The continuity of medieval and modern is not always appreciated in our secular world today. Modern nationalists, too, are too quick to start the clock of history ticking at the French Revolution. Piers Ferriter, the Kerry insurgent of the 1640s, took a different view. He appreciated his Ferriter ancestry in Kerry from the time of the Anglo-Norman settlement. Ferriter was also a poet. His Lament for Maurice FitzGerald, son of the Knight of Kerry, traces FitzGerald’s descent from the earls of Desmond (also FitzGerald). The extract here is from a translation of the Lament by Maire Cruise O’Brien; Lough Gur (Co. Limerick) and Mogeely (Co. Waterford) were important fortresses at key points in the Earl’s extensive lordship, a lordship long overthrown by Ferriter’s day.
The Lady of Knockany did proclaim
Your loss and Lough Gur’s Earl your fighting name,
Woe rose melodious from Glenorga’s vale
And Shanid sang your Geraldine domain;
In Youghal the female elf upheld your sway,
Moygeela by the Brede alliance claimed,
Nor more could Cahermone nor Kenelmaigue
Nor Imokilly yet wet tears restrain.
The Ferriters and others of the Old English proprietors became impoverished by the subjugation of the Earl of Desmond. Richard Boyle, the leading New English proprietor in Munster, became their creditor and took over many of their estates. But Boyle was careful to marry his daughters among the Desmonds or their affiliates. His daughter Alice Boyle married Barry (the Barrys are actually Geraldines); and the Barrys gave two wives to the Dennys, occupiers of the Earl’s castle in Tralee.
Boyle acknowledged in his diary that the foundation of his fortune was his marriage to Joan Apsley, who was the granddaughter of “Desmond’s wisest cunsellor”, John Browne, who was the last warden of the Hospitaller foundation at Knockainy, near Lough Gur. Boyle’s son became Viscount Dungarvan: Dungarvan was a key possession of the earl of Desmond.