It may be an apocryphal story but if true I wonder what thoughts went through Gerald FitzGeralds mind as he thrust out his arm, through the gap in the doorway, into a building containing armed enemies. Would the trust be rewarded with a shake of his hand and peace or would it be met with the blade of a sharp sword hacking down?
In 1479 Gerald FitzGerald had been re-appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland, much to the annoyance of the Earl of Ormond Piers Butler who wanted the position himself. By 1492 this grievance had descended into war between the two families.
Malton’s “West Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral”Legend has it that Bulters nephew ‘Black’ James’ forces were routed in a fight led by FitzGerald and he had sought sanctuary in St. Patricks. Trying to finish the fighting Gerald FitzGerald pleaded with James to agree to peace but James rebuffed the attempts so FitzGerald had his men cut a hole in the door of the Cathedral. Informing James that he wanted peace between the families FitzGerald thrust in his arm through the hole. His courage was rewarded when Butler shook his hand, peace was restored and a contender for the origin of the phrase ‘Chancing your arm’ was born.