Surveyor of the Literary Landscape
Dendrobium Speciosum . R D FitzGerald
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R D Fitzgerald was the third in a line of Robert David FitzGeralds, all of who were surveyors by profession. His grandfather founded the line in Australia when he came from Tralee in Ireland. He became the Deputy Surveyor-General of New South Wales and in his spare time he established himself as the leading authority on Australian orchids.
The second R D FitzGerald was also a surveyor and he rose to the position of Deputy Chief Engineer in the NSW Public Works Department. He never travelled to Ireland but his son (the poet) recalled that his ordinary speech often gave way to a distinct brogue, sometimes for effect when telling Irish tales, sometimes at moments of excitement. He recalled phrases such as "It's a fine soft day" when there was a grey drizzle, or "It's better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick!" to express delight. The young FitzGerald wondered about the veracity of the brogue and the turns of speech for he did not meet other born and bred Irish folk who talked quite the same. However he was agreeable surprised when he made the pilgrimage to Tralee and was warned by the hotel manager "The day's a bit soft" as he was about to venture out.