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Fitz-Patrick History


From Mac Giolla Padraig to Fitz-Patrick

May I offer up a portion of "The Fitz-Patricks, Lords of Ossory, A History" that I am currently compiling for my family and will be featuring from time to time here on our website, www.fitz-patrick.net. This is in rough draft in an abridged form and does not include footnotes or credits.

Much has been said about how the name Fitz-Patrick, and its derivatives, came about. One thing seems certain, it seemed to have occurred during the 16th century during the reign of King Henry VIII of England. In respect to the chronology of Reverend J. F. Shearman and his writings of the Early Kings Of Ossory; it appears that the Anglicizing of the name Mac Giolla Pardraig followed a number of changes starting with Mac Gilla Patraic to Mac Gillapatraic to Gillapatric and even Gilpatrick before it became Fitz-Patrick then FitzPatrick and eventually Fitzpatrick as is most common today.

Up through the 15th century, the majority of Ireland was under the rule of three main Anglo-Norman families. They were the FitzGeralds (Earls Of Desmond-created in 1329) in Munster, their "cousins" the FitzGeralds (Earls Of Kildare-created in 1316) in Leinster, and The Butlers (Earls of Ormond-created in 1328) in Kilkenny and Tipperary. It was also during these times that the Butlers played a major role in what would eventually become the submission of our branch of the Giolla Padraig to English rule.

The Butlers, originally FitzWalter, came to Ireland from England with Prince John, brother of King Henry II of England, in 1185. With the full blessings of the English King and Parliament they, and the other two major Norman families sent to "civilize" the Irish frontier, were given large tracks of Irish homeland for their keeping in the name of Great Britannia. In 1328 the Butlers were created Earls of Ormond and in 1391 they moved their family headquarters from Gowran to Kilkenny. It is impossible to relate the history of the Fitz-Patricks without giving homage to the Butlers who, to a large degree, were to remain overlords of much of ancient Celtic Giolla Padraig territory for seven centuries.

As was often the case, and it seems the Giolla Padraig were no exception, to maintain the peace with a powerful neighbor; an inter-family marriage was in order. And so it was between the great chieftain of Ossorian Tribes and their more "civilized" neighbors, the Butlers. If there is a benefit in all of this, in genealogical terms, it is that we Fitz-Patricks are not only related to the great Celtic Kings of Ireland, but can also trace our ancestry back through our Butler heritage to King Henry II, Saint Thomas a Becket and Edward I of England and beyond.

Still, bad blood remained between the native Celts and their conquerors. Those of us claiming to be direct descendants of the House Of Ossory sometimes cringe at the thought of how our dear elder, Brian Oge, the great Celtic Chieftain, would sell out the rest of his family in order to align himself with the English overlords, the Butlers, and eventually to King Henry VIII. But then again, perhaps we all would have done the same thing under the circumstances. It is well known that those Irish Kings and Princes that remained rebellious and would not submit to the Anglo-Norman families ruling on behalf of the always-formidable English found themselves on the run and without home or hereditary claims.

In 1443, Mac Gilla Patraic was King of Ossory and it is said that he and his two sons were "well worthy of the kingdom of Ossory, and was sole lord through his virtuous qualities and conditions, both in princely person, wealth and liberality, and marital feats". This being said, his two sons were murdered under Mac Richard Butler's direction. Fineen Roe McGillapatrick in revenge for his own father's death followed that event, in 1478, by the slaying of Edmund Butler's son Richard at St. Canice by the hands of the Butlers.

Although the Gilla Patraic continued to inter-marry with the Butlers, bad relations continued to begat bad tidings between not only the Giolla Padraig and the Butlers; but also between the Butlers and fellow English servants to King Henry, the Earls of Kildare. Adding to the mix, the followers of the Earls of Kildare were constantly on the prowl for a chance to raid the Butlers who found themselves wedged in amongst both the Earls of Kildare and the Earls of Desmond. With all this brewing, Brian Oge, wanting to save what he could of his lands and wanting to become an English Baron, with the aide of Sir Piers Butler, sent an ambassador to King Henry VIII stating his intentions.

Not all Gillapatraics were so anxious to bow to an English overlord and in 1532 Dermot (Diarmaid), who was then tanist of Ossory, slew Thomas Butler who was the son of Piers Butler. Apparently, although Dermot was accused of acting alone, much evidence shows that he may have been accompanied by kinfolk aligned with the Earls of Kildare. The reason for this may be suggested from findings in "The History of St. Canice Church" where it was noted that the Butlers may have been on a raid to plunder parts of upper Ossory and were encountered by one of the Earls of Kildare and his followers. Dermot, apparently, being amongst them.

Brian Oge, finding his brother an embarrassment and a hindrance to his ambitions of becoming and English Baron, gave up his brother to the Butlers and the Butlers acted out their cruel revenge on him. That being done, Brian, in 1537, submitted to the English king and gave up all his ancient rights. Unfortunately for the rest of us, he gave up all the rights of his kinsmen as well…"who of course were not consulted as to this act of treachery towards them." So it goes, in 1541, Brian Oge, our Barnaby Mac Giolla Padraig: gave up our great and ancient Celtic rights, became Brian (Barnaby) Fitz-Patrick the First Baron of Upper Ossory at Castletown, and married Margaret Butler, daughter of Peter Butler, Earl Of Ormond Lord Deputy to Ireland. It should be noted that this same Peter Butler was, at the time, the hated enemy and oppressor to Barnaby's father. In this year, with Brian's submission, "it was that the old Celtic chieftaincy merged into the landlord, and the clansman became mere rent-payers or tenants on their ancestral territories forever."

Brian's ambitions eventually bumped up against his own son Taidg and he sent him off to the English in Dublin under trumped up charges to be hanged. After Brian died, his son Barnaby became the second Baron. Barnaby married, had a daughter, and eventually became the bedfellow of Edward VI. He died without issue or male heir. Florence (Finghin), the Third Baron, carried on the royal line that flowed down to our ancestor John. John ceremoniously retained the Irish name of the family, Mac Gilla Patraic. He became the Lord of Castletown in Upper Ossory. John had two sons; John Fitz-Patrick of Bordwell who was considered the last in M'Firbs' genealogy, and another son, our direct line, James Fitz-Patrick of Grantstown.

Our thanks to John Fitz-Patrick Smith for sending us in the above information.




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