For hundreds of years, England held sway over Ireland. Their hegemony ranged from tyranny and brutal murder to loose control, but always, generation after generation, there was the yoke of English rule. Lands were taken from peasants and given to rich English nobles. Religious war and cruelty were common. Favoritism, power hunger, greed, fraud, and nepotism dominated the governance of the island. But always and throughout, there was strong resistance to English rule and defiant rebellion led by courageous Rascals.
Thomas FitzGerald, the eighth earl of Kildare, whom the Irish called Gerrold Mor, was an Englishman through and through. He'd married a cousin of the King of England, and with his induction into the Order of the Garter, he'd been awarded one of the king's highest honors. But consistent with a long line of English nobleman in Ireland, he would also be accused of being more Irish than English, becoming instrumental in Ireland's resistance to English domination.
Mor served as the English governor of Ireland for more than thirty years, but he did so by twice openly defying English kings. In 1478, when emissaries from King Edward IV were sent to Ireland to replace him, Mor simply refused. Then in 1488 Mor did it again. By 1494 the English monarchy had had enough, and king Henry VII sent an army to Ireland to capture power from Mor and arrest him. After a period, Mor was released, but only under the condition that he leave his son behind in England as a pledge of loyalty and insurance of obedience.
Mor's willful stands against England made him very popular in Ireland. But he was also fiercely opposed by other factions on the island. A tireless politician, Mor built strong alliances with Gaelic chieftains, and used military might to defeat his enemies. As one English king said of him, "He is meet to rule all Ireland, seeing as all Ireland cannot rule him." In fact, it was his near total sway over the island that fostered the jealousy of the English kings.
As a ruler, Mor did much for the cause of unifying the many factions of Ireland. He also helped usher in the Renaissance in Ireland by aiding in the establishment of libraries and schools, and he encouraged Gaelic art and literature.
As a Rascal on an island of Rascals, Mor was impressive with his accomplishments of unification and resistance to English dominance. As Malachy McCourt wrote, "Gerrold Mor had ruled Kildare and the English pale for nearly forty years, and for the most part had remained a popular ruler during the entirety. He had kept a large range of English kings from meddling too drastically in the affairs of Ireland and had stretched his influence over much of the island. Gerrold Mor was surely his own man, and he began a family dynasty that would result in proud Anglo-Irish defiance."