There were at least four castles held by the Forstall or Forrestal dynasty of Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, during the 16th and 17th centuries. Three of these castles were situated in the Barony of Ida and were located within 10 km of New Ross at Mullennahone, Carrickcloney, and Forrestalstown, The fourth castle, which was held by the Kilfera Forstall lineage (the chief branch of the Forstalls until their demise in the mid to late 17th century) was located in the barony of Shillelogher, situated on the River Nore about 4 km south of Kilkenny Castle. It is likely the Kilfera Forstalls also held a castle at Ballyfrunk (located in the Barony of Crannagh) as a castle there is mentioned in the will of Robert Forstall which was proved in 1645.
Perhaps the earliest depiction of one of the castles mentioned above is shown on Gerardus Mercator’s Map of Ireland which was first published in the 16th century. With a detailed examination of this map and maps from the 17th century, depicting the same area, it appears plausible that a castle location shown as ‘C. Tostal’ on Gerardus Mercator’s map is meant to be that of Mullennahone Castle which may have then been called, in actuality, ‘Castle Forstall’ at that time. The location of ‘C. Tostal’ on this map may correspond (roughly) to where the present day townland of Mullennahone, Co Kilkenny, is located as can been seen in relation to New Ross on the map.
In Baptista Boazio’s map of Ireland which dates from 1606 we are able to see the townland of Mullennahone shown as ‘Moneihowen’ which appears in a somewhat similar location as the aforementioned ‘C. Tostal’ on Gerardus Mercator’s 16th century Map.
One year later in William Hole’s 1607 Map of Ireland we are able to see ‘C. Tostal’ which was formerly depicted in Gerardus Mercator’s 16th century map, now shown as ‘Ca Teytal’ or ‘Ca Testal.’ The location here, as aforementioned, corresponding roughly to where Mullennahone Castle was located in relation to New Ross and therefore perhaps meant to be ‘Castle Forstall’ with ‘Teytal’ or ‘Testal’ and ‘Tostal’ then being errors in transcription or translation for ‘Forstall.’
Just a few years later in John Speed’s 1610 map of Ireland the castle or residence of Mullennahone or ‘Moneyhone’ is shown in addition to what is perhaps the first depiction of Forrestalstown Castle shown as ‘Roftall’ located almost directly on the River Barrow, around the area where the current modern day Forrestalstown is located. Note the close proximity of ‘Roftall’ in relation to New Ross; New Ross being located on the Wexford side of the River Barrow.
Moving forward around fifty years in time the wonderfully detailed Down Survey Map of the Barony of Ida, Co Kilkenny, which was completed around 1659, depicts all three Forstall or Forrestal castles in the Barony of Ida, and provides a very useful frame of reference for the locations depicted in the previous maps.
Of interest, of course, is that due to its location or distant proximity to New Ross and the River Barrow, Mullennahone Castle would appear to be a more reasonable candidate for ‘C. Tostal’ or ‘Ca Testal’ (if this was in fact meant to be Castle Forstall) depicted in the earliest maps as opposed to Forrestalstown Castle which is located in very close proximity to the River Barrow. This may then provide some insight as to the order in which the castles were constructed or perhaps their overall importance to the family.
However, the Forstall castle in ida barony that does not appear in the first two maps, which is that of Carrickcloney Castle shown as ‘Carrignegloniny’ on the Down Survey Map, is the first place in which royal pardons of Forstalls are recorded in Ida, which occured in 1548-1549. This castle looks (at least from the maps) to have been a smaller castle residence compared to that of Mullennahone and Forrestalstown Castles and may have been the earliest, as the first Forstall royal pardon associated with Forrestalstown occured in 1566, while those of Mullennahone occurred in 1571.
If we accept that ‘C. Tostal’ or ‘Ca Teytal’ depicted in the early maps was in fact ‘Castle Forstall’ or Mullennahone Castle, it seems likely that when these maps were created the Forstall lineage of Mullennahone, in the barony of Ida, had reached, or were approaching, the zenith of their relevance. This would correspond with two very important Forstall marriage alliances that the Mullennahone lineage contracted during this time period; one being with the Power lineage of Rathgormack, Co. Waterford, and then the next successive marriage alliance being with that of the Butler Lineage of Danganspidgoue.
It is speculated, based upon certain evidences, in The Lineage of Mulleannahone 1571-1855 (3rd edition) that it is likely the Forstalls were also intermarried with the Butler lineage of Annaghs Castle (cousins to the Danginspidogue Butlers) during the 16th century; Annaghs townland bordering that of Forrestalstown (see map below).
Richard Forstall or Forrestal held Mullennahone Castle before it was conferred to his grandson Edmond Forstall after 1639. Edmond Forstall forfeit the castle and lands due to his involvement in the Eleven Years’ War. While Pierce or Peter Forstall (d. 1683), Edmond’s son and heir, forfeit the castle and lands of Carrickcloney. James Forstall forfeit the castle and lands of Forstallstown, and Patrick Forstall of Kilfera, son of Robert, and great-grandson of Robert Forstall who is named as ‘Chief of his Nation on his gravestone’ forfeit the castle and lands of Kilfera and Ballyfrunk located in the barony of Shillelogher.
Depictions of the castles of Mullennahone, Forrestalstown, and Carrickcloney, as given on the original version of the 1657 Down Survey map are of interest as they give a little more detail as to the appearance of the castles. Additionally, it looks as though Mullennahone Castle may have been at least partially damaged by that time. Perhaps it was besieged by Cromwell’s forces?
And what of the Castle of Kilfera where the chief lineage of The Forstall dynasty resided until the aftermath of the Eleven Years’ War set in? Interestingly enough, it appears as though the only depictions we are able to behold of Kilfera castle are those given on the Down Survey Map for the Barony of Shillelogher. Which means that although the chieftainship of the family was held at Kilfera, the Forstall residences in the Barony Ida, for reasons unknown, were more significant to the early 17th century mapmakers which then warranted the depiction of their locations. In fact, as we can see from the Down Survey Maps, there were several castles in the barony of Ida which are not depicted in the earlier maps, and of course, there were the important families who were associated with them and their corresponding residences which were not given any mention (the de Freyne or Freney lineage of Ballyreddy Castle, the Aylwards of Aylwardstown Castle, and the FitzGerald-O’Dea lineage of Gurteens Castle to name a few); while instead of course, two Forstall residences (Mullennahone and Forrestalstown) were given this treatment. It is therefore, quite remarkable that the location of Forstall residences in early 17th century maps are depicted, and moreover, it is important to note, that this may then be a direct reflection of how powerful or influential the Forstall families residing in the barony of Ida were becoming in this region of Kilkenny at the beginning of the 17th century in Ireland. Furthermore, when viewing William Hole’s 1607 map of Ireland, in addition to the the aforementioned ‘Ca Teytal’ there are only two other castle settlements depicted for the entire county of Kilkenny, one being Kilkenny Castle, and the other being Callan Castle, where Richard Forstall is recorded as holding the position as sovereign in 1593.
The last castle the Forstall or Forrestal family of Ireland dwelt in was that of Gurteens in the parish of Rathpatrick. This castle, however, was formerly the property of the FitzGerald-O’Dea dynasty and became the property of the Forstall family after a key marriage alliance with the Aylwards. Nicholas FitzGerald-O’Dea who held the castle and lands of Gurteens was the father of Ellen FitzGerald who was wed to Peter Aylward of Aylwardstown Castle. Peter and Ellen were the parents of Nicholas Aylward, named after his maternal grandfather Nicholas FitzGerald-O’Dea. Nicholas Aylward would go on to marry Ellen Kelly or Kealy of Gowran. Mary Aylward, the daughter of Nicholas Aylward and Ellen Keally or Kelly, was then wed to the aforementioned Pierce Forstall or Forrestal who forfeit Carrickcloney Castle (see above, Pierce was the son of Edmond Forstall of Mullennahone Castle).
Pierce’s son and heir Edmond Dubh Forstall of Mullennahone, Gurteens, and Kellymount (d. 1733), was in possession of Gurteens Castle and lands until he sold them in 1714 to John Walker. However, members of the Forstall or Forrestal family were still living at Gurteens in the late 18th century.
The Progeny of the Forstall lineage who held the residence of Mullennahone Castle, which, as shown above, may have been formerly called ‘Castle Forstall’ in the 16th century, has been traced in great detail in The Lineage of Mulleannahone 1571-1855 which has been archived by the National Library of Ireland for public use and reference.
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