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
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
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.