The FitzGeralds settled here in the 1300s at nearby Shannid Castle following the Norman invasion of Ireland. The present castle was built in the 1780’s by John Bateman FitzGerald, the 25th Knight of Glin when he married an heiress from Forde Abbey in Dorset. Quite soon they were bankrupt from high living and it was down to his son John Fraunceis to revive the family fortunes and carry on with the work in the 1820’s.tory
He was imaginative and ambitious and castellated the large plain Georgian house with battlements and laid out the garden and demesne, bringing it to life with gatehouses and follies in the Regency Gothick style – decorated with white washed pastry cook battlements turrets and arrow slits.
All the Knights had nicknames and John Fraunceis was known as ‘the Knight of the Women’ as he was said to keep his many local mistresses in these Gothic lodges much to the disapproval of the parish priest. In the woods he built a charming fern encrusted stone hermitage with a beautifully built little brick vault, cobbled floor and pointed Gothic windows which had become entirely lost in brambles when my parents discovered it and dug it out of the hillside.
The story continues in the 1890’s with the marriage of Lady Rachel Wyndham Quin of nearby Adare Manor to The Big Knight, Desmond FitzJohn Lloyd Fitzgerald, the 27th Knight of Glin. Her father, the traveller and plantsman Lord Dunraven, was bringing back new and exciting species from his trips. She planted the giant Chilean Drymis winteri with its towering canopies of glaucous evergreen leaves which froth with waxy cream coloured flowers each spring, and their companions the tall Crinodendrons all decorated with scarlet Chinese lanterns in early summer. From American came the seeds of the now giant stand of thuyas and the Monterey pine which shelters the house to the East.
Desmond FitzJohn Lloyd Fitzgerald was educated at Cheltenham College, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. He gained the rank of Captain in the South Irish Horse. He held the offices of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) for County Limerick, the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for County Limerick, and the office of High Sheriff of County Limerick in 1904.
The 28th Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald and his wife Veronica came to Glin in the 1930s. At that time, the castle was declining, largely because his father was infirm. Desmond also had poor health and, after his death, Victoria married the Canadian magnate Ray Milner, and together they began to make improvements to the estate.
Desmond’s son, Desmond John Villiers Fitzgerald the 29th and ultimate Knight of Glin, was an author, connoisseur, and art historian of international distinction. He restored the castle and wing, and decorated them with his magnificent collection of Irish furniture and paintings. From 1993 - 2008, the Knight and his wife, Olda, opened the castle to guests and entertained people from around the world including Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful. On September 15, 2011, Desmond FitzGerald, the 29th Knight of Glin died. He was the last Black Knight; as he had no sons and the title cannot be passed to a daughter, the title became dormant with his death.
In autumn of 2017, Glin Castle reopened for private lettings and small weddings.