A friendly controversy is being played out in the letters column of the Irish Times concerning the FitzGeralds, earls of Desmond, and the emblem of the wild boar on their coat of arms.
Gerald O’Carroll, author of the book The Earls of Desmond, The Rise and Fall of a Munster Lordship, due to appear later this month, published a letter (Irish Times 5 June 2013) suggesting that the boar came from King Richard III’s gift to the Earl of Desmond in the 1480s: a gold collar with boar pendant.
But Desmond FitzGerald, of CanaryWharf, London, had a different understanding (Irish Times 6 June): the boar was adopted “as a sign of the love” between Earl and an Irish girl, Catherine MacCormac.
Here is yet another suggested origin for the boar emblem. Among the Imokilly Geraldines (Castlemartyr) is the legend of the boar. A wild boar infested the country around Castlemartyr until slain by one of the FitzGeralds, who split its head with a sword and adopted the boar as his coat of arms.
(Timoth Gleeson, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society)