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Blarney Stone

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Author and Balladeer

Moore was born on 28 May 1779 at 12 Aungier Street, Dublin. An easing of the penal laws against Roman Catholics in 1793 allowed him to enter Trinity College, Dublin, with view to a legal career. A close friend was Robert Emmet, whose death inspired him to write 'O breathe not his name', but Moore stayed aloof from the United Irishmen. Another friend, Edward Hudson, awakened his interest in Irish music, and both were moved by the Irish airs of Edward Bunting.

In 1799, Moore entered the Middle Temple in London. It was his talents as a singer and pianist, however, which made him an immediate favourite of London society; when his translation of the Odes of Anacreon was published in 1800, he was able to dedicate it to the Prince Regent. In 1803, through the influence of Lady Moira, Moore became admiralty registrar in Bermuda, but soon appointed a deputy and returned to London.

In 1808, he published his first volume of Irish Melodies, with music by Sir John Stevenson; the tenth and last appeared in 1843. Many melodies, such as "The last rose of summer" and "Believe me if all those endearing young charms", were love songs, but patriotic ballads such as "The harp that once" and "The minstrel boy" were acceptable to the English as to the Irish. Moore had a regular income from the melodies, in return for his willingness to perform them, but his other writings proved less enduring, even though seven editions of his long oriental poem "Lalla Rookh" (1817) were published within a year.

In 1819, Moore fled to France to escape a debtor's prison after his deputy in Bermuda had stolen £6,000, but was able to return in 1822. He published biographies of Sheridan in 1825, Byron in 1830, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald in 1831, and an unusual novel-cum-history, Memoirs of Captain Rock (1824). His latter years were spent in the village of Sloperton, in Wiltshire where he died on 25 February 1852.

See: Statue by Christopher Moore at junction of Westmoreland Street and College Street, Dublin. A plaque marks Moore's birthplace.
Read: Terence de Vere White, Tom Moore (1977).

From the Appletree Press title: Famous Irish Lives.
Also from Appletree: Irish Museums and Heritage Centres.

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