Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Count Louis William Le Warren Hamon of Normandy. Aka Cheiro 1866-1936

Count Louis William Le Warren Hamon of Normandy was born William John Warner in Dublin or Wicklow in 1866. Claiming descent from French aristocracy, he later changed his name by deed poll to reflect this assertion. After reportedly spending a period of time in India, he began a career as a professional occultist.

Operating as a palmist and clairvoyant under the Sobriquet Cheiro, he professed to have read the palms of various celebrities including Charles Stewart Parnell and Oscar Wilde. He published several books during his lifetime on palm reading and astrology.

It has been suggested that Hamon acquired wealth from the generosity of various clients. An entrepreneur who invested in various companies, his attempts to establish a bank at Paris ended in legal acrimony when two American ladies alleged fraud.

In 1919, he purchased 170 acres of bog at Moorock outside Ballycumber. Basing himself at Prospect House he founded the Artificial Coal Company to experiment in the production of peat briquettes.

Dr Philip McConway reports that Hamon’s chauffer transported a number of wounded republicans to a Dublin hospital in the aftermath of the IRA’s attack on Clara RIC barracks in June 1920.

 In August 1922, the Ballycumber peat works including a large amount of machinery was burned while Hamon was in London. He later recounted…

‘My wife and I had safely passed through the troublesome period when the Sinn Feiners were active fighting against the England, leading up to the formation of the Irish Free State and the Treaty of 1922. All had been well until the Irish began fighting themselves, when the Republican section burned down my factory in order to force my employees to join their side.’ (1)

As late as 1926, Hamon remained optimistic about the future of the briquette venture. Originally awarded £7,000 compensation on condition he reinstate the peat works; the state appealed the ruling by attempting to cast doubt on republican involvement in the fire. The Hamon Case reached the Supreme Court in 1928 with a judgment in favour of the Minister of Finance.

Hamon continued to operate as an occultist and died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California in 1936. His ashes were interned in Meltham churchyard, Yorkshire in 1945.

The author wishes to acknowledge the existing work on Hamon’s life carried out by Rachel McKenna.


Rachel McKenna. Flights of Fancy. (Tullamore) 2017. 

Daily News. 19 October 1936.

Irish Independent. 26 April 1926. 28 June 1926. 7 February 1928.

Midland Tribune. 18 June 2020. Dr Philip McConway -‘Baptism of Fire’: The IRA attack on Clara RIC Barracks in 1920.

Offaly Independent. 2 April 1928.

Leinster Reporter. 26 August 1922.

Huddersfield Daily Examiner. 4 August 1945.

Ottawa Free Press. 9 January 1909.

(1) Rachel McKenna. Flights of Fancy. (Tullamore) 2017. P 223.

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