Family and friends remember 'true patriot' as Knight of Glin laid to rest
Published 26/09/2011 | 05:00
IN the same tradition as his father and grandfather, a 100-year-old horse-drawn cart was used to carry the last Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald, to his final resting place.
More than 800 people made their way to the west Limerick village as a 700-year-old title came to an end with the funeral of the 29th Knight of Glin.
His wife Olda and daughters Catherine, Nesta, and Honor, led mourners at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Shortly after 2pm, the coffin was carried from Glin Castle to the waiting cart. The red cart was decorated on either side with ivy from the gardens and was driven by John 'Bosco' McMahon (66), of Lisselton, Co Kerry.
It was Mr FitzGerald's wish that he be brought to the church and grave by cart, in the same fashion as the 28th and 27th Knights of Glin.
He was the first and last knight to have his funeral celebrated in the local Catholic church, having donated the nearby Church of Ireland to Glin Development Association. It is now a Church of Ireland educational facility.
Uilleann piper Ronan Browne performed a lament, 'The Chulainn', as the oak coffin was lifted on to the shoulders of his staff and brought inside. Pall-bearers included the knight's son-in-law, actor Dominic West. Just a year ago, West was married to Catherine FitzGerald at the same church.
Among the mourners were Guinness heir Garech Browne, antiques dealer George Stacpoole, Prof Anne Crookshank of Trinity College, Jack Leslie of Castle Leslie and Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan.
Flowers from the garden decorated the altar and many of Mr FitzGerald's neighbours listened to proceedings outside.
The coffin was draped with the knight's standard, which has flown at half-mast since he died on September 15.
Archdeacon of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe, Robert Warren said it was the end of an era. He said there was a sadness when lines such as the Knight of Glin's came to an end.
"These family titles give a focal point and sense of community and for that we should be thankful," he added.
Daughters Honor and Catherine read poems, along with West before a tribute was paid by Edward McParland of the Irish Architectural Archive. He described the deceased as a true patriot to Glin.
"Everything in his life centred on Glin. For this most cosmopolitan man, Ireland was the centre of the world and Glin was the centre of Ireland. What pleased him inordinately was any genuine interest shown in the history of Irish families and their buildings, furniture, gardens, silver, plasterwork, books, music, pictures and sculpture.
"He never rested when he was alive and I think he would hate the notion of heavenly rest.
"Instead, he will be forever energetically alive in our memories and may he live forever in the memory of all who cared for everything that is best about Ireland.
"Long live the FitzGerald house of Glin," Mr McParland said.
Afterwards, the horse and cart led the family to the nearby Knight's Plot for the burial, with 'An Buachaill Caol Dubh' sounding from the uilleann pipes.
The cart used was made in Listowel a century ago and in older times was used to carry milk to the creamery, draw stones and bring passengers to Mass.
It was led by Martin Kennedy of Asdee, Co Limerick, and a 10-year-old horse named Bob.