Turtle Bunbury

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FitzGerald of Carton & Kilkea, Co. Kildare

Earls of Kildare, Dukes of Leinster

When Maurice FitzGerald decided to assist the deposed King of Leinster in his invasion of Ireland, he cannot have possibly imagined how potent a force his descendants would become over the next seven hundred years. From the Machiavellian pragmatism of Garret Mor to the doomed rebellion of Silken Thomas and the flight of the Wizard Earl, the Kildare FitzGeralds have always been a dynasty of consequence. In the 18th century, a new age of respectability saw the family head elevated in the Peerage as Duke of Leinster. But even in those times, scandal was not far away as the Duke’s son Lord Edward Fitzgerald became embroiled in the Rebellion of the United Irishmen. The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 was ultimately followed by tragedy and ruin, fostered by a compulsive heir whose passion for fast living almost wiped out the Fitzgerald fortunes forever.

On return from his successful mission to recruit the assistance of Strongbow’s army in 1168 Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster stayed with David FitzGerald, Bishop of St. David’s in Wales. Here he met the Bishop’s brother Maurice and half-brother Robert FitzStephen who both expressed a desire to help the beleaguered monarch regain his Leinster kingdom. Maurice’s grandfather, Walter Fitsother, was Constable of Windsor Castle. His father, Gerald FitzWalter, was Constable of Pembroke Castle, and his mother, the beautiful princess Nesta, a daughter of Prince Rhys as Gruffudd of South Wales.[1]

Maurice duly sailed for Ireland with two ships and a small assembly of soldiers. In 1170, under Strongbow's leadership, Maurice took command of part of MacMurrough's army in a victorious assault on Viking Dublin. The following year Maurice and his two sons, together with Strongbow and a small English force, were trapped in the fledgling city for two months while the vast army of Roderick O'Connor, King of Ireland, and a fleet of 30 Manx vessels cut off all channels of escape. Maurice persuaded the defendants to have courage in the face of such overwhelming odds and strike out at the enemy. To their amazement they succeeded and the Irish were utterly routed. The Anglo-Norman domination of eastern Ireland was rapidly established. Strongbow duly rewarded Maurice with the Manor of Maynooth and the ancient royal stronghold of Naas. He was simultaneously created Lord of Maynooth. By his marriage to Alice, daughter of Arnulph de Montgomery, Maurice FitzGerald was to become patriarch of the Geraldines in Ireland.[2]

Maurice died at Wexford in 1176, leaving four sons.[3] His second son Gerald succeeded to the Maynooth estates, a grant confirmed during the reign of Henry III. In 1193 he married the heiress Eva de Bermingham, and so acquired the Barony of Offaly. As Baron Offaly, he took part in the conquest of Limerick in 1197 and obtained Croom as a reward.[4] He died in 1203 and was succeeded by his 9-year-old son Maurice an Brathair (or Maurice the Friar), 2nd Baron Offaly. When Maurice came of age in 1215, King John confirmed him in possession of his fathers’ estates. From 1232 to 1245 he was a Justiciar of Ireland and took a leading part in the conquest of Connaught in 1235.[5] During his latter years, Maurice took the habit of a friar. He died in 1257 at the Franciscan Friary in Youghal which he founded some years earlier.[6]

Maurice an Brathair’s eldest son Gerald died fighting on Henry II’s disastrous expedition to Poitou in 1243 leaving a son "Maurice Ruadh" (Maurice the Red) who succeeded as 3rd Baron Offaly.[7] Maurice married Agnes Herbert, a cousin of Henry III, but drowned sailing back to Ireland in July 1268. His son Gerald was killed in the battle of Thomond in 1287. The Offaly estates then passed to Gerald’s cousin, John FitzThomas FitzGerald, son of the founder of the Triniatrain Church in Adare. Geraldine lore tells how baby John was asleep in his father's castle at Woodstock, near Athy, when a fire broke out. In the confusion, the child was forgotten and after the fire his bedroom was found to be a smoldering ruin. A strange sound then arose from one of the towers and on looking up the servants beheld an ape, normally chained, carefully holding the child in his arms. In gratitude the Earl later adopted the monkey as his crest along with the motto "Non Immemor Beneficii" (“Be Mindful of Kindness”). In 1287 he succeeded his slain cousin Gerald as 5th Baron Offaly. He subsequently acquired or inherited vast tracts of land in Leinster, Munster and Connaught and became chief of the Geraldines. A close comrade of Edward Longshanks during his war against the Scots, John was created Earl of Kildare on 14th May 1316, He died in Maynooth Castle on 10th November that same year.

The 1st Earl married Blanche Roche, a daughter of the Baron of Fermoy, by whom he had a son and heir, Thomas.[8] Four years after his succession Thomas was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland. His wife, Lady Joan, was a daughter of Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster, making him a co-in law of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland. He died at Maynooth in April 1328 leaving two small sons. The eldest died at Rathangan three years later, upon which the younger brother, Maurice, succeeded as 4th Earl. In 1347, the year of the Black Death, the 29-year-old Maurice was summoned to attend Edward III with 30 men-at-arms and 40 hobelars.[9] He fought with distinction during the “Hundred Years War” against France, receiving a knighthood for his conduct at the siege of Calais. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Bartholomew Burghersh, KG, by whom he left two sons on his death in the summer of 1390.

The eldest son Gerald, 5th Earl, enjoyed a high profile career as Lord Deputy and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but died without male heir in 1410.[10] He was succeeded by his brother John the Humpbacked (Sean Cam), who converted the castle at Maynooth into "one of the largest and richest Earl Houses in Ireland". Sean Cam died in 1427 and was succeeded by his only son, Thomas, 7th Earl of Kildare. Like his uncle Gerald, the 7th Earl was an influential player in Irish politics. He served as Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1454 and 1455, and was a member of the government until 1459. In 1468 he was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland but was soon after arrested and attainted for conspiring to overthrow the government. He was subsequently pardoned, restored in blood and made Lord Justice. He died in March 1477 and was succeeded by his son Gerald – or Garret Mor - as 8th Earl.[11]


During the latter decades of the 15th century, Garret Mor and his son Gerald Og engineered a system of “bastard feudalism” that effectively made the House of Kildare the most powerful force in medieval Ireland. England was still recuperating from the chaos of the War of the Roses in which the Lancastrian army of Henry Tudor (Henry VII) finally defeated the Yorkists at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. Garrett was a Yorkist supporter. In 1477, he had served as Lord Deputy to Richard, Duke of York. Despite this, Henry VII conceded to Garret’s continued service as Lord Deputy after Bosworth. In May 1487, Garret took an ill-advised gamble when he supported the child pretender Lambert Simnel’s bid for the English throne and had him crowned “King Edward VI” in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral. Henry VII responded by presenting the real Edward in public to prove Simnel a fraud. He then declared a general pardon to all involved on condition they immediately submit. By now Garret’s brother Thomas FitzGerald of Lackagh had assembled an army to defend the new “king” while a further 2000 Flemish mercenaries arrived from the continent. The Irish-Flemish army crossed to Lancashire in June and met Henry’s army at Stoke. The English were triumphant and amongst the dead at battle’s end was Thomas FitzGerald.[12] Remarkably Garrett managed to make his peace with the Tudor monarch and was reinstated as Lord Deputy. Henry understood FitzGerald’s power, declaring that “if all Ireland cannot rule this man, let him rule all Ireland”. In 1497, Garret and his cousin the Earl of Desmond jointly quashed the rising of another pretender Perkin Warbeck at Cork. He also defeated the rebel Earl of Clanricarde at the Battle of Knock Tuagh in 1504 and ran to ground many other Irish Confederates who were in opposition to the Tudors. While watering his horse in the River Greese at Kilkea in the autumn of 1513, he was shot by one of the O'Carrolls. He died some days later and was buried before the high altar in Christ Church.[13]

Garret Mor’s first wife, Lady Alison, was a daughter and co-heir of Rowland Eustace, Baron of Portlester. Their son, Garret Og, the 9th Earl, continued with the policy of systematic pacts with potential allies.[14] A marital alliance between his daughter Eleanor and Con More O’Neill, chief of the O’Neill clan, enabled him to secure the support of the other Irish septs, who effectively became his vassals and paid him protection money. The Tudor administration, unnerved by Garret’s escalating power, repeatedly summoned him to London to explain himself. While proclaiming his absolute loyalty in London, Gerald was masterminding a series of assault on the English Pale by his Irish allies. Thus, when arrested in 1528, he orchestrated the kidnap of Lord Devlin, Ireland’s Chief Justice. Exasperated, the English sent Gerald back to Ireland to restore peace. Upon his return, the Irish immediately desisted with their rebellion and released Devlin. It was clear England could not rule Ireland without Garret’s support. In 1532 he was installed as Lord Deputy.[15]


However, during the late 1520s, Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey’s advanced spy network had begun to unravel the secrets of Garret Og’s success. In February 1534, he was again summoned to London, leaving his 22-year-old son “Silken Thomas”, Lord Offaly, in charge.[16] Garret commanded his son to be "wise and prudent" and to submit in all things to "the sound and sage advice of the council". Thus, while FitzGerald’s Irish allies should once again attack the Pale, Thomas himself must refrain or the whole Geraldine dynasty would be endangered. Silken Thomas, a hot-headed young man, did not understand the intricacies of his fathers’ policy. In June 1534, following a false rumour that his father had been executed, he made the fatal error of taking personal command of the rebellion against the Dublin government. When Archbishop Allen was murdered, the Pope became involved; both Gerald and Thomas were excommunicated. A vast army under Lord Deputy Sir William Skeffington was rapidly dispatched across the Irish Sea. Meanwhile, Garret Og took ill “of thought and pain” and passed away. A brutal war engulfed the eastern half of Ireland for the next eighteen months. Despite some initial victories, Silken Thomas and his allies were completely outnumbered. In March 1535, an English force of 2300 men took the Kildare’s stronghold at Maynooth. The defending garrison was given what became known as the “Maynooth Pardon” (ie: they were all put to death). Four months later, Silken Thomas was obliged to surrender on promise of a full pardon. This pledge was violated as Thomas and five of his uncles were incarcerated in the Tower of London for 16 months. On 3rd February 1537, the six FitzGeralds were led to the scaffold at Tyburn, hung, drawn and quartered. Their land-holdings in Ireland were simultaneously forfeited and leased to those who had helped suppress the Rebellion. In 1541 Henry VIII was declared King of Ireland. Silken Thomas married Frances, a daughter of Sir Adrian Fortescue but, leaving no children, the Earldom devolved upon his young half-brother, Gerald.


Known as the Wizard Earl on account of his expertise in astrology, Gerald was only 12 years old when he became head of the FitzGeralds of Kildare. After the murder of his brother and uncles, he became the subject of enormous sympathy throughout Ireland. He was swiftly escorted to Europe before Henry VIII’s men could catch him and there he remained until Henry’s death, living with his cousin Cardinal Pole in France and serving as Master of the Horse to Cosmo de Medici, Duke of Florence. In 1549 the new Boy-King Edward VI restored Gerald to most of the FitzGerald estates forfeited 18 years earlier. Queen Mary subsequently restored his hereditary honours. In 1570 he erected White Castle in Athy to defend the strategic crossing over the River Barrow. He himself resided in Kilkea Castle, built by Hugh de Lacy in 1180, where he is said to have practiced magic in one of the rooms there. He died in London in 1585 and was buried in Kildare.[17] He left two sons, Henry and William, by his wife Mabel, daughter of Sir Anthony Browne.[18] Henri na Taugh (Henry of the Battleaxes), 12th Earl (1562 - 1597), married a daughter of Earl of Nottingham but died without male heir in 1597. [19] His unmarried brother William succeeded as 13th Earl but was lost at sea a few months later and once again the Earldom shifted to a cousin.


The Earldom seems to have been nothing but a curse for the first part of the 17th century – both the 14th and 15th Earls died young – but in November 1620 it came to another Gerald, then 9 years old, known to posterity as the “Fairy Earl”. A man of Machiavellian persuasion, Gerald’s principal ambition was to survive. Considering the violent age during which his life was set, he fared remarkably well. He effectively steered clear of both the Confederate or Cromwellian armies during the 1640s although Maynooth Castle, chief residence and stronghold of the Kildare Geraldines since the 13th century, was captured and destroyed by the Confederate forces of Own Roe O'Neill. The 16th Earl subsequently relocated to Kilkea Castle. His wife, Lady Joan, was a daughter of the fabulously wealthy 1st Earl of Cork and sister of the eminent scientists Robert Boyle.

The Fairy Earl died on the eve of the Restoration of Charles II and was succeeded by his eldest son, Wentworth FitzGerald.[20] Little is known of the 17th Earl save that he married Lady Elizabeth Holles, a daughter of the Earl of Clare, lived at Gragemellon near Athy and was succeeded in 1664 by his baby son James who died without issue in Oxfordshire in 1707. Wentworth’s brother Robert also lived at Grangemellon and was Comptroller of the Musters and Cheques for the Army in Ireland. He also served as Governor and Custos Rotulorum for Kildare. In 1663 he married Mary Clotworthy, niece of Viscount Masserene; their son Captain Robert FitzGerald duly succeeded as 19th Earl. Based between Kilkea and the family’s Dublin townhouse on Suffolk Street, Robert emerged as a formidable statesman during the reigns of Queen Anne, George I and George II. On 7th March 1709, he married Lady Mary O’Brien, eldest daughter of 3rd Earl of Inchiquin. They had twelve children, only two of whom survived - Margaret, Countess of Hillsborough, and James, later 1st Duke of Leinster.


Upon his father’s death in February 1744, 22-year-old James FitzGerald succeeded as 20th Earl of Kildare. The young man had close to 50,000 acres and an annual income of about £15,000. He also commanded a large block of MPs in the Irish House of Commons, while generally continuing the ancestral custom of symbolic opposition to Westminster and its minions in Dublin Castle.

In 1745 he laid the foundations of Kildare House (now Leinster House) on Dublin’s Molesworth Fields, which his father had purchased in 1739. As he predicted, fashionable society swiftly moved south of the River Liffey and began to build their new townhouses in close proximity to the illustrious mansion. He simultaneously recruited the eminent German architect Richard (Cassels) Castle and the Franchini brothers of Italy to oversee the enlargement of Carton House.[21] Surprisingly, given his propensity for such massive houses, Lord Kildare disliked convivial entertaining and had little ability for socializing; he abhorred drinking to excess.

In 1747, he married Lady Emily Lennox, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond, which helped him in terms of contacts in Britain. The Kildares were to become the leading socialites of Ireland during the latter half of the 18th century. In December 1753, he won the respect of the people of Dublin when he went to London and protested against the corruption of the Irish government then headed up by the Duke of Dorset, his son Lord George Sackville and Primate Stone. Thousands of Dubliners crowded into the courtyard of Leinster House to show their appreciation and the government was quickly reshaped. Lord and Lady Kildare, both passionate about Ireland, were of the firm opinion that Irish landlords should live in Ireland. James’s rise through the British hierarchy culminated in his advancement to the Duchy of Leinster on 26th November 1766. He died on 19th November 1773 aged 51. One would have thought his ever-loving wife might call it quits having already given birth to nineteen children. As it happens, she eloped with the children’s tutor, Mr. Ogilvie, and had another two!

Lady Emily was a devotee of Rousseau and his book Émile, or Treatise on Education, which warned against ‘the perils of swaddling’ and proposed practical lessons from the outdoor and everyday world rather than strict book learning. Rousseau urged his readers to “harden [children's] bodies against the intemperance of season, climates, elements; against hunger, thirst, fatigue." Sea bathing, fresh air and outdoor exercise is no longer a mere healthy entertainment; it becomes the focus of the children's education. There was little in the way of punishment. Away from their father's stern, unyielding eye, the young FitzGeralds also turned their hands to gardening, plowing, haymaking, and plucking weeds from the cornfields which they would put into huge piles to burn; all this taught them a respect for the land and its moral lessons. Religious instruction was confined to simple prayers and uncomplicated words about God’s goodness rather than banging on about man's sin. Lessons comprised of Latin, French, mathematics and grammar, poetry, prayers, ancient history, travels and geography. The Duchess was fanatical about good handwriting. Otherwise they ran races, drew from nature, walked barefoot and learned things like carpentry and needlework. The boys occasionally went into Dublin City to have extra lessons in geometry and fencing. In the evenings, the children read plays and novels and occasionally staged private theatricals, despite the Duke’s resistance.


The most famous of the sons was the fifth, Lord Edward FitzGerald.[22] A profoundly romantic Byronesque figure in Irish revolutionary history, Edward served with the British during the American War of Independence. Lord Edward was wounded and reported missing in September 1781. It took the Duchess nearly five months before she heard he was safe. She rejoiced immediately but she had suffered considerable alarm in the meantime. Edward subsequently became one of the principal leaders of the United Irishmen, a radical but liberal society of Protestants, Presbyterians and Catholics determined to remove English control of Irish affairs. He was arrested on 19th May 1798 but mortally wounded during the process. One cannot help but wonder whether the subsequent Rebellion might have succeeded had he lived. His wife Pamela, widely believed to be the illegitimate daughter of the Duc d’Orleans, gave him a son Edward and two daughters, “Little Pam” and Lucy.[23]

Edward’s elder brother William, 2nd Duke of Leinster, was born on 13th March 1749. When he was 16 years old, the premature death of his brother George left him next in line for the Duchy to which he succeeded in 1773. He was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland at the age of 21. On 4th November 1775, he married Emilia Olivia, only daughter and heiress of St. George Usher, Lord St. George. When Arthur Young visited Carton the following summer, he considered the park to be “among the finest of Ireland … a vast lawn, which waves over gentle hills, surrounded by plantations of great extent … [the whole] kept in the highest order by 11,000 sheep and bounded by a large margin of wood, through which is a riding. At a small distance from the park is a new town, Maynooth, which the Duke has built; it is regularly laid out and consists of good houses”. The 2nd Duke died aged 55 at Carton on 20th October 1804 and was buried in St. Bridget’s Cathedral, Kildare.

Augustus Frederick FitzGerald, 3rd Duke of Leinster, was born at Carton on 21st August 1791.[24] At the age of 14 he succeeded to his father’s titles and estates. In 1815, he sold Leinster House to the Royal Dublin Society for £10,000 and a yearly rent of £600 (later redeemed).[25] The purpose of the society was to improve the wretched conditions of the people. He was elected Grandmaster of the Freemasons of Ireland in 1813, when he was 22, a position he retained until his death on 10th October 1874. In the summer of 1818 he married Lady Charlotte Stanhope, youngest daughter of the 3rd Earl of Harrington who, like the Duke’s Norman ancestor, was Constable of Windsor Castle. The Duke was on the Privy Council of Ireland and served as both Lord Lieutenant and custos rotulorum of Co. Kildare. From 1846 to 1849, he led the Irish Whigs and acted as sometime Lord Justice. He occupied several subsidiary positions, such as the presidency of the Royal Agricultural Improvement Society of Ireland, and was involved in the Dublin Relief Committee, the Calcutta Trust and the Navigation Committee. After Lord John Russell and the Whigs took office in July 1846, the Duke was regularly consulted for information and opinions on various aspects of Irish affairs. He anticipated the Irish Famine but was appalled by the extent to which it occurred. In 1849 he restored Kilkea Castle to its present proportions. That summer, a jaunting car made its way up Carton’s tree-lined avenue and out stepped Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Duchess died in 1859. Augustus survived her for fifteen years and died in 1874.

Charles William FitzGerald, 4th Duke of Leinster, was born on 30th March 1819. He was a member of the Privy Council and Honorary Colonel of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. On 13th October 1847, he married Lady Caroline Leveson-Gower, 3rd daughter of the 2nd Duke of Sutherland, KG. Her brother Frederick died of fever at Sebastopol in 1854 but otherwise the Sutherland family did very well, notching up the Dukes of Westminster, Argyll and Leinster for the daughters and other noble ladies for the sons. His youngest brother, Otho, was one of Queen Victoria’s most prominent courtiers, serving variously as Treasurer and Comptroller of the Household and Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.[26] On 3rd May 1870, while his father was still alive, Charles was created Baron Kildare. On the death of his father in 1874, 55-year-old Charles became 4th Duke and succeeded to an estate of more than 70,000 acres. He died on 10th February 1887; his Duchess died the same year.[27]

Lord Edward FitzGerald, 7th Duke of Leinster, was born in London on 6th May 1892. His father, Gerald, the shy, retiring 5th Duke, died 18 months later and his six-year-old brother Maurice succeeded as 6th Duke. In 1895, his 31-year-old mother - "the beautiful tubercular Hermione" Duncombe - died of consumption.[28] With two elder brothers, Edward had no real prospects of the family inheritance. When he was 21 years old, he married an actress, May Etheridge, mother to his only child, Gerald. They ceased living together in 1915 (and divorced in 1930) and he went to war with the West Riding Regiment. On 3rd March 1916, his brother Desmond, an enormously popular character on the Irish social scene, was killed when an army chaplain accidentally detonated a hand grenade in France. In February 1922 the 35-year-old 6th Duke, plagued by a brain tumor since 1916, died unmarried in Edinburgh. Edward was now the Premier Duke, Marquess and Earl in the Peerage of Ireland. He was also an enormously wealthy young man. Or should have been. Alas, the new Duke’s penchant for gambling had long been a source of woe to the trustees of the Leinster fortunes. Before the war, a wily businessman Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley lent him £60,000 on condition that should he ever he become Duke of Leinster (an unlikely prospect with two elder brothers), the income of the family estates in Ireland would go directly to Sir Harry and his heirs for the remainder of Edward’s lifetime. Edward readily accepted the money and promptly blew it all on women and casinos. Upon his unexpected succession in 1922, Edward was obliged to pay Sir Harry an annual income of £80,000. Sir Harry genially returned him £1000 every year.

In July 1922 the Duke laid a £3,000 bet that he could drive from London to Aberdeen in 15 hours. He did it in 14 ½ but was fined £2 for speeding. In 1923 he was summoned before the Bankruptcy Court who discovered he had debts of £25,300 and an income £20 a week. A few months later he was found guilty of obtaining credit on false pretences. He quickly ran away to America where, in 1932, he married Brooklyn-born Rafaelle Davidson Kennedy. During World War Two, he served with his cousin Dennis in the Irish Guards, retiring with rank of Captain in 1942. His failure to discharge his debts meant he lost his right to sit in the House of Lords or to take part in the Coronation ceremonies of 1937 and 1953.

In 1949, Carton House was sold to the Liverpool brewing magnate, Lord Brocket. His grandson Lord Charlie Brocket became a household name after his appearance in the 2003 edition of “I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here”. In 1977 the Brockets sold the house to the Mallaghan family from Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. Under the Mallaghan’s ownership, the Carton estate was developed into a major golf and country club. In December 2017, The Irish Times reported that a Nama-backed sale of the four star Carton House hotel and golf resort had been completed with a closing price believed to be about €57 million. The resort hotel was sold by the Mallaghan and Kelly families to Irish American businessman John Mullen. Mr Mullen is the founder and chairman of the Philadelphia-based Apple Leisure Group, operating one of the largest vacation companies and tour operators in North America.

State papers released in 2003 apparently revealed that, despite a close friendship with Edward VIII, the Duke managed to have a fling with Wallis Simpson during the Abdication Crisis of 1936. He divorced Rafaelle in 1946 and married the stage actress Jessie Smither, with whom he ran a tea-shop in Rye.[29] In 1964 he was finally discharged from bankruptcies. The following year he married his housekeeper Vivien Felton. On 15th July 1975 took his seat in the House of Lords for the first time. On 8th March 1976 he died by his own hand.

By his first marriage, the 7th Duke had a son, Gerald, born on 27th May 1914 and raised by his aunt, Lady Maurice Fitzgerald, at Johnstown Castle in Co. Wexford. After an education at Eton and Sandhurst, Gerald moved to. On 17th October 1936 he married Joane, eldest daughter of Major Arthur McMurrough Kavanagh, MC, of Borris House. They had two daughters, Rosemary and Nesta, and lived between Kilkea Castle and Ballyragget, Co. Kilkenny where Gerald was joint Master of the North Kilkenny Foxhounds until 1940.[30] He served as a Major with the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoons in World War Two before injury invalided him from the army. He was subsequently Master of the West Percy Foxhounds (1945-46) and the Portman Foxhounds (1946-47). He and Joane were divorced in 1946, in which year he married secondly Anne, daughter of Colonel Philip Eustace Smith, MC, TB, of Rothley Crag in, Northumberland. By this marriage he had two sons Maurice, the present Duke, and John. In February 1972, Maurice married Fiona Hollick, mother of his only son Thomas FitzGerald, Earl of Offaly, and two daughters. Lord Offaly was tragically killed in a car accident in East Cork on 9th May 1997 at the age of 23.[31]



[1] Whilst Nesta’s beauty is not doubted, it is important to note that much of the history of the early Geraldines was written by her grandson, Giraldus Cambrensis, a brilliant pioneer of present day spin doctor tactics.

[2] Alice’s paternal grandfather, Roger de Montgomery, led the centre of the Norman army at the battle of Hastings, while her maternal great-grandfather was Brian Boru, high king of Ireland.

[3] Maurice's eldest son William was confirmed in the lands at Offelan in 1185 and became 1st Baron Naas. Another son Thomas married Elinor, daughter of Jordan de Marisco, Justiciar of Ireland, and was ancestor of the Earls of Desmond, the White Knight, the Knights of Glin and Kerry and the Fitzmaurices, Lords of Kerry. The youngest son Maurice was ancestor of the FitzGeralds, Barons of Burnchurch, Co. Kilkenny.

[4] It is from this town that the Geraldines acquired their war-cry "Crom a boo!" meaning "Croom to Victory".

[5] For this he was rewarded with further lands, including three castles in Co. Sligo, Lough Mask in Co. Mayo and the manors of Ardrahan and Kilcolgan in Galway.

[6] He also founded a Dominican Friary in Sligo.

[7] Gerald’s brother “Maurice the Bald” was Justiciar of Ireland in 1272 and succeeded to the 2nd Baron Offaly’s lands at Tyrconnell, Fermanagh and Connaught. He married Emelina de Longespee, a granddaughter of Walter de Riddesford, and by her acquired the manors of Kilkea and Castledermot. He died at Ross, Co. Wexford, in 1286 leaving two daughters. A third brother Thomas of Banda founded the Trinitarian Abbey in Adare to attend to wounded Crusaders. He married Rohesia de St. Michael, daughter of Baron de Reban, and so acquired the manors of Athy and Woodstock. He died at Ballyloughmask, Co. Mayo, in 1271, leaving a son John, 5th Baron Offaly and 1st Earl of Kildare.

[8] There were also two daughters – Joan, who married Sir Edmund Butler, Earl of Carrick MacGriffin (ancestor of the House of Ormonde), and Elizabeth, who married Sir Nicholas Netterville (ancestor of Viscounts Netterville).

[9] A hobelar was a mounted infantryman, armed with a spear, typical of Irish warfare and later adopted by the English under Edward I.

[10] He was buried in the Grey Abbey of Kildare. His daughter Joan married the 4th Earl of Ormonde.

[11] The 7th Earl married Lady Joan FitzGerald, daughter of the 7th Earl of Desmond. She died in 1486 and was buried in Adare.

[12] Sir Thomas of Lackagh, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1484), was ancestor of the FitzGeralds of Lackagh, Kilrush and Narraghbeg, all in Kildare. Another brother James married Eleanor Fitzgibbon, daughter of the White Knight, and was ancestor of the FitzGeralds of Mullaghmast, Kilmeed and Birtown, also in Co. Kildare.

[13] Holinshed describes him as "a mightie man of stature, full of honoure and courage who had bin Lord Deputie and Lord Justice of Ireland three and thirtie years. Kildare was in government milde, to to his enemies sterne. He was open and playne, hardly able to rule himself when he was moved; in anger not so sharp as short, being easily displeased and sooner appeased".

[14] From the 8th Earl’s second marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Oliver St. John of Lydiard Tregoze, were descended the FitzGeralds of Balloagh and Fortinure and the FitzGeralds of Glassealy, Co. Kildare.

[15] A stone table from 1533 which Garret used to convene his Council is to be found in the grounds of Carton House He also founded a college at Maynooth which, though suppressed by Henry VIII, later became site of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, the chief centre of training for the Catholic diocesan clergy in Ireland.

[16] Silken Tomas was so called on account of the silken fringes worn on the helmets of his cavalry. His mother was Elziabeth Zouche, daughter of Sir John Zouche. She married the 9th Earl in 1503 and died at Lucan in 1517. The 9th Earl then married Lady Elizabeth Grey, a daughter of the 1st Marquess of Dorset, by whom he had further issue, including his eventual heir, Gerald, the Wizard Earl.

[17] Tradition holds that the Wizard Earl was buried in the great rath at Mullaghmast outside Ballitore. His ghost emerges every seven years, mounted on a horse shod in silver shoes, and the two of them are often to be seen having a gallop around the Curragh.

[18] His firstborn son, Gerald, Lord Offaly, predeceased him in 1580. Gerald was born at Maynooth on 28th December 1559. He married Katherine, daughter of Sir Francis Knoylls and by her had one daughter Lettice, Baroness Offaly, who married Sir Robert Digby. He died in 1580.

[19] In 1605 Henry’s only child Bridget married the 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, who was attainted in 1608.

[20] Wentworth’s sister Elizabeth married, first, the 2nd Earl of Clancarty and then Sir William Davies, Chief Justice.

[21] Carton stands on lands formerly leased to the Talbot family by the 14th Earl of Kildare in 1603. In 1703 the house was sold at auction to Richard Ingoldsby, from whose family it reverted to the Fitzgeralds. Richard Castle actually died at Carton in 1751.

[22] The 1st Duke’s other sons were George, Charles, Henry and Robert. Lord George died aged 17 in 1765. Lord Charles was created Lord Lecale of Ardglass, Co. Down, and served as a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy and Muster Master General of Ireland. His only son Henry was killed in action at sea off Civita Vecchia in 1803. Lord Henry married Charlotte, Baroness de Ros, in 1791 and died in 1829 leaving issue. Lord Robert married Sophia Fielding in 1792 and had a son George who, in 1834, married Mary, daughter of Thomas Barton of Grove, Co. Tipperary (qv). The 1st Duke’s only daughter, Lady Charlotte FitzGerald, was created Baroness Rayleigh in 1821 and married the English politician Joseph H. Strutt, MP.

[23] Captain Edward FitzGerald was born in 1794 and served with the 10th Hussars, 3rd Dragoons and 52nd Foot. In November 1827, he married Jane Paul, daughter of Sir John Dean Paul. He died on 25th January 1863, leaving a daughter Pamela, who married James Turner of Llwynderid, co. Montgomery. His sister Pamela, known as “Little Pam”, married the Waterloo hero Sir Guy Campbell and died on 25th November 1869. In 1825, his other sister Lucy married Capt GF Lyons of the Royal Navy.

[24] Augustus’s sister Cecilia married the 3rd Baron Foley. Another sister Olivia married the influential Scottish magnate, 8th Baron Kinnaird of Perthsire

[25] The same year he employed the Cork architect Richard Morris to make alterations to Carton.

[26] Lord Otho Fitzgerald was MP for Co. Kildare from 1865 to 1874. In December 1861 he married Ursula, widow of the wealthy 1st Baron Londesborough of Denbies and daughter of Admiral Charles Orlando Bridgeman. They had a son Major Gerald FitzGerald (1862 - 1919) and a daughter Ina who married Colonel Arthur Leopold Paget.

The 4th Duke’s other brother Captain Lord Gerald FitzGerald served with the Scots Fusiliers and his sister Jane married George WJ Repton, MP.

[27] The 4th Duke fathered eight sons and seven daughters. The second son, Lord Maurice was Lord lieutenant of Co. Wexford and married the eldest daughter of the Earl of Granard; their only son Gerald was killed in action in France in September 1914. The third, Lord Frederick, was for many years Commissioner for National Education in Ireland. The fifth was the family historian and important antiquarian Lord Walter FitzGerald. The seventh, Lord George, was Private Secretary to the Governor of Jamaica. The youngest, Lord Henry, worked with the Records Office during the Great War and was father to Brigadier Dennis FitzGerald who commanded the Irish Guards from 1950 to 1952.

[28] She was the eldest daughter of the 1st Earl of Feversham.

[29] By her previous marriage to the 3rd Baron Churston, Jessie was grandmother to the Aga Khan.

[30] In 2002 Lady Rosemary FitzGerald, a prolific and expert seed collector, was awarded the prestigious Marsh Christian Award for Botanical Preservation for her work on the conservation of aquatic plants and the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

[31] Born in 1988, Edward FitzGerald, son of Lord Kildare’s brother John, is now in line for the Dukedom.

44-year-old Thomas Beatty of the Salvation Army was recorded as Land Steward at Kilkea Castle on the 1911 Census. The Beatty family were in Ardfert, County Kerry, on the 1901 Census. His daughter Elizabeth married Drum Major George Alexander Scotland, Cameroon Highlanders, of Inverness; their daughter (Alice) Elizabeth Scotland was born at Kilkea on 25 March 1915. (Info via Alistair Batchen, 2021).