Fitzgeralds of Turlough
This painting once hung at Turlough Park, the estate of the Fitzgeralds.
The Fitzgeralds had come to Ireland with the Norman, Strongbow, and were expelled to Connaught by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century. George Senior had been a Captain in the Austrian army of Empress Maria Theresa and married Lady Mary Hervey, daughter of the important Suffolk family. Lady Mary Hervey’s brother was the noted traveller and collector, the 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. George and Lady Mary's marriage had broken down in 1754, explaining her absence from the picture.
George Robert, the eldest son, later known as ‘Fighting Fitzgerald’ was famous for his brave and reckless horsemanship. A renowned duellist, he was involved in a number of disputes and family quarrels. He was found guilty and hanged for murder in Castlebar, Co. Mayo in 1786.
His younger brother Charles Lionel inherited the estate. He married Dorothea, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Butler, 6th Baronet. This painting descended through their family until purchased privately in 1900. In 2007 the portrait was presented as a heritage gift to the National Gallery of Ireland.
The Fitzgeralds owned lands in Mayo from the 1650s. They built their homes at Turlough Park from the early 18th century.