Sunday, October 09, 2011

Wanted: A Few More Good Men and Women to Chance an Arm

While going through my Dublin photos this morning to make our much procrastinated movie - not as procrastinated as Patty's posts - of our Ireland/Iceland trip, I came across a story apropos to this week's announcement of three women who share the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin hangs a door with a hole,

and this is the story.

In 1492, two great Irish families, the Butlers of Ormond and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, were engaged in a bitter and bloody feud. Seeking sanctuary, Black James, nephew of the Earl of Ormond, and his men fled into the Chapter House. The Fitzgeralds followed in hot pursuit.

Their leader Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, realized that the fighting was out of control. Through the closed door he pleaded with Black James to accept a truce. Suspecting treachery, Black James refused to let Fitzgerald inside. Fitzgerald hacked a hole in the door and thrust his arm through as a pledge of his good faith.

This daring gesture was enough. The door opened and the two warring factions received one another in peace. Some believe that this event is the origin of the expression "to chance your arm", meaning to take the initiative. The door has become known as the "Door of Reconciliation".


Pat said...

I don't remember seeing that door. Did I see that door?

Katharine said...

How could you not see it? It was hanging in the middle of a transept. Hm-m. Better check my architecture terms.