Gerald ´ Garret Mor` FITZGERALD
(8th E. Kildare)
Died: ABT 3 Sep 1513
Father: Thomas FITZGERALD (7° E. Kildare)
Mother: Jane FITZGERALD (C. Kildare)
Married 1: Alison FITZEUSTACE
1. Gerald 'Gearóig óg' FITZGERALD (9° E. Kildare)
2. Margaret FITZGERALD (C. Ormonde)
3. Elizabeth FITZGERALD
4. Eleanor FITZGERALD
Married 2: Elizabeth St. JOHN (C. Kildare)
5. James FITZGERALD of Leixlip (Sir)
6. Oliver FITZGERALD (d. 3 Feb 1537)
7. Richard FITZGERALD of Fassaroe (d. 3 Feb 1537)
8. John FITZGERALD (Sir) (d. 3 Feb 1537)
9. Walter FITZGERALD
Knight of the Garter. Gearóid Mór. Surnamed "Gerald the Great". Gearoid Mór Fitzgerald was appointed Lord Deputy in 1477, but was replaced by Leonard Grey on the supposition that an Englishman could do the job better. The lords of the Pale set up a breakaway parliament in protest, and Edward IV was forced to re-install Gearóid Mór. He inherited the title of Earl of Kildare in 1478.
Fitzgerald managed to keep his position after the York dynasty in England was toppled and Henry VII becoming king, but Fitzgerald blatantly disobeyed King Henry on several occasions; he supported the pretender to the throne of England and the Lordship of Ireland, Lambert Simnel, while defeating another pretender, Perkin Warbeck in battle in Galway. However, Henry needed Fitzgerald to rule in Ireland, and at the same time couldn't control him.
He presided over a period of near independence from English rule between 1477 and 1494. This independence ended when his enemies in Ireland seized power and had him sent to London as a traitor. He suffered a double blow: he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and his wife died soon after. He was tried in 1496, and used the trial to convince Henry VII that the ruling factions in Ireland were "false knaves". Henry immediately appointed him as Lord Deputy of Ireland, saying "All Ireland cannot govern this Earl; then let this Earl govern all Ireland." Gearóid returned to Ireland in triumph.
He ruled with an iron fist. He suppressed a rebellion in the city of Cork in 1500 by hanging the city's mayor. He raised up an army against rebels in Connacht in 1504, defeating them at the Battle of Knockdoe.
On an expedition against the O'Carrolls, he was mortally wounded while watering his horse in Kilkea. He was conveyed back to Kildare, where he died on or around 3 Sep 1513.
The Legend of the Great Earl's Ghost
A legend says that Gearóid was skilled in the black arts, and could shapeshift. However, he would never let his wife see him take on other forms, much to her chagrin. After much pleading, he yielded to her, and turned himself into a goldfinch before her very eyes. A sparrowhawk flew into the room, seized the "goldfinch", and he was never seen again.
The Great Earl and his soldiers now slumber in a cavern beneath the Curragh of Kildare, ready to awaken to defend Ireland in her hour of need. The Earl rises once every seven years on May Day, and rides around the Curragh on his steed. When his horse's shoes are worn down to the thickness of a cat's ear, he will lead his army against the English, drive them out, and reign as king of Ireland for forty years.
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