Enter your keyword

The Forstall or Forrestal Surname in Ireland

Forstall or Forrestal History

The Forrestal Irish Coat of Arms

The history of the Forstall or Forrestal family of Ireland, as far as it can confidently be traced, begins in the 13th century. The spelling of the name in written records up until the mid 18th century was most commonly given as Forstall, but there were of course variations to this.

What can be inferred from the available records shows that the Forstall family has never been numerous, except for in the counties of Kilkenny and Wexford, and by the turn of the 19th century many variations to the spelling of the name were created. This was ultimately due to the use of Irish and English speakers writing the name how it sounded to them without having a previous written reference. The original ‘fforstall’ or ‘Forstall’ spelling was presumably a surname that developed from the English language. The pronunciation thereafter became Gaelicized over centuries of use in Ireland which was in line with the Hibernicization of Norman septs. The surname pronounced as “Fuireastal” or “Furristhawl’ in turn, then became Anglicized by English and Irish record keepers, to arrive at various versions like Forrestal, Forrestel, Furestal, Forrestell, Furrestel, Forristal, Forristell, Forrestill, etc, so when the surname is pronounced we are revealing the roots of the family’s deep past in a turbulent Ireland, where early Hiberno-Norman surnames became Gaelicized and then Anglicized back again in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. This is why we find so many confusing and differentiating variations of the surname that have taken so many forms through the last few hundred years, which include, and are certainly not limited to: Forstal, Forestel, Furestal, Furestill, Forrestal, Forrestall, Forstall, Forestal, Forestall, Forristal, Forrestal, Ó Fuireastal (Irish), Mac an Choill (In County Mayo), Mac Coillte, etc.

The last 100 years have brought a more standardized use of the name with Forstall, Forrestal and Forristal becoming the most widely known spellings, but all of these variations are referring to the same family. For the sake of keeping things simple, on this website the original spelling ‘Forstall’ and the variant spelling ‘Forrestal’ will be used primarily throughout, unless we are referring to actual quotes, letters, etc.