Fitzgerald, John (1825–1910), poet, painter, antiquary, and wood-carver, was born 18 June 1825 at Hanover Street, Cork, son of John Fitzgerald and Martha Mary Deacy. He was educated at Fr Mathew's (qv) school, Blackamoor Lane, and North Monastery CBS. He was apprenticed at the age of 15 to his brother-in-law, Michael Murphy, a cabinetmaker in London. Returning to Cork in 1841, he secured appointment as a chemist's assistant to John Blyth (afterwards professor of chemistry at QCC). He resumed work as a cabinetmaker with Cornelius O'Keeffe, Grattan Street in 1842. After six years he took up woodcarving and was for a time master at the Cork school of art and superintendent in the woodcarving department at the 1853 Dublin exhibition. At the 1883 Cork exhibition he won first prize for two woodcarvings of shields.
Fitzgerald had a reputation as a poet and was known as the ‘bard of the Lee’. He was a school-fellow of two other Cork poets, Thomas Condon, author of Gilla Hugh, and Daniel Casey (d. 1881), author of Cork lyrics; many of his and their poems were published in Gems of Cork poets (1883). A collection of his writings, Legends, ballads and songs of the Lee, was published in Cork (1882). A devoted antiquary, he contributed tales of old Cork and several topographical papers to the local press. He was familiar with every lane and landmark, castle, old wall and ancient inscription in Cork and neighbouring areas. One of the best examples of his style is contained in The Blarney stone, in which he professes to give a correct account of the origins of Blarney castle. He wrote stories, prose and poems about every noteworthy event in Cork's history, and revived many local legends and traditions of Cork; his poems range in tone from deep sadness to joyous gaiety.
Many of his paintings reflect his antiquarian interests. Cork City Museum has three of his ‘pen and wash sketches’, The south gate bridge, Cork, 1797, from Elizabeth Fort and Attacking Shandon castle 1603. Two other watercolours are in the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork: Elizabeth Fort and Old St Finbarr's, Cork, 1796. He published a booklet in 1898, the centenary of the 1798 rebellion, Echoes of ninety-eight. A council member of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Fitzgerald contributed many articles on antiquarian lore to its journal. He was also employed for a number of years as a reader in the Cork Examiner office. A collection of ten partly autobiographical articles, written in his own hand, was sold for £100 at Sotheby's, London, in 1981.
Fitzgerald died at the North Infirmary, Cork, 14 May 1910, and is interred at Mathew (now St. Joseph's) graveyard, Cork.