6 July 2019

More about County Kerry

You will recognise this poetic voice:
There in pinnacled protecton,/ One extinguished family waits/ A Church of Ireland resurrection/ By the broken, rusty gates./ Sheepswool, straw and droppings cover,/ Graves of spinster, rake and lover, / Whose fantastic mausoleum/ Sings its own seablown Te Deum, /In and out the slipping slates.

The old and ruined Church of Ireland Church at Knightstown in County Kerry is a little bit like that. When we used to spend our Summer Vacations there, I sometimes passed the time of day with Sir Adrian Fitzgerald, who would be vigorously cutting back the rampant vegetation threatening to cover the graves of his forebears. Because this church was just up the road from Glanleam, the one-time estate of the Fitzgerald Hereditary Knights of Kerry. Sir Adrian no longer owned the property, but had retained ownership of a cottage on the shore of the bay.

The newer Anglican Church down in Knightstown retained the Prayer Books previously used in the Family pew, with 'Glanleam' in gold on the covers. Not that Sir Adrian worshipped there; because he had become a Catholic.

Indeed, he is now Patron of the Latin Mass Society.

Some readers may be surprised by the phrase "Hereditary Knights". Certainly, such beings do not exist in England; but there survives one such family in the West of Ireland. In the reign of Victoria, an attempt was made to bring them to heel by giving them baronetcies, which assured to them the style 'Sir' without accepting that Knighthood really could be hereditary.

I do not, of course, spend my summers now sustaining the Church of Ireland. But I did meet Sir Adrian again a couple of years ago, when I was being splendidly entertained (by a member of the Irish bar who also belongs to Fr Gerald Deighan's congregation in Harrington Street) in a distinctly stylish club on St Stephen's Green.

Sir Adrian was one member of a group of gentlemen who arrived when we were getting ourselves round our main courses. They were members of the once-sovereign Military Order of Malta. One of them recognised me and cheerfully suggested that the Ordinariate was moving into Ireland.

I wish it were ... just as I wish that the Knights were still Sovereign ...


Michael Gormally said...

Father, I believe that Sir Adrian spells his surname thus: FitzGerald. With every good wish and sincere thanks for your highly entertaining and informative blog which I read every day. Michael Gormally.

Ceile De said...

Until recently there were three hereditary knighthoods in Ireland. Sir Adrian is the last.

Confitebor said...

Father, aren't baronetcies a kind of hereditary knighthood?