The Knight of Glin (dormant 14 September 2011), also known as the Black Knight or Knight of the Valley, was a hereditary title in the FitzGerald families of Co Limerick since the early 14th century. The family was a branch of the FitzGerald dynasty, or Geraldines, related to the Earls of Desmond (extinct), who were questionably granted extensive lands in Co Limerick by the Duke of Normandy by way of conquest. The title was named after the village of Glin, near the Knight’s lands. The Knight of Glin was properly addressed as “Knight”.
John Fitz-Thomas FitzGerald, by virtue of his royal seigniory as a Count Palatine, created three of his sons by the second marriage, knights; and their descendants have been so styled in acts of parliament, patents under the great seal, and all legal proceedings, up to the present (1910) time. He founded the monastery of Tralee, and was buried there in 1260.
(VII) Sir John Fitz-John, Knight, was the first Knight of Glin, and had from his father the castles of Glincarbery and Beagh, Co Limerick. Children: John Fitz-John, Gerald Fitz-John, ancestor of the family of Clannish and Castle Ishen, Co Cork, Baronets.
VIII) Sir John Fitz-John del Glin was succeeded by his son.
In 1569, when the [15th] knight, Thomas FitzGerald, was barbarously executed in Limerick. His mother, who was present at the execution, seized his head when he was beheaded and drank his blood. She then collected the parts of his dismembered body and put them in a linen sheet. When she set out for home with her precious burden she was followed by an immense concourse, including one hundred keening women.
Somewhere east of Foynes some soldiers tried to seize the corpse and in the fight that followed many people were slain. The body was interred in Lislaughtin Abbey in the tomb of his relative, the O’Connor Kerry.
According to another legend, in the early 16th century under Elizabeth I, England set about enforcing loyalty in the western parts of Ireland. When one of her ships came up to the Knight of Glin’s castle on the Shannon Estuary, a fierce battle ensued. The ship’s captain managed to capture one of the Knight’s sons and sent the Knight a message that he should surrender or else the son would be put in one of the ship’s cannons and fired against the castle wall. He replied that as he was virile and his wife was strong, it would be easy to produce another son.
The history of Glin is a tale of two castles – one very old, the other more a manor house than a fortress. The ancient castle of Glin still stands – or, at least the shattered remnants of it’s tower remain. Built in the medieval ages, it was badly damaged during assaults in the 1600’s. The old castle ruins consist of a massive square tower on a rock, in the bed of a small river, close to its junction with the Shannon. Near it is an ancient bridge, where the only pass over the river was situated, which the castle was most probably built to protect.
The present day Glin Castle was built between 1780 and 1790. However, the first Glin castle was built around 1200.
The heirs to Glin Castle for all those generations were known as the Knights of Glin. The last Knight of Glin, Desmond Fitzgerald, passed away in 2011. He was the 29th Knight of Glin, a traditional title which had been passed down to the eldest Fitzgerald son for centuries. As the 29th Knight had no son’s, the title has now become extinct. Since he had no male heir, the title Knight of Glin became apparently dormant or extinct. There has been some speculation that there is an heir male of the body needing to prove their claim to the title, surviving through the 24th Knight of Glin.