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19th Century

Dublin to New Orleans

19th Century Extract II

Sister Mary Paul, Dublin, to Edmond J. Forstall, New Orleans

To E.J. Forstall Esq

My dear Cousin,

Your attorney has ere this, I hope, given you the details of all matters of business, so that I [need] not say more than that my desire is to give you possession of the small portion that remains of the green acres of our ancestors. To see you in possession of Rochestown is a yearning of the soul, a Loyalty to you as chief of my clan stronger than personal affection. I do firmly believe that I may have been permitted to survive my immediate family, that I might be the instrument of this act of Justice to yours.

The tradition I repeat to you, I heard from my Aunt Julia, wife of Pierce Sweetman of Blenheim, Waterford, and mother to Roger Forstall Sweetman of Placentia, Newfoundland. She heard them from the pure venerable lips of our great grandaunt Lyssey — the sister of Uncle John (Dr.).

Aunt Lyssey lived at Ringville with my grandfather and his grandchildren, her great grandnephews and nieces, to the age of 109 years. The father of Lyssey was called ‘Eamon Duff’, the dark Edmond, (tho he was fair haired) from his being serious and grave in his deportment. By his mother, he was descended from the Dukes of Ormond, Plantagenets by descent from the 4th Daughter of King Edward and Elanor of Castile — The Meaghs of Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny were an old Catholic family, the descendants of the ancient Princes of Leinster. Edmond (Eamon) Duff and Elizabeth Meagh lived in Gurteen Castle, now an ivy clad ruin, on the banks of the river Suir, near your own estate of Rochestown. She, our ancestress was a most beautiful, majestic woman. I saw her picture at Rochestown. I am certain they had 21 children; tho’ Uncle John only mentions 12, taking no account of those beloved of God, who died young. There was at that time a Law that tore asunder every holy, social bond of affection; a law, by which a son, by becoming protestant, could deprive his Father of his Estate. To prevent a crime thus sanctioned by Law, the sons of Edmond Duff, were sent to Catholic Countries at the age of seven years. None returned home until after the Father’s death: no wonder he was grave and serious living in such times. From his relations, the De La Freynes (of whom the present Lord de Freyne is the chief) Edmond inherited Brownstown, Bally Riddy, Kilbrahan and Brownsford; sold in 1808 to Power of Kildare, whose title deed of these Estates show the great antiquity of the Forstalls. The beautiful Estate of Ringville was sold to the Dowager Lady Esmond in 1817. These Estates are mentioned in Brewers, ‘Beauties of Ireland’.

In Brenan’s Ecclesiastical History, mention is made of Father Francis Forstall, a distinguished Priest in the days of Charles 1st. In Smith’s History of Waterford, frequent mention is made of the family. In Lynch’s ‘Life of Saint Patrick’, mention is made of the Tombs of the Forstalls’; the motto ‘in corda inimicorum regis,’ their residence in the Co. Kilkenny.

There is a tradition amongst the peasantry that the well of Mullinahone becomes dry when the head of the Forstalls is to depart this life. This, in itself, is a strong proof of the great antiquity of the family. They have such traditions only of Erin’s best and oldest. Heralds may be bribed to fabricate a pedigree: the traditions of the ’tillers of the earth’ are beyond suspicion. Eamon Duff, is still spoken of as a brave defender of his religion & country. I was always called by the people, Miss Forstall of Rinn, though I never lived there. xxxxx

In Down’s fair church, one hallowed tomb contains Bridget Columba Patrick’s blest remains. On the 9th June 1186 these sacred relics were translated from Kildare to Down by order of Pope Urban 3rd. It was thenceforth the place where all noble families chose their last resting place in Ireland. Our tomb, for the last two centuries has been in the churchyard of Kilmakavogue, near your Estate of Rochestown. On that tombstone, in the midst of the sable shield of Forstall, is the shield ‘argent’ of O’ Kennedy, such as it is represented on the seal. The name was, before the use of capital letters ‘fforstall’. Sir Geoffry Forstall was member of the last Catholic Parliament. I have heard the present Sir Henry Winston speaking to my father about the relationship of the Barons Fitzgerald of Brownsford and the Forstalls. He has many of those documents in his possession that would interest you. The Warings, descendants of Mary, sister of Uncle John, are  living in the Co. Kilkenny, most respectable Protestant Gentlemen. xxxxxxx

Mary Paul, once Letitia Forstall.