Raymond FitzGerald or Le Gros

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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FitzGerald, Raymond, surnamed Le Gros, nephew of preceding, son of William FitzGerald, was one of the bravest and most adventurous of the Anglo-Norman invaders of Ireland. Strongbow sent him forward to Ireland with ten men-at-arms and seventy archers, on 1st May 1170. He landed, says Cambrensis, at "Dundunolf, which lies on the sea coast, about four miles from Waterford, and to the south of Wexford: they threw up a rather slight fortification made of turf and boughs of trees." They were almost immediately attacked by a large party of the men of Waterford and Offaly. Raymond and his little party making a sally, gained a complete victory over their assailants; "500 quickly fell by the sword, and when the pursuers ceased striking from sheer weakness, they threw vast numbers from the edge of the cliffs."

They kept seventy of the principal townsmen as prisoners. Shortly after their arrival they were joined by De Marisco, who had come with FitzStephen the previous summer. We are not told much of how they fared until Strongbow's arrival in August, when they placed themselves under his command, and took part in his campaigns against Waterford and Dublin. When Strongbow left Ireland for England, Raymond was associated with Hervey de Marisco in the government. On his return, Raymond asked for his sister Basilia in marriage; but Strongbow rejected his suit, jealous of Raymond's popularity among the soldiers, and Raymond returned to Wales in high displeasure.

The perilous position in which the invaders found themselves before long compelled Strongbow to recall him, and consent to the marriage, giving him at the same time a large dowry of lands and the post of Constable and Standard-bearer of Leinster. The nuptials were immediately celebrated in Wexford, and the next day Raymond marched north to repel an incursion of Roderic O'Conor into Meath. He was too late to prevent the destruction of the castle of Trim. He then turned westward, and besieged and took Limerick, displaying remarkable bravery in fording the Shannon and leading his troops to the assault.

De Marisco forwarded alarming reports to Henry II. of the rising power of Strongbow and Raymond, and commissioners were sent over to watch the one and recall the other. Limerick was soon besieged by O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, and as the soldiers would march only under Raymond, the commissioners had to invest him with the command, or permit the place again to fall into the hands of the Irish and Northmen. Raymond entered into a successful treaty with O'Brien, brought even Roderic to terms, and secured considerable possessions in Desmond from the MacCarthys. In the midst of these successes, he heard from his wife of the death of Strongbow, and, confiding Limerick to O'Brien (who immediately re-established his own authority), marched to Dublin, where the council chose him as Strongbow's successor. The King, still jealous of his influence, before long appointed FitzAdelm de Burgh to the post. This ended Raymond's public career; he appears to have lived the remainder of his life as quietly as the times permitted on his estates at Wexford — seeing occasional service, as when he went to the succour of his uncle FitzStephen in Cork.

He died about 1182. He is thus described by Cambrensis: "Raymond was very stout, and a little above the middle height; his hair was yellow and curly, and he had large, grey round eyes. His nose was rather prominent, his countenance high-coloured, cheerful, and pleasant; and, although he was somewhat corpulent, he was so lively and active that the incumbrance was not a blemish or inconvenience. Such was his care of his troops that he passed whole nights without sleep, going the rounds of the guards himself, and challenging the sentinels to keep them on the alert. . . He was prudent and temperate, not effeminate in either his food or his dress. He was a liberal, kind, and circumspect man; and although a daring soldier and consummate general, even in military affairs prudence was his highest quality."


5. Anglo-Normans, History of the Invasion of Ireland by the: Gerald H. Supple. Dublin, 1856.

148. Giraldus Cambrensis: Topography, and History of the Conquest in Ireland: Forester and Wright. London, 1863.

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