Imagine for just a moment that you are sitting upon a vibrantly green and grassy hill in a valley known as Glin, located in what will later be known as County Limerick, Ireland. It is sometime in the early fourteenth century, and you watch the shimmering waters of the Shannon estuary running into the North Atlantic Ocean. You look behind you toward Shanid Castle, the first stronghold built roughly one thousand years ago to protect your land, otherwise known as Shanid, and your family, otherwise known as the Fitzgerald clan.
You survey the lush valley rising up around you and consider the resources it would take to build a new home for your clan, hoping the home would stand long enough to house the memories of your grandchildren and perhaps their children’s children. In this day and time, you could never be too sure; battles over land and property between the Normans, the English, the Scots, and the Irish were rampant. You pick up the largest stone nearest to you and heave it back down on the earth. At the top of your lungs you cry out “Shanid a boo!” (Shanid forever), marking your rock as the cornerstone of Glin Castle, home to the Knights of Glin, the family of Fitzgerald.
Little did you know that the foundation you worked to build on that fertile soil, brilliant with the one hundred shades of green for which your beloved Emerald Isle is known, would stay in the Fitzgerald family for 700 years. It would serve as a family home, country hotel, celebrity and international guest house, working dairy farm, vacation home for university professors, and so much more than the narratives of time could ever describe. The last surviving Knight of Glin, Desmond Fitzgerald (July 13, 1937 – September 14, 2011), would work tirelessly to preserve its history, the treasures, artifacts, and valuables that told the story of your family’s dreams.
In 1949, at the age of twelve, he would purchase, for one pound, a sculpture of Andromeda that would grace the walled garden his wife would adore and nurture. He would spend the rest of his life lovingly restoring the castle to its former glory and advocating for the conservation of Georgian architecture in Ireland. Although, the ceiling of the castle’s great hall would remained untouched to preserve the original quality and spirit of the Fitzgerald ancestors who created it. Symbols of Ireland would persist throughout, including celtic harps, claddaghs, and the first decorative representation of the shamrock.
And so, as we in America ponder the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, it is to the small village of Glin that we travel today for our home tour. As we glance through the pictures of this majestic home, filled to the brim with artifacts that tell its historical narrative, we wonder who made the decorative tassels that adorn many of the curtains and walls in the castle. Not unlike our shamrock tassel, we are sure they were lovingly made to add a personalized touch of style to each room.
Take a look at the glimpses of Castle Glin below. We hope you’ll enjoy looking through this walk through a beautiful piece of Irish history as much as we did. Since the death of Desmond Fitzgerald, Glin Castle is currently for sale and being offered by Sherry Fitzgerald. The family is hoping the estate will be purchased by someone who will appreciate and preserve the enchanting legacy of the Fitzgerald family and the Knights of Glin.
We hope so too.
*Many thanks to Sherry Fitzgerald and Christie’s International Real Estate for providing the photos of this beautiful estate and to the Irish Times, I Love Limerick, and The Irish Aesthete for providing the details to this charming story.