We have all heard in the history of Ireland (the other island) about the absentee landlord, or the landlord who didn’t care about their tenants other than getting money from them by whatever means necessary. Valentia Island again being unique and different in every regard had a landlord who not only lived on the island at Glanleam but cared about his tenants and the island as a whole. The various Knights of Kerry, developed industries on the island creating the place which those of us who are lucky enough to live here call home below is a brief history on the Knights of Kerry and their association with Valentia.

The Knight of Kerry, also called the Green Knight, is one of three Anglo-Irish hereditary knighthoods, all of which existed in Ireland since feudal times. The other two were the White Knight (Fitzgibbon/FitzGerald) extinct and the Knight of Glin (Black Knight (FitzGerald)) extinct or dormant since September 2011. All three belong to the FitzGerald dynasty, being created by the Earls of Desmond for their kinsmen.

The Fitzgerald family began to reside on the Valentia estate in 1780 when Robert, 17th Knight of Kerry, rented it from Lord Orkney.  However, the estate came into the possession of the Fitzgerald’s only in 1807 when it was finally bought out by Maurice, 18th Knight of Kerry.
However it was the 19th Knight of Kerry, Sir Peter Fitzgerald who in the 1800’s was instrumental in introducing and developing the following on the island:

  • Growing & weaving of Flax for export
  • Railway terminal in Renard Point
  • Seaport in the Valentia Harbour
  • European end of the new Transatlantic Cable
  • Opening & development of the Slate Quarry
  • Commissioned the layout & building of Knightstown
  • Developed Glanleam Estate – house, gardens & farm
  • Numerous Royal visits to the island
  • Encouraged tree-planting on the island

Knights of Kerry directly associated with Valentia Island

Name Title Years
Robert Fitzgerald 17th Knight of Kerry 1717-1781
Maurice Fitzgerald 18th Knight of Kerry 1772-1849
Sir Peter Fitzgerald 19th Knight of Kerry; 1st Baronet of Valencia 1808-1880
Sir Maurice Fitzgerald 20th Knight of Kerry; 2nd Baronet of Valencia 1844-1916
Sir John Fitzgerald 21st Knight of Kerry; 3rd Baronet of Valencia 1884-1957
Sir Arthur Fitzgerald 22nd Knight of Kerry; 4th Baronet of Valencia 1885-1967
Sir George Fitzgerald 23rd Knight of Kerry; 5th Baronet of Valencia 1917-2001
Sir Adrian Fitzgerald 24th Knight of Kerry; 6th Baronet of Valencia 1940-present