Gore’s Wexford Home
By Mairead Carey, Contributor
December / January 2001
John Murphy has come up with the essential accessory for any would-be U.S. president – an Irish homestead. He is certain Al Gore’s roots can be traced to Murphy’s land where the remains of a ten-bedroom mansion once owned by the Gore family lies in ruins.
If confirmed (and if Gore wins) it will be the second time Co. Wexford has produced a U.S. president. John F. Kennedy’s ancestors came from a cottage just twenty miles away in New Ross.
Unoccupied for the last twenty years, the remains of the Gore home lie on the picturesque banks of the river Sow between rapids and a waterfall, in the village of Crossabeg, between Gorey and Wexford Town. The roof is still roughly intact, and the chimneys are still standing. The land around it is totally overgrown. With renovations and a lick of paint, Murphy believes it would serve quite nicely as a visitors’ center just like the Kennedy homestead down the road.
Murphy discovered the Gore connection over 30 years ago. “I was rooting around the attic and I found a tin box. Inside was a set of deeds from 1749 with the seal of Sir Arthur Gore. He sold the house and about 80 acres of land to the Williams, a Quaker family. They in turn sold the property to Murphy’s grandfather in 1909. Al Gore had already traced his roots back to Crossabeg. The family was landed gentry, so this has to be the house.
“It must have been a great house years ago,” he points out. “It had ten bedrooms; two big reception rooms with great old marble fireplaces, and two or three kitchens and pantries. If I had money [to fix it up] it would be beautiful.”
John was born in the house, but left when he got married and built his own bungalow. The house became too much for his parents to manage, and they too built a new home some years later. “It had deteriorated to such an extent that it was cheaper to build a new bungalow,” he says with some regret. “We didn’t appreciate old houses then.”
But he believes that if Al Gore is successful in his White House bid, it could herald a brighter future for the once stately home. He fondly recalls John Kennedy’s visit to Wexford in June 1963. “I was just 13 at the time, Wexford was packed that day.
“Kennedy was more outgoing than Gore,” he admits. “But I’d love to see Gore become President, and it would be great if he came for a visit.”
He believes Wexford has room for two visitors’ centers in honor of two American presidents. “The Kennedy home in Dunganstown is just a small farm and cottage, but it has been developed into a great tourist attraction.”
The Kennedy clan is descended from Patrick Kennedy, a peasant farmer from Dunganstown. He left Wexford in his 20s to escape the famine in 1848 and traveled to Boston. The descendants of two other brothers, who stayed behind, still live in the area. The Kennedy clan are still regular visitors at the cottage. One of Robert’s sons made the pilgrimage to the ancestral homestead last year during his honeymoon, and Jean Kennedy Smith unveiled the Memorial Plaque at the homestead during her term as American Ambassador to Ireland. ♦