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Kilfera

Forstall or Forrestal History

The Lineage of Kilfera 1541-1911

Lords of Kilfera Castle

Please note: as of January 2024, this page has been updated to include new information regarding the Kilfera Forstall lineage. The new information, part of which is detailed below, will be included in a book, currently in progress by the present author. Draft portions of this book are included under the ‘historical context’ sections on this website.

The Kilfera branch of the Forrestal or Forstall family are one of the most intriguing branches. Their history, akin to the other branches of the Forrestal family, is inextricably tied to rebellion. They appear to have suffered one of the biggest blows of any of the branches which is even more so, when we consider the fact that this line was where the Chieftainship of the family was held, until the mid 17th century when their power was broken, and they, along with information about their descendancy, vanish from the historical record.

The entrance of Kilfera Castle, viewed from the inside, where the Forrestals, Lords of Kilfera, resided.

The Kilfera Forstall lineage and descent has been traced in The Forrestals of Ireland (2020), and previously, the last known information of this family, was of Robert Forstall living in 1664. This Robert Forstall was the son of Patrick Forstall and grandson of Robert Forstall whose will was proved in 1645.

The following evidence compiled by the present author indicates that the Kilfera Forstall lineage survived into the twentieth century, and were the Forstall lineage who were leasing lands at Ballyreddin and Bennettsbridge, Co. Kilkenny (about 2.5 miles south of Kilfera), from the Shee lineage of Ballyreddin and Bennettsbridge, Co. Kilkenny. This is the first suggestion, to the author’s knowledge, that the Kilfera lineage did indeed survive beyond the seventeenth century in Ireland:

Following the turmoil of the Eleven Years’ War and the Williamite War that followed, the Forstall lineage of Kilfera appears to have survived, and by the mid-eighteenth century, were farming lands they leased from the Shees of Ballyreddin and Bennettsbridge. This Shee family descended lineally from the Shee lineage of Sheestown, Co. Kilkenny. The lands of Sheestown, which border the lands of Kilfera to the south, were given by Rev. William Carrigan, to have originally been a part of Kilfera; the two townlands comprising one large townland formerly known as Kilferagh. Robert Forstall, who died in 1541 and is named as ‘Lord of Kilferagh and of Ballifronk,’ and ‘chief of his nation,’ on his gravestone monument, is buried in Sheestown church along with members of the Shee family, his son Patrick Forstall, and grandson James Forstall who married Alice Shortall. In 1623, Sir Richard Shee held lands at Washhayes or Sheestown, through Robert Forstall of Kilfera (d. 1645), these lands being part of the manor of Kilfera, of which Robert Forstall held ‘in fee.’

Down Survey map depicting the lands and castle of Kilfera, in addition to Sheestown or ‘Soshesayes,’ which is located just south of Kilfera.

In a lease dated March 2nd, 1796, John Shee of the City of Kilkenny (formerly of Ballyreddin), leased 71 Irish acres of Ballyreddin, Co. Kilkenny, and Bishopslough, Co. Kilkenny, to Robert Forstall of Ballyreddin and William Murphy. Previously, in April of 1762, Dr. Henry Candler of Sion House, Co. Kilkenny (son of Dr. William Candler of Callan), leased lands contained within the castle quarter of Kilbline Castle, along with lands at Corbettstown, Co. Kilkenny, to William Forstall of Ballyreddin and John Forstall of Kilbline. Notably, Dr. Henry Candler was married to Susanna Matthews (this being Susanna’s third marriage) who was the widow of Edmond Waring of Warington, Co. Kilkenny. Edmond Waring’s mother Mary Forstall, was the daughter of Edmond Dubh Forstall of Gurteens Castle and Kellymount, Co. Kilkenny. Hugh Waring, Esq, of Warington, Co. Kilkenny, Edmond’s father, and husband of Mary Forstall, was the brother of William Waring, Esq of Pottlerath, whose daughter, Elizabeth Waring, was wed to William Izod, the grandson of Richard Izod of Kilfera who was conferred with the former Forstall residence of Kilfera Castle and lands after the property was forfeit by Robert Forstall of Kilfera (viv 1664).

Susanna Matthews, married secondly, Nicholas Aylward of Shankill (this also being Nicholas’s second marriage, his first being to Mary Kearney of Bramblestown, Co. Kilkenny), whose father Nicholas Aylward of Aylwardstown and Shankill, was first cousin to the aforementioned Edmond Dubh Forstall (grandfather and namesake of Edmond Waring).  After the demise of the Kilfera Forstalls, Edmond Dubh’s lineage became the most powerful Forstall lineage in Ireland. It is of note, that the Kilfera Forstall lineage and the Mullennahone Forstall lineage (the ancestral lineage of Edmond Dubh Forstall, whose grandfather Edmond Forstall held Mullennahone Castle) both shared kinship with the FitzGerald’s of Burnchurch.

As shown in The Lineage of Mullennahone 1571-1855, the Forstall lineage of Kilfera, and the Forstall lineages residing in the barony of Ida, Co. Kilkenny, where Mullennahone, Carrickcloney, and Forrestalstown, Co. Kilkenny, are located, likely shared a common ancestor in Richard Forstall who was a commissioner appointed in 1359 to collect armed horse and footman from the barony of Shillelogher where Kilfera is located.

Notably, the lands of Kilbline and Kilbline Castle, where John Forstall of Kilbline and William Forstall of Ballyredddin held a lease, were, in the seventeenth century, possessed by Peter Shortall, who was a first cousin to Robert Forstall of Kilfera (d. 1645). Peter Shortall, also held lands at Highrath, which are situated directly across the River Nore from the lands of Warington, Co. Kilkenny (the residence of Hugh Waring, whose son Edmond was the first husband of Susanna Matthews), which in-turn border the lands of Kilfera.

Kilbline Castle and lands where William Forstall of Ballyreddin and John Forstall of Kilbline held a lease. This property was formerly possessed by Peter Shortall whose first cousin Robert Forstall of Kilfera Castle (d. 1645), was the father of Patrick Forstall, Michael Forstall, and William Forstall. Robert Forstall (viv 1664), son of Patrick, and grandson of Robert Forstall of Kilfera (d. 1645), inherited the Kilfera estate which was forfeit after his involvement in the Eleven Years’ War.

In October of 1734, William Forstall of Ballyreddin, and John Forstall of Ballyreddin, let 24 irish acres of Kilbline to Michael Shee of Bennettsbridge; and in February of 1765, John Shee, Esq, the grandson of John Shee of Sheestown and Ballyreddin, leased lands at Bennettsbridge and Ballyreddin to William Forstall, John Forstall, and Michael Forstall, all of Bennettsbridge.

In the Will of Robert Forstall of Kilferagh, dated July 7th, 1645, Robert’s cousin, the aforementioned Peter Shortall, is mentioned, along with his sons Patrick Forstall, William Forstall, and Michael Forstall, and his grandson Robert Forstall (viv 1664). Thus, the Forstall lineage who held lands at Kilbline, Ballyreddin and Bennettsbridge were using the same first names as the progeny of Robert Forstall of Kilfera (d. 1645) and held a lease on lands at Kilbline in the eighteenth century, which were formerly held by the Shortalls, who were maternal ancestors of Robert Forstall of Kilfera (d. 1645), who was the son of James Forstall of Kilfera and Alice Shortall; Alice being an aunt of Peter Shortall who held Kilbline Castle.

In the work titled “In The Shadow of The Steeple,” Vol. 1, Mary Cassin identified two brothers, Michael Forstall (1764-1820) and Phillip Forstall (1758-1831), of the Ballyreddin family, who both became priests. According to Cassin’s research, Phillip was a Franciscan and was ordained in 1786. In 1787, he was appointed guardian of the Franciscan Abbey of Kilkenny, and was the last Franciscan in the Diocese of Ossory upon his death in 1829. Michael Forstall, third son of Robert Forstall of Kilfera (d. 1645), was also a Franciscan friar.

By 1828, William Forrestal, most probably the son of the previously mentioned Robert Forstall of Ballyreddin (viv 1796), was leasing 35 Irish acres at Ballyreddin and Bennettsbridge; and by the time of Griffiths Valuation, John Forrestal was leasing 57 acres at Bennettsbridge, in addition to 4 acres at Ballyredddin, from Richard Shee, Esq. John Forrestal married Ellen Maher or Meagher, and had at least 5 children: Michael (b. 1855), Robert (b.1857), Phillip (1859), Mary (1861). and Bridget (1865). In 1911, Robert Forrestal, aged 55, his wife Johanna, aged 35, and Phillip Forrestal, brother of Robert, aged 52, were recorded living in the same house at Bishopslough, Bennettsbridge, Co. Kilkenny.

Significantly, a marriage record from 1782, from the parish of Kilmakevoge, in the barony of Ida, Co. Killkeny, survives, showing that Robert Forstall of Bennettsbridge married Bridget Phelan of Mullennahone. Notably, the Phelan family were the largest leaseholders at Mullennahone in the mid 19th century and they leased the lands at Mullennahone where the Forrestal castle once stood. The Phelans were intermarried with the Cody family of Carrickcloney, by the marriage of Richard Phelan of Mullennahone who married Margaret Cody of Carrickcloney in 1788; and also by the marriage of Daniel Cody of Carrickcloney to Eleanor Phelan of Mullennahone in the same year.

The Mullennahone and Carrickcloney Forrestals or Forstalls, descend from Edmond Forstall (d. 1677) and Elizabeth Butler of Danganspidogue; their son Peter of Pierce Forrestal possessed the castle and lands of Carrickcloney or Carrigcloney and died in 1683, and was the father of the aforementioned Edmond Dubh Forstall of Gurteens and Kellymount.

The Cody family of Carrickcloney, leased the lands that bordered and surrounded the Forrestal Castle and demesne at Carrickcloney. Richard Cody of Glenmore, the father of Daniel Cody and Margaret Cody of Carrickcloney, was wed to Eleanor O’Sullivan. The O’Sullivan family resided at Carrickcloney where the Cody family also came to reside; another daughter of Richard Cody and Eleanor O’Sullivan, born in 1768, was the goddaughter of Peter Strange and Ally Strange of Aylwardstown.

Dr. John Forstall, the son of Edmond Dubh Forstall, married Marian Strange of Aylwardstown earlier in the 18th century, and his nephew Edmond Bán Forstall Ringville (the son of Pierce Forstall of New Ross and grandson of Edmond Bán Forstall), was the godfather of the aforementioned Peter Strange of Aylwardstown’s son Thomas Strange in 1774.

Edmond Bán Forstall of Ringville (d. 1797) was fostered, in part, by his uncle Hugh Waring of Warington, Co. Kilkenny, the husband of Edmond’s aunt Mary Forstall. Warington, Co. Kilkenny, as aforementioned, borders the townland of Kilfera, the previous seat of the Kilfera Forstalls, where the chieftainship of the Forstall family was held until the mid-17th century.  In 1800, Edmond Bán’s son and heir Pierce Edmond Forstall of Rochestown, was wed to Ellen Shee of Nicholastown, Co. Kilkenny. In 1847, Pierce Edmond Forstall’s son and heir Edmond Forstall of Rochestown, was wed to Anne Strange, the daughter of Laurence Strange of Aylwardstown (granddaughter of the aforementioned Peter Strange).

The map illustrates the locations of the castles and lands of the principal families associated with the Ormond Lordship in Co. Kilkenny. The Butler family who held the title of the Earl of Ormond, were the chief overlords of these families and held Kilkenny Castle in the center of Kilkenny Town. These families consolidated power and lands by forming alliances with one another, and also the Butlers of Ormond, through successive generations of intermarriage with each other for several centuries.

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