he is reported to have said: ‘Now that the Paddies are happy, I consider my politics entirely at an end’.
Moore’s Melodies continue to be popular and are performed to this day. A version of the Minstrel Boy is performed on the soundtrack of the movie Black Hawk Down. Monuments to Moore can be found in several locations including in Dublin close to Trinity College, at The Meeting of the Waters near Avoca, County Wicklow and in Central Park, New York City.
Thomas Moore poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer died at the age of 72 in the year 1852 On This Day.Image taken from page 10 of ‘[The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore,
Moore Monument, Westmoreland Street (looking to O’Connell Bridge, including a tram), Dublin City.