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Waterford Castle & The Fitzgeralds

Learn how Waterford Castle and The Island developed during the Fitzgerald's 800 year reign
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Historic Features at Waterford Castle

Experience The Island's history through the features that decorate the Castle such as The Fitzgerald Coat of Arms and antique furniture and tapestries
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Historic Features at Waterford Castle.


The Fitzgerald Coat of Arms

Found above the fireplace in the Great Hall, the Fitzgerald Coat of Arms Crest reveals the story of the Norman family who became almost more Irish than the Irish themselves. The quarterly shield forms the centrepiece of the Crest. Crossed lines combine to form the St. Julian Cross. On the top left quarter and right bottom quarter of the shield are quarter crescent moons with a star in the centre. The top right and bottom left quarters of the shield is decorated with several boar heads which are a symbol of hospitality. The two angels holding the shield are protectors and guardians of the family and their helmets symbolise nobility. To the top right of the Crest, a hand holds a sword piercing a boar's head symbolising the family's graciousness and generosity in victory. The inscription at the top of the Arms 'Crom A Boo' is the family's war cry, translating as 'Dissolve Forever'. This motto refers to the family's old Norman allegiance to England and is a public declaration of their loyalty to their English heritage.

The monkey, which is an unusual symbol of Irish heraldry, is shown carrying a crescent moon and star. The crescent moon symbolises the second son and the star represents the third son. A family story revealed to successive generations explains the unique inclusion of the monkey on the Arms: Many centuries ago, the heir of the family died. His second son (symbolised by the crescent moon) acquired the title. His first two sons die, leaving the infant third son (symbolised by the star) as the only surviving heir. While the infant child was asleep upstairs, fire ravaged the home. Sensing danger the family's pet monkey made his way along the parapet and brought the infant to safety.

The Fitzgerald's preserved and paid homage to this unique story by planting a Monkey Puzzle Tree which has survived to this day and can be found standing majestically in the front of the Castle.

Antiquities

The castle's antiquities are an ornate and exquisitely beautiful representation of The Island's history. The Great Hall is decorated with Elizabethan Oak panelling, Portland Stone Walls, graceful arches and striking 16th century plastered ceiling. Also hanging in the Great Hall are the Aubusson Louis Seize style wool tapestries which originally adorned the Castle. One depicting an 18th century hunting party, the other depicting a christening party assembled outside a castle in 16th century costume. They were both lost at one time however relocated and returned to the Castle by Mr Kearns in 1988.

A Victorian Rococo carved giltwood over-mantle mirror hangs above the fireplace in the Fitzgerald Room. The Bar is a Victorian Louis Quinze in carved walnut, decorated with figural and animal panels, flower leaf scrolls, moulding and beading; A pair of distinguished 19th century English School oil paintings of racehorses with jockets at full pace also decorate the lounge along with portraits and photographs of the Fitzgerald family.

The Munster Room is exquisitely decorated with ceiling-high oak panelling, a carved oak mantelpiece and fine plastered ceiling. It also contains striking paintings, one of which is the portrait of 'An Architect' with his assistant at a table painted by J. Barry.

Beautiful antique furniture can be seen throughout the Castle; a carved oak settee and chairs decorated with eagles and swan heads; a pair of Victorian Jacobean style oak cabinets with upper cupboards enclosed by colour leaded glass and a pair of George III style carved mahogany cabinets. The cabinets are decorated with carved floral festoons and rosettes, which embellish the doors and yellow vein, inlaid marble tops with gothic markings; a George III style long case clock gently marks the passing of time. This handcrafted antique was made in Waterford and has a field panel door and brass dial.