Monday, 3 September 2012

3 September 1513: Gerald Mór FitzGerald, aka 'Gearóid Mór', 8th Earl of Kildare died on this day from wounds he received while on campaign. Known to his contemporaries as ‘Garret Mor’ - Garret the Big - he was the most powerful man in Ireland in his heyday.

Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare was born circa January 1455/56 He was the son of Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Kildare and Lady Joan FitzGerald. He married, firstly, Alison Eustace, daughter of Rowland Eustace, 1st and last Baron of Portlester and Genet Bellew, circa 1478. He married, secondly, Elizabeth St. John, daughter of Oliver St. John and Elizabeth Scrope. He succeeded to the title of 8th Earl of Kildare [established 1316] on 25 March 1477.

He was the Lord Deputy of the Kings of England on a number of occasions and despite backing the House of York both before and after the accession of Henry VII he was too powerful and able a character to be ignored by the Crown of England.

His base was the Castle of Maynooth in County Kildare.  He had a great library at Maynooth Castle with books of English, Irish, Latin and French. He also made plans for a college to be founded in Maynooth which was eventually built by his son, Garret Óg in 1518. It was only opened for a few years  until it was shut down by Henry the 8th during the Reformation.

He ruled with an armoured fist over both English and Irish alike and was as much akin to an Irish Chieftan as an Anglo Irish Lord in his methodology of governance. Such methods made him feared but not loved and he had to deal with many domestic rivals during his time in Power.
His greatest Victory came at the Battle of Knockdoe in 1504 in Connacht when he defeated the Anglo-Norman Burkes of that Province. It was probably the largest and bloodiest battle fought in Ireland for hundreds of years. However he did not always get his own way on the field of battle and in the year 1510 came off 2nd best at the Battle of Móin na mBrathar in County Limerick, when his army & that of his allies met that of Turloch lord of Thomand and was defeated.

In 1512, after entering O'Neill of Clandeboye's territory, capturing him and then taking the castle of Belfast, FitzGerald then for reasons now unknown proceeded through to utterly ravage the Bissett family's lordship of the coastal Glens of Antrim.

While on an expedition against the O'Mores of Laois, he was seriously wounded by a gunshot while watering his horse near Kilkea/Cill Cathaigh in Co Kildare. He was conveyed back to Maynooth Castle but never recovered. He died there on or around 3 September 1513. He was buried in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

Garrett, Earl of Cill-dara, i.e. the Justiciary of Erinn, i.e. the man of greatest fame, greatest in power and dignity, (and who achieved the greatest conquests over the Gaeidhel, and broke down the greatest number of the castles of the Gaeidhel—whose authority, law, and rule were the best—and who gave the most of his own property in presents to the men of Erinn), that had ever come of the Foreigners in Erinn, died after unction and penitence, in Cill-dara, and was buried in Christ-Church in the town of Ath-cliath, to the heavy grief of the majority of the Foreigners and Gaeidhel of Erinn after him.
Annals of Loch Cé 1513

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