Countess of Ormond

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Ormond, Countess of, Lady Margaret FitzGerald, daughter of the 8th Earl of Kildare, was married in 1485 to Pierce Butler, afterwards 8th Earl of Ormond. She is described by Stanihurst as "manlike and tall of stature, verie liberall and bountifull, a sure friend, a bitter enimie, hardlie disliking where she fansied, not easlie fansieng where she disliked: the onelie meane at those daies whereby hir husband his countrie was reclaimed from sluttishnesse and slouenrie, to cleane bedding and ciuilitie." She is sometimes styled the "Great Countess of Ormond." Her husband died in 1539, and she survived him three years. Mr. Graves thus writes of her in his History of St. Canice's Cathedral: "Margaret, Countess of Ormonde and Ossory,.. 'the fairest daughter' of the Earl of Kildare, was unquestionably one of the most remarkable women of her age and country... Large as is the place filled by the 'Red Earl' in the history of Ireland, it is a singular fact that in the traditions of the peasantry of Kilkenny his existence is utterly forgotten, whilst his consort stands vividly forth as 'the Countess,' or oftener as plain 'Mairgread Gearoid,' forming with 'Cromwell' and the 'Danes' a triad to whom almost everything marvellous, cunning, or cruel is attributed. She is the traditional builder, as Cromwell is the traditional destroyer, of nearly every castle in the district; and by the peasant's fireside, numberless are the tales told of her power, her wisdom, and — truth compels us to add — her oppressions."

Sources

155. Graves, Rev. James: History of the Cathedral Church of St. Canice, Kilkenny. Dublin, 1857.
Graves, Rev. James, see also No. 147.

202. Kildare, The Earls of, and their Ancestors: from 1057 to 1773, with Supplement: Marquis of Kildare. 2 vols. Dublin, 1858-'62.

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