Desmond, Gerald (d. 1583)

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Desmond, Gerald (d. 1583)

Sixteenth earl of Desmond, in Ireland, who was killed in 1583. He had some reputation as a magician and was known as "the Great Earl." Many curious stories have been told about him.

He lived in a castle on a small island in Lough Gur, and there he took his young bride, to whom he was so passionately attached that he could deny her nothing. Seeking him one day in the chamber where he worked his magic spells, she demanded to know the secret of the black cat. In vain he told her of the terrible things she must witness. She would not be dissuaded, so he warned her solemnly that if she uttered a word the castle would sink to the bottom of Lough Gur. Then he set to work with his magic spells.

Terrible indeed were the sights she beheld, but she stood firm and uttered neither word nor cry, until her husband lay down on the floor and stretched till he reached almost from end to end of the room. Then she uttered a wild shriek, and the castle sank instantly to the bottom of Lough Gur, where it still remains.

The legend says that once in every seven years Desmond, mounted on a white horse, rises from the water and rides around the Lough. His horse is shod with silver shoes, and when they wear out the spell will be broken. Desmond will return, and his vast estates will be restored to him.