Old Countess Catherine Desmond

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Desmond, Catherine, Old Countess, second wife of the 12th Earl, was a FitzGerald of Dromana in the County of Waterford. She was married to the Earl in 1529, but a few years before his death, and gave birth to a daughter, married to Philip Barry Oge. Her survival in 1590 is established by her name being mentioned in a deed of that date. Her jointure after the Earl's death was the manor of Inchiquin, five miles from Youghal, where she removed with her daughter; but in 1575 the 15th Earl persuaded her to make it over to him by a deed still in the Record Office, Dublin. Upon Raleigh's arrival in Ireland in 1589, he visited her; and Fynes Moryson described her as "able to goe on foote four or five miles to the market towne, and used weekly soe to doe in her last years." It is thought that she died in 1604, aged about 100. The ordinary account of her life — of her being born in 1464; of her dancing with Richard III.; of her visiting James I., landing at Bristol and walking to London in her 139th year; of her losing her life by falling from a tree when gathering nuts; and other remarkable occurrences — is effectually disposed of by writers in Notes and Queries, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Series, and an article in the Dublin Review for February 1862. It is questionable whether any of her eleven reputed portraits are genuine — most being without doubt portraits of Rembrandt's mother.

Sources

101. Desmond, Old Countess of: Richard Sainthill. 2 vols. Dublin, 1861-'3.

101a. Dublin Review, 1836-'77. See also No. 115a.

254. Notes and Queries. London, 1850-'78.
O'Callaghan, John C., see No. 186.

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