The Desmonds

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Desmonds, The, are properly FitzGeralds; but occupying for centuries the district of "Deasmhumhain " (pronounced Desmond), or "south Munster," they practically lost their original patronymic. (1) THOMAS FITZGERALD, Lord of O'Connelloe, the son of Maurice FitzGerald, one of the Anglo-Norman invaders of Ireland, and a grandson of Nesta [See NESTA], was brother of Gerald FitzGerald, ancestor of the Earls of Kildare and Dukes of Leinster; he died in 1213. (2) JOHN, son of preceding, Lord of O'Connelloe, and of Decies, Desmond, and Dungarvan, was killed at the battle of Callan, in Kerry, in 1261, by his son-in-law, MacCarthy Mor, and was buried in the north part of the monastery of Tralee, of which he was the founder. He was the ancestor of Clan Gibbon, the Knights of Glin, the Knights of Kerry, FitzGeralds of Clane, Seneschals of Imokelly. (3) MAURICE, son of preceding, was slain with his father, in 1261, at the battle of Callan. (4) THOMAS, son of preceding, was called "Thomas an-Apa," or "Thomas Simiacus," from an incident which is thus related in the Desmond Pedigree: "This Thomas, being in his swadling cloaths accidentally left alone in his cradle, was by an ape carryed up to the battlements of the monastery of Traly, where the little beast, to the admiration of many spectators, dandled him to and froe, whilst everyone ran with theire beds and caddows, thinking to catch the child when it should fall from the ape. But Divine Providence prevented that danger; for the ape miraculously bore away the infant, and left him in the cradle as he found him, by which accident this Thomas was ever after nicknamed from the ape." [A similar anecdote is related of the 1st Earl of Kildare, whose family adopted as their crest two monkeys "environed and chained."] In 1295 he acted as Lord-Justice, and dying next year, was buried in the Dominican Friary, Youghal, which he had completed in 1268. The war cry of the Desmonds was "Shanet-a-boo!" "Shanid [castle] to victory!"


52. Burke, Sir Bernard: Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages. London, 1866.

147. Geraldine Documents: Edited by Rev. James Graves: in Journal of the Archaeological Association of Ireland, October, 1869.

147a. Gillespie, Major-General Sir Robert R., Memoir. London, 1816.

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