Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin

Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin MBE TD (30 July 1914 – 25 April 1999) was an Irish journalist, author, sports official, and the sixth President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He succeeded his uncle as Baron Killanin in the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1927, which allowed him to sit in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster as Lord Killanin upon turning 21.[1][2][3]

The Lord Killanin

6th President of the IOC
In office
11 September 1972  3 August 1980
Preceded byAvery Brundage
Succeeded byJuan Antonio Samaranch
Honorary President of the IOC
In office
3 August 1980  25 April 1999
Preceded byvacant, last held by Avery Brundage (1975)
Succeeded byvacant, next held by Juan Antonio Samaranch (2001)
Personal details
Born(1914-07-30)30 July 1914
London, United Kingdom
Died25 April 1999(1999-04-25) (aged 84)
Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Spouse(s)Sheila Dunlop
Monica Deborah
Alma materMagdalene College, Cambridge
OccupationJournalist, film producer, author, business executive, honorary consul

Early life

Morris was born in London,[4] the son of Irish Catholic Lt. Col. The Hon. George Morris who was from Spiddal, County Galway. The Morrises were one of the 14 families making up the Tribes of Galway. During the First World War, Morris' father was killed in action near Villers-Cotterêts, France, on 1 September 1914 while commanding the Irish Guards. His grandfather was Michael Morris, Baron Morris who served as Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland from 1887 to 1889.

His Australian-born mother, Dora Maryon Wesley Hall (1891–1948), was the second-eldest daughter of English-born James Wesley Hall (1839–1901) and Australian Mary Dora Frederica Hall (née Dempster; 1864–1895). Wesley Hall was the first general manager of the famous Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company Limited in Queensland, Australia, from 1886 to 1891. He was born in Kington, Herefordshire, England to Walter Hall, a miller, and Elizabeth Carleton Skarratt. Lord Killanin's maternal grandmother, Dora Hall, was born in Williamstown, Victoria, to William Dempster, a bank manager, and Margaret Herbert Davies.

Morris was educated at Summerfields, Eton College, the Sorbonne in Paris and then Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was President of the renowned Footlights dramatic club. In the mid-1930s, he began his career as a journalist on Fleet Street, working for the Daily Express, the Daily Sketch and subsequently the Daily Mail. In 1937–38, he was war correspondent during the Second Sino-Japanese War.


Lord Killanin married (Mary) Sheila Cathcart Dunlop (1919–2007), MBE, of Oughterard, County Galway, in 1945. She was the granddaughter of Henry Dunlop, who built Lansdowne Road Rugby Ground in Ballsbridge, Dublin, in 1872. Her father was The Very Rev. Canon Douglas Lyall Chandler Dunlop, Church of Ireland Rector of Oughterard. Lord and Lady Killanin had three sons, George Redmond ("Red"), Michael ("Mouse"), and John ("Johnny"), and a daughter, Monica Deborah.[5][6][7][8]

Military career

In November 1938, the young Lord Killanin was commissioned into the Queen's Westminsters, a territorial regiment of the British Army, where he was responsible for recruiting fellow journalists, including future Daily Telegraph editor Bill Deedes, and friends who were musicians and actors. He reached the rank of major and took part in the planning of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in 1944, acting as Brigade Major for 30th Armoured Brigade, part of the 79th Armoured Division. He was appointed, due to the course of operations, a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). After being demobilised, he went to Ireland. He resigned his TA commission in 1951.

President of the IOC

In 1950, Lord Killanin became the head of the Olympic Council of Ireland (the OCI), and became his country's representative in the IOC in 1952. He became senior vice-president in 1968, and succeeded Avery Brundage, becoming President elect at the 73rd IOC Session (21–24 August) held in Munich prior to the 1972 Summer Olympics. He took office soon after the Games.[9]

During his presidency, the Olympic movement experienced a difficult period, dealing with the financial flop of the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the boycotts of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Denver, originally selected to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, withdrew and had to be replaced by Innsbruck. The cities of Lake Placid and Los Angeles were chosen for 1980 Winter and 1984 Summer Games by default due to a lack of competing bids. Killanin resigned just before the Moscow Olympics in 1980, and his position was taken over by Juan Antonio Samaranch. He was later unanimously elected Honorary Life President.[10]

Other positions

Killanin served as Honorary Consul-General of Monaco in Ireland from 1961 to 1984.[11]

Killanin served as Chairman of the Race Committee for Galway Racecourse from 1970 to 1985.[12] In his acceptance speech on behalf of the Galway Race Committee when accepting an award for its contribution to Irish Raching in 2013 the then chairman Mr Naughton said Lord Killanin’s appointment as Chairman of the Race Committee in the early 1970s was instrumental in setting in motion a train of development that has resulted in the venue not only becoming a top horse-racing destination but also an attractive tourist destination.[13] A keen horse racing enthusiast, Killanin also served as a steward of the Irish Turf Club on two occasions and on the National Hunt Steeplechase Committee.

In his business life Killanin was a director of many companies including Irish Shell, Ulster Bank, Beamish & Crawford and Chubb Ireland. He was a founder member of An Taisce (The National Trust for Ireland) and was chairman of the National Monuments Advisory Council until his death.[14]


Lord Killanin also worked in the film industry, collaborating with his lifelong friend, John Ford, on The Quiet Man, when he acted as a general factotum, and later producing three of Ford’s films The Playboy of the Western World, The Rising of the Moon and Gideon’s Day.


Killanin died at his home in Dublin aged 84 and, following a bilingual funeral Mass at St Enda's Church in Spiddal, County Galway, he was buried in the family vault in the New Cemetery, Galway.

Selected works

  • Four days, an account of the 1938 Munich crisis, edited by Lord Killanin. London, W. Heinemann, Ltd. (1938).
  • Sir Godfrey Kneller & His Times, by Lord Killanin. B. T. Batsford Ltd., (England) (1948).
  • Olympic Games, by Lord Killanin. Macmillan Publishing Company (1 February 1976), ISBN 0-02-975730-4.
  • Shell Guide to Ireland, by Lord Killanin, M.V. Duignan, Peter Harbison (Editor). Macmillan; 3Rev Ed edition (May 1989). ISBN 0-333-46957-7.
  • The Fitzroy: The Autobiography of a London Tavern, by Lord Killanin, Sally Fiber, and Clive Powell-Williams. Temple House; 1st edition (21 August 1995). ISBN 1-85776-023-9.
  • My Olympic Years, by Lord Killanin. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd; First Edition (9 May 1983). ISBN 0-436-23340-1.
  • My Ireland: A Personal Impression, by Lord Killanin. Gallery Books (Nov 1987). ISBN 0-8317-6286-1.


  1. Killanin, Lord (1983). My Olympic Years, autobiography. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-688-02209-X.
  2. Killanin, Lord (1988). Olympic Games 1988. Penguin Group. ISBN 0-7181-2391-3.
  3. Killanin, Lord; Duignan, Michael V (1989). Shell Guide to Ireland. Gill & Macmillan. ISBN 0-7171-1595-X.
  4. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  5. Collins, Liam (4 March 2007). "Double blow to Gold Cup trainer". Irish Independent. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  6. O'Brien, Stephen (30 April 1999). "Haughey in tribute to Lord Killanin". Irish Independent. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  7. Collins, Liam (4 June 2015). "Great tragedy for family steeped in sport and history". Irish Independent. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  8. Lundy, Darryl. "Person Page - 38693: Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin". The Peerage. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  9. "Olympic Review" (PDF). LA84 Foundation. N59: 355. October 1972.
  10. Olympic Review (PDF). N154. August 1980. pp. 410–412.
  11. Berry, Claire (28 July 2012). "Lord of Ballybrit". The Irish Field.
  12. Hyland, Francis (2008). History Of Galway Races.
  13. NiFhlatharta, Bernie (20 August 2013). "Galway Race Committee honoured for its contribution to horse racing". Connacht Tribune. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  14. Bushe, Andrew (April 1999). "Ex-IOC head Lord Killanin dead". The Irish Echo. Retrieved 27 December 2014.


Civic offices
Preceded by
Avery Brundage
President of the International Olympic Committee
Succeeded by
Juan Antonio Samaranch
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Martin Morris
Baron Killanin
Succeeded by
Red Morris
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