When Empress Elisabeth first came to Meath in 1879, Leonard Morrogh had been Master of the Ward Union Hunt for seven years. As Sisi went out with the Ward’s staghounds many times Leonard Morrogh became very friendly with her.
Leonard Morrogh was a successful lawyer specialising in handling sales of land. He was born into a Roman Catholic family in the village of Kilworth, County Cork. His father was well to do, a local magistrate and a member of the committee running poor relief.
At an early age Leonard moved to Dublin where he set up a lawyer’s business with his cousin in Lower Denmark Street. Much of his early work was carrying out conveyancing after properties had been sold at auction. But Leonard Morrogh was soon buying large chunks of farmland so that he could get the rental income. It was shortly after the first potato famine and many tenants and landowners were struggling to survive. He was typical of the new class of landowner which became powerful politically in the second half of the 19th century.
By the 1860s Leonard Morrogh went to all the leading social events in Dublin such as ‘drawing rooms’ held by the Viceroy and was prominent in many charitable organisations. In 1870 Morrogh wrote indignantly to the Irish Times (11 April) saying reports of his hunting injury were greatly exaggerated and pointed out he was not Master of the Wards. Furthermore it had not been a good day’s hunting.
Two years later Leonard Morrogh had become Master of the Ward Union Hunt. This brought him into close contact with the Viceroy Earl Spencer. In turn he accompanied Sisi many times and remained Master for 20 years. He retired to County Wexford and lived at Sleedah House.
In January 1889 Morrogh was thrown from his horse and sustained very serious injuries from which he died five days later. The Irish Times said: ‘In private life he was amiable and beloved, and there are very many who will to-day learn with unfeigned sorrow of his sad death.’ There was a huge congregation at Leonard Morrogh’s funeral. He was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.