Set in a period of invasion, military conflict, social and political chaos perpetrated by the Tudor conquest of Ireland, the story of Eleanor, Countess of Desmond recounts the heroic efforts of a woman to protect her family against insurmountable odds.
Aristocratic, educated, intelligent and able, Lady Eleanor Butler’s destiny was as a wife and mother. But marriage to Garret FitzGerald, the powerful Earl of Desmond, hurls her headlong into a maelstrom of invasion, rebellion, intrigue, appalling cruelty, double-dealing, confiscation plantation, famine, social and political meltdown, as she and her husband become embroiled in a struggle to the death against the formidable, Machiavellian government of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Enduring imprisonment, exile, poverty, hunger and deprivation, her only son held hostage in the Tower of London, her mission to save the House of Desmond, her husband, her children and herself from annihilation becomes Eleanor’s obsession and for which she will sacrifice anything, including herself. When all seems lost, like some latter-day phoenix, she rises, time after time, to bravely confront each new challenge.
The life of Eleanor, Countess of Desmond is the story of the triumph of the human spirit against the most horrific adversity.
In this vigorous and deeply moving biography that has all the constituents of a Shakespearean tragedy, sourced from primary contemporaneous manuscripts, including the Countess of Desmond’s own letters, Anne Chambers, author of the bestselling Granuaile, vividly brings the life of this neglected heroine to light against the backdrop of one of the most convoluted and traumatic periods in Irish history.