Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Comment on St Petersburg singer Canci Song's Facebook.

(Originally began life as a comment on Dublin resident, and Florida St Petersburg fb friend, singer Canci Song's Facebook.)

A beautiful picture (from Sneem, county Kerry). In the heart of the old Kingdom of Desmond, created by the Treaty of Glanmire in 1118; and the fiefdom of the MacCarthy dynasty.

Gaelic allies and rivals
in a cattle-raiding culture, and local under-bosses to the Hiberno-Norman Munster Fitzgerald capos in a dynasty headed by the fifteen different men to hold power in Fitzgerald Munster under the name, Earl of Desmond. Desmond is the Anglicization of Deas-Mhumhain, South Munster, (Thomond being North Munster), and over the course of four hundred years the assorted lords, barons and fifteen different earls were princely and kingly potentates of 500,000 Munster acres. That this royal European House writ large the history of for four hundred years (12-16C).

A total of twenty royal born men in a dynasty that started out Lords and Barons before going higher up the tree of nobility and reaching top after four generations, and stayed there for another eight. A cast of killers, creators of educational establishments, tyrants, peaceable intellectuals, intriguers at the very highest level, and conspirators with the Pope in a Rebellion, that ended  three years after the siege and mass-slaughter at the harbour in Smerwick, Kerry. 


The Massacre of Smerwick on 12 November 1580, was the brutal turning point and effective start of the end of the three year Second Desmond Rebellion against Elizabeth 1.

A rebellion that began a year earlier in the same place, in July 1579, when a small contingent of papal soldiers had been landed in Smerwick, with a returning Irish leader that had been a decade in European exile, James FitzMaurice FitzGerald, nephew of the de jure 12th Earl Desmond, James FitzGerald

A year later, after papal re-reinforcements arrived at Smerwick harbour and had been immediately trapped there and then surrendered to Elizabethan forces; on the orders of the English commander of them, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Arthur Grey, on 12th November 1580, 400-600 papal and Irish troops were massacred at Dún an Óir ('Fort of the Gold'), an Iron age Promontory fort located near the harbour. Grey writing in his report to Elizabeth: Then put I in certain bands, who straight fell to execution. There were six hundred slain. Those that I gave life unto, I have bestowed upon the captains and gentlemen that hath well deserved.

Present were Sir Walter Ralegh, whose job it was to orchestrate the mass-killing. Although white surrender flags and shouts of “misericordia” had occured, Grey and Raleigh decided to ignore the surrender and it fell to ruthless killer Raleigh to execute the genocide. Which he accomplished in a matter of hours, and the “chief of party” Grey, looking on the six hundred stripped corpses, described the experience of seeing these “gallant and good personages to behold.”


Also present at the massacre, that was also the basis of one of Raleigh's trials, in which he claimed he was obliged to obey the commands of his superior officer - was the secretary to Grey,  and author of Elizabethan idyllic fantasy Fairie Queen; Edmund Spenser - who noted at the time that Raleigh 'had done rough work for Lord Grey.'

Spenser - that played the most significant part in anodising on the page the Elizabethan holocaust in Ireland - was rewarded for his part writing and packaging the murder and mayhem into acceptable Elizabethan prose and poetry propaganda, with a Desmond dynasty castle, Kilcoman, where he wrote The Faerie Queene. In Spenser's Letter of the Authors, he writes that the entire epic poem is "cloudily enwrapped in allegorical devices," and that the aim of publishing The Faerie Queene was to 'fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline.'

Spenser lived for a decade there before the castle was burnt down during the final Tyrone rebellion, four years into the Nine Year War, (1594 - 1603). The end of which, signalling the end of Gaelic civilisation as it had existed since the Iron Age, happened on 29 March 1603, on the floor of Mellifont Abbey, with the final O'Neil Mór, Hugh O'Neill, spread-eagled submitting his neck to the tip of (Lord Mountjoy) Charles Blount's sword, pleading pardon for his actions and swearing to be loyal to the Crown and not seek further assistance from foreign powers.

The twelve generations of aristocratic Desmonds were a mixed bunch of royal rouges and Rebel victims of mass executions (one nephew, Silken Thomas, and six uncles hung on the 3rd of February 1537 at Tyburn), lord chief justices of Ireland, playboys, double-crossers, poets, plunderers, rebels, usurpers, outlaws against the Elizabethan Crown, winners, kings, and, ultimately; a doomed and tragic Medieval family that few in Ireland are today aware existed, never mind that their doings were the historical music of what happened for the four centuries they personally wove the history of Munster and Ireland in Europe.

The Desmonds - (Swords being my mothers maiden name, and Desmond my surname, originating with the paternal grandad, from a townland outside Macroom, deep in the west Cork bog) - trace ourselves back to Maurice FitzGerald. A Cambro-Norman, Norman-Welsh nobleman and mercenary, his official title Lord of Lanstephan, who came over with a band of Norman French speaking soldiers of fortune and Cambro-Norman barons, at the invitation of exiled Irish High King and a king of Leinster, Dermott MacMurrough. And they relatively peaceably seized the island under their leader, the Norman Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, aka Strongbow.

Over the early generations the Fitzgerald dynasty split into two branches, one the Munster Fitzgerald Earls of Desmond and the Other, the Leinster Earls of Kildare. That then became the Dukes of Leinster. The current incumbent Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Duke of Leinster, with his son, Edward FitzGerald, the current heir presumptive.

Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond was the Hiberno Norman aristocrat responsible for the Latin phrase Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis, that translates into English as, more Irish than the Irish. He is known as Gerald the Poet Earl, who ditched Norman French as the language of the Hiberno-Norman aristocrats replacing it with Gaelic. He was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland 1367-70, and, as all Irish lawyers were then, trained in the filidh poet-lawyer training schools that turned out 40 generations of Irish rhymers. He was a trained bard and there's thirty-eight of his poems that survived scattered across manuscript.

His most famous translated poem is
Mairg adeir olc ris na mnáibh - Speak not ill of womankind.

Speak Not Ill of Womankind.
'Tis no wisdom if you do.
You that fault in women find,
I would not be praised of you.

Sweetly speaking, witty, clear,
Tribe most lovely to my mind,
Blame of such I hate to hear.
Speak not ill of womankind.

Bloody treason, murderous act,
Not by women were designed,
Bells o'erthrown nor churches sacked,
Speak not ill of womankind.

Bishop, King upon his throne,
Primate skilled to loose and bind,
Sprung of women every one!
Speak not ill of womankind.

For a brave young fellow long
Hearts of women oft have pined.
Who would dare their love to wrong?
Speak not ill of womankind.

Paunchy greybeards never more
Hope to please a woman's mind.
Poor young chieftains they adore!
Speak not ill of womankind.


His passing was recorded in the Annals of Clonmacnoise (translated 1627), he is described as follows:
The Lord Garrett earle of Desmond, a nobleman of Wonderfull Bounty, Mirth, cheerfullness in conversation, easie of access, charitable in his deeds, a witty and Ingenious composer of Irish poetry, a learned and profound Chronicler, and in fine one of the English nobility that had Irish learning and professors thereof in greatest reverence of all the English of Ireland, died penitently after receipt of sacraments of Holy Church in due forme.
Annals of Clonmacnoise (translated 1627), he is described as follows:
The Lord Garrett earle of Desmond, a nobleman of Wonderfull Bounty, Mirth, cheerfullness in conversation, easie of access, charitable in his deeds, a witty and Ingenious composer of Irish poetry, a learned and profound Chronicler, and in fine one of the English nobility that had Irish learning and professors thereof in greatest reverence of all the English of Ireland, died penitently after receipt of sacraments of Holy Church in due forme.
- See more at: http://www.drb.ie/essays/the-noble-earl#sthash.6LZmkRQr.dpuf
Annals of Clonmacnoise (translated 1627), he is described as follows:
The Lord Garrett earle of Desmond, a nobleman of Wonderfull Bounty, Mirth, cheerfullness in conversation, easie of access, charitable in his deeds, a witty and Ingenious composer of Irish poetry, a learned and profound Chronicler, and in fine one of the English nobility that had Irish learning and professors thereof in greatest reverence of all the English of Ireland, died penitently after receipt of sacraments of Holy Church in due forme.
- See more at: http://www.drb.ie/essays/the-noble-earl#sthash.6LZmkRQr.dpuf

Annals of Clonmacnoise (translated 1627), he is described as follows:
The Lord Garrett earle of Desmond, a nobleman of Wonderfull Bounty, Mirth, cheerfullness in conversation, easie of access, charitable in his deeds, a witty and Ingenious composer of Irish poetry, a learned and profound Chronicler, and in fine one of the English nobility that had Irish learning and professors thereof in greatest reverence of all the English of Ireland, died penitently after receipt of sacraments of Holy Church in due forme.
- See more at: http://www.drb.ie/essays/the-noble-earl#sthash.6LZmkRQr.dpuf
The final Desmond aristocrat of this four century dynasty, Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, had a bad end. Richard Berleth writes in his 2002 book, The Twilight Lords: Elizabeth I and the First Irish Holocaust: Behind him Desmond left no cool-eyed observers; he moved through his age enveloped in rumors and turmoil, and if his actions repelled some, irresistibly drew others.

His only surviving son, Séamus / James Fitzgerald, was locked in the tower of London for most of his short and miserable thirty years on earth. 

Séamus's father was responsible for the First and Second  Desmond Rebellions, in 1569–1573 and 1579–1583. As a result of his rebellions against Elizabeth 1, the ultimate winner in his feud with the Kildare Fitzgeralds, saw them triumph as the primary upholders of the Crown writ and English culture in Ireland. The 15th and final Earl's second wife Eleanor Butler, Countess of Desmond, was the brain-power behind this final aristocratic Desmond noble. 

Skillfully interceding and trying to keep him alive after the second rebellion failed and most of the Fitzgerald Desmond male heirs were executed in various horrible forms. After three years on the run, moving round a sick man in the woods, as I put it in an unpublished poetic text of mine: 'the 15th Earl of Desmond, was spotted at dusk and slain at dawn in Galnagenty, the 11'th November 1583 by Daniel O’Kelly - a kern for the Clan Moriarty – who rushed a cabin where the forebear Earl's party lay. All escaped but an old man, a woman, and boy.

O'Kelly aimed a sword blow and half severed an arm on the old man, who cried: "I am the Earl of Desmond: spare my life". O'Kelly cut off his head and sent a skull of my Fitzgerald blood to London where it got spiked on the bridge.

His "I" demands a return of my lands and title with immediate effect or I’ll keep him a bondsman in poverty till next years holiday in Scarborough at Summer time - with critical death the distinct possibility, should he jump from a cliff where I unlock an intricate song of the seagull whose wings ring in simple melody a true, kind and continually lilting lullaby, lifting the dream of love.'

 

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