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Fitz Gerald, Fitzgerald: 'fitz' is Norman-French for ’son’. The name Gerald is of Germanic origin, meaning -spear-rule, and there is a tradition that says the Fitzgeralds originated in Schwaben, Germany. Other traditions say that they descend from the Ghiraldini of Florence in Tuscany.
Since Maurice, son of Gerald de Windsor and Welsh Princess Nesta of Deheubarth, came with the Norman invaders in 1170 the Fitzgeralds or Geraldines (which also includes the Carew, Fitzmaurice and Fitzgibbon families) became one of the most powerful tribes in Ireland.
Forming the Earls of Kildare ( a branch of which later received the British title of Dukes of Leinster) and Earls of Desmond in Munster, their fame and fortune grew. In the 15th century Garret Mor, 8th Earl of Kildare, was for 40 years regarded in all but name as King of Ireland. An early Earl of Desmond created his three illegitimate sons Knight of Glin, Knight of Kerry and the (no longer surviving) White Knight (Fitzgibbon).
In succeeding generations many Fitzgeralds who opposed English rule were imprisoned or executed in the Tower of London, as 'Silken Thomas' an inveterate rebel although born in England in 1513 (his mother being English was a cousin of Henry V11). The Earls of Desmond were in rebellion for many terrible years and became extinct in the early 17th century when the 16th Earl was killed in Elizabethan times (Betrayed by a treacherous Moriarty!). They built numerous castles, a number of which are still in good condition.
By the time of Griffith's Valuation (1847-60) most households of Fitzgeralds were in the following counties: Cork (833) Limerick(687)
Kerry (578) Waterford (410) and Tipperary (259)
In the Registrar General's Report on births in 1890, the highest occurrences were in counties Cork, Limerick and Kerry, and it had the 36th most highest count.
Two Famous Fitzgeralds:
Gearóid Iarla, 2nd Earl of Desmond (14th c) magician and wizard who is said to haunt the beautiful Loch Gur in Co Limerick.
Lord Edward FitzGerald (1763-1798) revolutionary and member of the United Irishmen. Died slowly of his untreated wounds in captivity.
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