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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

#Last Will

THE SIZE of the fortunes left behind by some of Ireland’s most famous sons have been published by an online genealogy website.

Ancestry.co.uk has published the details of millions of wills, including Irish legends Oscar Wilde, Charles Stewart Parnell, William Butler Yeats and Ernest Shackleton.

The records made available also include those of Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and Charles Dickens.

We’ve gone through some the best-known names to give you the details:

Oscar Wilde

Dublin man Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde – better known as Oscar Wilde – remains one of Ireland’s most famous writers. Wilde was also extremely popular during his own lifetime and was paid handsomely for his works, which included The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

But, despite this, he died in diminished circumstances.

Wilde died in November 1900, and while it would be wrong to say that he died “penniless”, he left an estate worth just £250 (€28,000 today ) which, considering his earlier wealth, was a very modest sum. His estate, which he left to his son Vyvyan Beresford Holland, took twenty years to settle.

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, a poet, dramatist and Nobel Prize winner,was born Co Dublin and was one of the driving forces behind the Irish Literary Revival. He famously penned The Tower and The Winding Stair and Other Poems.

Yeats left an estate valued at £4,498 14s 2d (worth €267,000 today) to his widow Bertha Georgie Yeats. He died in January 1939,

Charles Stewart Parnell

Wicklow man Charles Stewart Parnell championed the cause of Home Rule for Ireland, was elected as the MP for Co Meath, and entered the House of Commons in London in 1875.

He fell from grace after the details of his seven-year affair with married woman, Kitty O’Shea, were revealed. The pair later married.

In 1891 Parnell – known as the “uncrowned king of Ireland” – left a total of £11,774 7s 3d, which would be the equivalent of €1.3m in today, to his wife, Kitty.
Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton, born in Kilkea in Co Kildare, was a polar explorer and one of the principle figures involved in what is known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He died during his last expedition in 1922.
Shackleton left an estate of £556 2s 2d (the equivalent of around €24,000 today) to his widow, Emily Mary Shackleton.
Bram Stoker

Clontarf-born “Dracula” author Bram Stoker left an estate worth £5,269 12s 7d (€553,000 in today’s values) to his widow, Florence Ann Lemon Stoker after his death in 1012.

Other famous names

  • Author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, left the equivalent of €3.6 million by today’s standards
  • Writer Charles Dickens left the equivalent of €8.5 million
  • British naturalist Charles Darwin left behind a whopping estate worth €15 million
  • Socialist Karl Marx left a much more modest sum, the equivalent of €27,000, to his youngest daughter Eleanor

Ancestry.co.uk allows registered users a two-week free trial. After that, there is a subscription service, or pay as you go, at a cost of £6.95 for access to 12 documents.