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O’Donovan’s Survey Letters & GO MS 178

Forstall or Forrestal History

The Mullennahone and Carrickloney Forstall or Forrestal Lineage

An important letter in John O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Letters for Kilmakevoge Parish, Co. Kilkenny, which were produced in 1838-1839 provides the detail that Pierce Edmond Forstall or Forrestal, Esq, of Rochestown, stated that his ancestors formerly possessed the castles of Mullennahone and Carrickcloney. Pierce Edmond Forstall was the son and heir of Edmond Bán Forstall or Forrestal of Ringville, and grandson of Pierce Forstall of New Ross. Specifically, the author of the Ordnance Letter referred to states:


Extract from the Ordnance Survey Letters: “There were castles in the townlands of Mullennahone and Carrickcloney in this parish of which there are some remaining. Pierce Edmond Forrestal, of Rochestown, Esq, says that these castles belonged to his ancestors, but I have no documents to prove whether he is right or wrong,”


The passage here is significant, because not only was Pierce Edmond the surviving heir of the Mullennahone and Carrickloney Lineage, and therefore chief of his name, but it would appear he was in fact consulted regarding these townlands (he was living at this time as he died in 1843) and gave the historical account he knew in regards to his family. The writers reluctancy to accept Pierce’s word on the matter can be seen as the simple honest remark of a historian or journalist; he recorded the information, but could not (or perhaps did not bother to spend the effort to) verify it.

The ordnance letter mentioned above may be why Rev. William Carrigan in his work The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory Volume IV, published in 1905 (which previous to the publications The Forrestals of Ireland and The Lineage of Mullennahone 1571-1855 was the first publication with expanded details concerning the Forstall or Forrestal family who held lands in the Barony of Ida) ended up portraying the Mullennahone and Carrickcloney families as separate branches. Carrigan published Pierce Edmond Forstall’s pedigree recorded in O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Letters verbatim in The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory Vol. IV.

In The Lineage of Mullennahone 1571-1855 Pierce’s ancestors and kinship networks are traced through land acquisitions and forfeitures, deeds, marriage alliances and baptism records, providing the evidence and certainty that he was in fact that the heir of the Mullennahone and Carrickcloney Forstall or Forrestal lineage who held castles at both places.

Pierce Edmond Forstall’s statement above in regards to his family is perhaps the earliest reference to an individual stating that the Mullennahone and Carrickcloney Forstalls did indeed stem from the same lineage, a statement that the present author was unaware of until August of 2022 (after the publishing of The Lineage of Mullennahone 1571-1855). Pierce’s daughter Letitia who became a nun and was known as Sister Mary Paul features in three letters published on this website (more letters are included in The Lineage of Mullennahone 1571-1855). In the letters Letitia never mentions her ancestors lived at Mullennahone or Carrickcloney, leaving the reader to wonder how much family knowledge her father Pierce Edmond Forstall imparted unto her.

Letitia also never calls her great-grandfather ‘Pierce’ (her father’s namesake) in the letters, and refers to him as Edmond Peter or Edmond Pierce. Additionally, she claims that Edmond Duff Forstall (her great-great grandfather) was descended from the Dukes of Ormond through his mother, when in fact he was descended from the Earls of Ormond through his grandmother Elizabeth Butler (Edmond Duff’s mother was Mary Aylward, the daughter of Nicholas Aylward who was the namesake of Edmond Duff’s son Nicholas Forstall who lived in Martinique and also Edmond Duff’s brother Nicholas Forstall of New Ross). This appears to have caused further confusion when Genealogical Manuscript 178 (GO Ms 178) was produced concerning the lineage (the manuscript looks to have been created in the period between 1860-1865) and was afterwards kept in the records office at the National Library in Ireland for reference. The manuscript, in which key genealogical details appear to have been taken from Letitia’s letters, was most probably produced for Charles Forstall who was living in Paris at the time. In the manuscript Pierce Forstall of New Ross, the grandfather of Pierce Edmond Forstall of Rochestown, is referred to erroneously as “Edmond Peter Forstall of Ringville.” The brother of Pierce Forstall of New Ross, Dr. John Forstall, clearly refers to him as Pierce when Dr. John corresponds with his nephew Nicholas Forstall of New Orleans, Pierce being the name of Dr. John and Pierce’s grandfather Pierce or Peter Forstall of Carrickcloney, he is also named as Peter on his marriage license and Pierce in chancery records and deeds. Additionally, the manuscript then makes the mistake of assigning an ‘Eleanor Butler of Dangan’ as the mother of Edmond Duff Forstall.

The aforementioned Charles Forstall was descended from Nicholas Forstall of New Orleans and was a cousin of Edmond Jean Forstall to whom Letitia was writing in the letters. Edmond must have therefore shared the letters Letitia wrote to him with Charles. Charles is the last person in the lineage shown on GO MS 178 and furthermore a reference in The Social State of the Southern and Eastern Counties of Ireland in the Sixteenth Century (1870) states that ‘Mons. C. Forestall of Paris is believed to be the Head of the Kilkenny Forestalls.’ Perhaps Charles was looking to obtain recognition of some sort as chief of the line and therefore had the manuscript commissioned. In addition to Charles, Edmond Jean Forstall, his cousin, also spent time in Paris during his lifetime.

Manuscript GO MS 178 was thereafter used as the source reference for at least two publications referring to the genealogy of the Forstalls; namely Creole Families of New Orleans (1921) and Old Families of Louisiana (1931), which in addition to manuscript GO Ms 178 erroneously name Eleanor Butler of Dangan and Edmond Forstall as the parents of Edmond Dubh or Duff Forstall (the ancestor of the New Orleans lineage) when in fact Edmond Dubh was the son of Pierce Forstall or Forrestal of Carrickcloney and Mary Aylward of Aylwardstown, and grandson of Edmond Forstall of Mullennahone Castle and Elizabeth Butler of Danganspidogue Castle.

The lineage of the Mullennahone and Carrickcloney Forstall or Forrestal family, has been sourced and evidenced in great detail in The Lineage of Mullennahone 1571-1855.

Copyright © 2022 Michael Forrestal Keller