Lord Mayo in a pickle

Sir, – Congratulations to Norman Freeman on his excellent Irishman's Diary' of January 28th, which dealt with Richard Southwell Bourke, sixth Earl of Mayo and former viceroy of India.

Since coming to live in this village nearly 40 years ago (and as author of the plaque referred to by your Diarist), I have always been fascinated by the life of this most interesting – and neglected – Irishman.

For anyone who might like to learn more about his life and times, I recommend WW Hunter's Life of the Earl of Mayo published in 1875 (just a few years after Lord Mayo's assassination), George Pottinger's Mayo: Disraeli's Viceroy or, indeed, chapter four of Mark Bence-Jones's Viceroys of India (1982) which deals with some of the more colourful and humorous episodes of his time there.

For an alternative – and more acerbic – view, one could reference Karl Marx (no less!) writing in the New York Daily Tribune in January 1859, where he describes Mayo as "notorious as a reckless partisan of Irish landlordism"

The Illustrated London News of May 4th,1872, carried a detailed report of his funeral (which was attended by all the great and good of the time) and illustrations of the coffin being landed at Custom House Quay and of the funeral procession.

Finally, for anyone wishing to know how this most distinguished gentleman came to be known locally as “The Pickled Earl”, I suggest that you come along to one of the meetings of the Kill History Group, which are held in the parish meeting room on the fourth Monday of every month, where all will be revealed! – Yours, etc,




Co Kildare.

Sir, – I enjoyed reading the article on Richard Bourke, the Earl of Mayo.

Before he left for India, Lord Mayo stipulated that if he died there his body was to be returned to Ireland and he was to be buried in Johnstown, Co Kildare.

After his assassination the colonial officials were perplexed as to how to get his remains back to Ireland from India without them decomposing on the long sea journey.

Their solution was a novel one; they immersed the body in a barrel of rum.

So Lord Mayo was returned home thus and duly buried in the graveyard in Johnstown.

To this day Lord Mayo is referred to as “The Pickled Earl” in this part of Co Kildare. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.