MAURICE R. WOLFE (1854–1928)
Maurice Richard Wolfe was born in 1854 at the Glen, the family farm near Cratloe, Parish of Athea, County Limerick, the eldest son of Richard E. Wolfe and Catherine White Wolfe. His siblings included Ellen “Nellie” (b. 1859), Patrick Richard (b. 1861), John W. (b. 1864), Richard White (b. 1866), Catherine (b. 1868), Mary A. (b. 1870), Michael (b. 1870), Johanna (b. 1873), and Nano. Of these, Patrick, Richard, Ellen, John, Mary, and Nano immigrated to the United States. Richard Wolfe became commissioner of public works for the city of Chicago.
Little is known of Wolfe's early years and education, although he almost certainly attended classes at a school his father founded at the Glen. As this account from Ireland's National Folklore Project attests, it began as a hedge school but evolved into something slightly more modern. He may then have graduated, like his brother Richard, to the Ballagh Townland school and the National School in Athea.
By 1870 Wolfe was living in Gragure, County Limerick, and corresponding with his cousin Maurice H. Wolfe, who was then serving in the U.S. Army fighting Indians.
On July 11, 1874, he passed the certification to become a second class assistant of excise in the Department of Inland Revenue. He took the exam in Limerick, but he soon transferred to Scotland, where he met Elizabeth Malcolm "Bessie" Cockburn, whom he married on December 13, 1878. The couple had at least three children: Jane C. "Dollie" (b. 1880), Richard Edmund Maurice (b. 1883), and Maurice James (b. 1884). Soon after the birth of their first child, they moved south. The English census of 1881 placed them on Sunderland Street, Tickhill Parish, Yorkshire.
Wolfe worked for the Department of Inland Revenue for nearly forty years and lived the last decade of his life in the Chapelizod neighborhood of Dublin. He spoke Irish fluently. Wolfe's father, also an Irish speaker, had been celebrated for his knowledge of the history and folklore or West Limerick and North Kerry, and was credited with helping his relative, the Reverend Patrick Wolfe, collect material for Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall, a seminal work on Irish names and surnames first published in 1906. A posthumous notation in the National Folklore Collection identified the elder Wolfe as a seahchaí, or storyteller. In 1931, when Richard W. Wolfe was visiting from Chicago, a newspaper report described Richard E. Wolfe's intellectual and cultural position in the community and then noted: "The old man was succeeded by Mr. Maurice R. Woulfe ..."