Moore, Maurice George (1854–1939), soldier and politician, was born 10 August 1854 at Moore Hall, Ballyglass, Co. Mayo, second child among four sons and one daughter of George Henry Moore (qv), MP for Mayo and leader of the tenant right movement in the 1860s, and his wife Mary, daughter of Maurice Blake, Ballinafad, Co. Mayo. His elder brother was the novelist George Moore (qv). Educated at home by an English governess, and later at St Mary's College, Oscott, Birmingham (a catholic boarding school), and Sandhurst, he entered the army in June 1874 as sub-lieutenant in the land forces, before joining the 88th Regiment (Connaught Rangers) as a lieutenant 28 August 1875. Having served in the South African Kaffir and Zulu wars (1877–9), he became captain in the 1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers, in November 1882 and gained the rank of major in February 1883. During the second Boer war he commanded the battalion (December 1900–May 1902) and was present at the relief of Ladysmith and the battles of Colenso, Spion Kop, and Vaal Krantz. He also formed and trained a mounted column from his regiment which operated in the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, Natal, and the Cape colony; and was honoured for his service with the rank of brevet colonel and the CB in 1902. However, he was appalled by the military treatment of Boer civilians, in particular the use of concentration camps, and published anonymous articles in the Freeman's Journal and elsewhere condemning such actions. On 16 July 1906 he retired from the army.
A supporter of the Gaelic League, he taught himself Irish while in South Africa during the war and practised it with Irish-speaking members of the Connaught Rangers. In 1903 he started evening schools in Mayo that taught Irish language and history, and in 1909 supported the introduction of Irish as a compulsory matriculation subject for the National University of Ireland, which brought him into conflict with the catholic bishops. He was also interested in rural development and supported the cooperative movement.
Appointed in 1913 to the provisional committee of the Irish Volunteers as a representative of the United Irish League, he was also made inspector general of the Volunteers and spent much of 1914 organising Volunteer corps throughout Ireland. Reluctantly accepting the takeover of the Volunteers by John Redmond (qv) in June 1914, he was involved in discussions about their possible use for the defence of Ireland during wartime, and after the Volunteer split in September 1914 supported Redmond's National Volunteers, believing that ‘it would be constitutional for a national army to be under the general direction of those who were still the acknowledged leaders of the Irish people’ (quoted in Hannon, 103). However, he broke with Redmond in 1916, feeling that the military nature of the National Volunteers was diluted by the political influence of the IPP. In July 1916, along with Agnes O'Farrelly (qv), he collected a petition seeking a reprieve for Roger Casement (qv), believing ‘that any further shedding of blood will not tend to improve the relations between the two islands’ (NLI, Moore papers, MS 10,564 (1)). By 1917 he was a supporter of Sinn Féin. His house in Dublin was raided by British forces on a number of occasions during the war of independence. In 1921 he went to South Africa on behalf of Dáil Éireann to seek Jan Christiaan Smuts's support for Irish independence, convincing him to support repeal of the union but not an Irish republic. Between 19 June and 31 July 1922 he seved as Dáil Éireann envoy to France with responsibility for finding suitable premises for an Irish diplomatic delegation and improving relations with the French government and press.
A member of the Irish Free State senate from its establishment in 1922 until its abolition in 1936, and later of Seanad Éireann from 1937 till his death, he was initially a supporter of Cumann na nGaedheal but joined the Clann Éireann party of Professor William Magennis (qv) in 1926, in opposition to the boundary agreement and the ultimate financial settlement between the Irish Free State and Great Britain. His pamphlet British plunder and Irish blunder ([1926?]) criticised the financial settlement whereby the Free State agreed to continue paying land annuities and RIC pensions. After the demise of Clann Éireann he joined Fianna Fáil in 1928 and supported their policy of retaining land annuities for the Irish exchequer.
When he retired from the army, he lived at Moore Hall (which belonged to his brother George) till 1912, when its upkeep became too costly. Having resided briefly in Brussels, he returned to Dublin, where he lived for the rest of his life at 5 Seaview Terrace, Donnybrook. Moore Hall was burned down by the anti-treaty IRA in February 1923 in the mistaken belief that it belonged to Maurice, as part of their assault on the homes of Free State senators.
Though he was initially quite close to his brother George, the relationship deteriorated rapidly during the 1900s and 1910s, largely due to George Moore's anti-catholicism. Maurice, in contrast, was a devout catholic, expressed in his opposition to divorce when it was debated in the senate in 1925. George objected to the education of Maurice's sons (to which he contributed a significant amount) at the catholic Downside school, Somerset, and to their being raised as catholics. As he had no children of his own, George Moore considered Maurice Jr to be his heir. The portrayal of Maurice as a catholic apologist in George's autobiographical trilogy, Hail and farewell (1911–14), which Maurice believed made him appear ‘mentally contemptible and physically ridiculous’ (quoted in Gray, 279), and George's preface to Maurice's biography of their father, An Irish gentleman: George Henry Moore (1913), in which George deliberately but mistakenly implied that their father had committed suicide, led to the sundering of relations between the brothers, and though Maurice attempted a reconciliation in the 1920s, they never spoke to each other again.
Maurice Moore died 8 September 1939 in Dublin, leaving an estate valued at £2,418. His papers are in the NLI. His other publications include: ‘A history of the Irish Volunteers’, (Ir. Press Jan.–Feb. 1928), Who were the Picts?, and Financial relations: Ireland and Britain. He married (1889) Evelyn, daughter of John Stratford Handcock of Carantrilla Park, Dunmore, Co. Galway; they had two sons, Maurice and Ulick. Ulick served with 6th Connaught Rangers in France during the first world war and was killed in action at Sainte-Émilie on 22 March 1918.