de Burgh

de Burgh of Co. Kildare

The de Burghs claim descent from Charlemagne through Jean, Comte de Konign and Baron de Tonsburgh in the late 10th century. Amongst their more prestigious forbears were Baldwin de Burgh, King of Jerusalem (1118 – 1131) and Ode, Bishop of Bayeux, for whom the Bayeux Tapestry was made. The first of the family to settle in Ireland was William de Burgh, a steward of Henry II, who personally received the submission of the Kings of Connaught and Meath at Athlone in 1172. In return he was made Governor of Wexford and “Dominus” or Lord of Connaught by Prince John, Lord of Ireland. Tradition states the de Burgh arms were granted when one of the family killed a leading Saracen while fighting alongside Richard the Lionheart. The crusading monarch is said to have dipped his sword in the dead man’s blood and made the shape of a cross over his fallen shield, saying “these, Knight, be thine arms forever”. As William was married to Richard’s daughter Isabel, widow of Prince Llewelyn of Wales, it seems plausible that he was the man to whom the arms were first granted.

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