Every week we shine a light on a different object from our collections that you may not have seen before. This week we have leather case which belonged to Michael Morris (1914-1999), third Baron Killanin, of Spiddal House, Galway. The son of Dora Hall and George Henry Morris, his father, was killed in action in France on 1 September 1914 just weeks after he was born. Michael became third Baron Killanin at age 13, succeeding his uncle Martin Henry Morris.
The history of the Morris family in Galway goes back to a George Morris who served in the army of King James II, who married Catherine Fitzpatrick in 1684 and in doing so the Morris family gained land in the parish of Killanin, barony of Moycullen, county Galway. The Morris family purchased land at Spiddal from the sale of part of the estate of Patrick Sarsfield Comyn in the early 1860s. In the second half of the 19th century Michael Morris was a prominent lawyer and judge and was made a Baronet in 1885 and the first Lord Killanin in 1900 (www.landedestates.ie).
Educated in Paris and London, Morris first worked as a journalist before he joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps when World War II (1939-1945) broke out – he was later awarded the Order of the British Empire for his part in the invasion of Normandy. In 1945, he returned to Ireland where he had spent his childhood. Morris was a business man and was also involved in the film industry, working with friend, Hollywood director John Ford, on The Quiet Man filmed in the west of Ireland. Morris also produced other films, including The Playboy of the Western World and The Rising of the Moon (www.britannica.com).
Morris’ interest in history and archaeology meant he was involved in numerous organisations including the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society and this interest led to his work on the Shell Guide to Ireland with archaeologist Michael Duignan, published in 1962. He was also involved in the Olympic Council of Ireland for many years, being elected its president in 1950 until 1973. In 1972, Morris became the 6th President of the International Olympic Committee, retiring in 1980.
Michael Morris, Baron Killanin passed away in Dublin in 1999 and was laid to rest in New Cemetery, Bohermore, Galway. His extensive collection of books was donated to the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway.
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