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Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh.

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Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh.

( 1831-1889)

Arthur was born in Borris County Carlow, his family were wealthy landowners living in Borris Hall, they claimed to be able to trace their ancestry to 1180 BC and the ancient kings of Leinster. Nature is no respecter of social position, the child was born with no limbs, only stumps, there was much talk in the village of a peasants curse as Arthur's father had turned Protestant.

At the age of four he received his first pony, and strapped to the saddle he controlled it with a hook attached to his shoulders, he became an accomplished horseman, riding to the hounds. He taught himself to shoot, fish and sail, and on a trip to India bagged a tiger.

When his older brother died in a fire he became head of the family and heir to the estate, in 1855 he married his cousin Frances Leathley. They had six healthy children.

Arthur threw himself whole heartily into estate management and improving the life of his tenants. He established a lace industry, built a sawmill, and is credited with bringing the railway to Borris, as well as largely rebuilding both Borris and the nearby town of Ballyragget.

In 1866 he directed his energy to politics becoming the Conservative Member of Parliament for County Wexford and then for County Carlow. He holds the distinction of being the only totally limbless man ever to have sat in the House of Commons. He lost his seat in 1880, and died in 1889.

The Kavanagh family still live in Borris House, which is not open to the public, the road to the south out of the town passes under the imposing railway viaduct, now defunct as the spur line from Bagnalstown to Borris was closed many years ago.

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