Decline and Fall

Lady Louisa Georgina Fitzgibbon, a sister of the Viscount and daughter of the third Lord Clare, came into possession of Mountshannon on the death of her father. She was a very extravagant and over-charitable woman who gave lavish banquets and balls at the mansion to which all the aristocracy and landed gentry from Limerick and neighbouring counties were invited...

But the world of reality eventually took control as Lady Louisa frittered away the Fitzgibbon fortune and ran up huge debts in an effort to keep up the grand lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. She became angaged to a Sicilian nobleman, The Marquis Della Rochella, thinking his wealth would rescue her from financial ruin, only to discover that her betroth was himself almost penniless and was marrying her for the same reason.

During a sumptuous party in the mansion to announce their engagement the sheriff arrived to seize some of the mansion's valuable effects. Two large paintings hanging in the main hall were among the items earmarked for confiscation, but were found to have holes burned through the canvas when the sheriff's men were removing them. The restored and still very valuable pictures were in later years hung in the hall of Dublin Castle. It was on this occasion that the Marquis discovered that Lady Louisa, like himself, was bankrupt but, noble gentleman that he was, he went ahead with the marriage - even if it was a misguided union.

The Marquis, unaccustomed to the Irish climate, fell into bad health and died a few years later, still pining for his native sunny Sicily. Still struggling to keep face, Lady Louisa was forced to sell much of the contents of the mansion including the priceless collection of books from the family library. Soon the lavish entertainment, the sumptuous feasting and the glittering balls were all gone and the magic that once was Mountshannon disappeared. Gone too were Lady Louisa's wealthy friends, leaving her at the mercy of her creditors who quickly foreclosed on her and she was forced to sell the mansion and the estate.

Lady Louisa left Mountshannon in 1887 and went to live in the Isle of Wight at St. Dominic's Convent where she spent the rest of her life. When she died some years later she was buried in the convent grounds. The remains of a public water fountain, erected by Lady Louisa, can be seen at Carrowkeel near Annacotty, and a chalice presented by her to the parish in 1863 was in the possession of the Presentation Sisters in Castleconnell. The powerful Fitzgibbon line that had stretched across one hundred and twenty years at Mountshannon had finally ended.

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