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Born to Thrive: Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh: 1831-1889

Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh was not like other children, in fact he was quite different. This was due to the fact that Kavanagh was born without arms or legs. (5) This of course was a great blow to his parents who were well to do, but they did not give up hope for him, neither did the doctor whom they entrusted Kavanagh too. The doctor believed that the young Arthur could still live a happy and productive life, so he trained the child to ride horses and to fish at a young age. Eventually, when he was a young adult Kavanagh was sent into exile in Uppsala when his mother discovered that he was having affairs with some of the girls that lived on their estate. From Uppsala Kavanagh traveled near and far, he went from Egypt to Persia to Antonia and finally to India. It was there that Kavanagh met up with the East India Company, he managed to convince them to let him be a dispatch rider despite his lacking in limbs. (6) He was a rather successful one to, he continued with this venture until he gained his family estate when his older brother died in 1851. A few years after he took over the family estate he married his cousin with whom over the course of their marriage he had seven healthy children. As well as being a loving father and owning a large estate Arthur Kavanagh also served as High Sheriff of County Kilkenny for a number of years, as well as being High Sheriff of Carlow after that. (7) If all of Kavanagh’s accomplishments were not impressive enough there is more: not only did he serve as High Sheriff for a number of years he also had a seat in parliament on the Tory benches for two years. After he finished his two year seat on parliament Kavanagh held positions in a number of other various councils until he died of pneumonia in December of 1889 at the age 58. Thus Arthur MacMurrough left behind quite a legacy and many outstanding accomplishments, all of which would have been impressive for a normal man let alone one who was born with neither arms nor legs. Needless to say Arthur’s disabilities did not keep him from living a happy and productive life.


(5) The Irish Story. “Arthur Kavanagh- the Limbless Landlord.” Accessed April 8, 2019 (6) Ibid. (7) The Kavanagh Family. “Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh: 1831-1889.” Accessed April 8, 2019

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