The death of Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin, has robbed Ireland of one of its most eminent academics in the fields of art, architecture, conservation and the decorative arts,” Donough Cahill, Executive Director of the Irish Georgian Society, said this week.
“He was a scholar of international importance,” he said and the society and Ireland had lost one of its titans and greatest champions of the arts and heritage.
“We, in the Irish Georgian Society, will sorely miss him and will find it hard to come to terms with his absence as he has been involved with the Society since its early days and has been President for the last twenty years,” Mr Cahill continued. “Over this time, including over the last two years of ill health, he has worked indefatigably for the Society at home and abroad, particularly in the US.
He described the Knight as a passionate man who worked tireless for the future of Irish country houses, their contents, parks and gardens - showing the way with the restoration of Glin Castle, and making it home to his collection of Irish paintings, furniture and the decorative arts.
“His unique contribution to Irish scholarship, indicated by the depth and breadth of his academic output (books, catalogues, articles), is awe-inspiring. What the Knight was equally well-know for was his generosity with his knowledge being willing to share with everyone from struggling student to academic colleague.”
Desmond was a man of immense charm as well as erudition, a convivial and amusing companion, he said. “He was never shy of expressing his opinion and even in the midst of the odd tirade the glimmer of mischief was there as his humour and love of words removed any possible sting!”
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan was deeply saddened by news of his friend’s death. “I knew the Knight personally and I can remember so well having wonderful, informed conversations with him in his home. He was always generous with his advice and kind in his remarks.”
And he paid tribute to his work in the field of the arts and heritage.
The University of Limerick also noted with sadness the Knight’s death. “I know I speak for the UL community in expressing our sadness at the Knight’s passing and I want to convey our condolences to his wife Olda and family,” UL President, Professor Don Barry said.
“Our links go back many years and we are proud to be the custodians of the Glin Papers which are a unique archive of one of Ireland’s great families that have been and will continue to be the source of great scholarship and learning”.
The Knight the Glin Papers to the university in 2001 and they are stored in the Special Collections Department of the Glucksman Library in 2001.