BLAKE-FORSTER, Charles Ffrench. The Irish Chieftains; or A Struggle for the Crown: Numerous Notes and a copious Appendix.


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Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1872. Royal octavo. pp. xiii, 728. Green cloth, with heavy ornate gilt to spine and front board, replicated in blind on lower cover. Previous owner’s signature on half-title, initials on title and note on dedication leaf. The finest copy that we have had. Extremely rare in this condition.
The first part of this book is an historical account, in the form of a tale, of the Williamite Wars, from the landing of James II at Kinsale to the surrender of Galway, mentioning all the battles and sieges, except that of Derry. The second part, consisting of 300 pages, has woven into it large sections of notes, appendices, pedigrees, reports, documents, etc. on families of County Galway, but especially the Prendergast, O’Shaughnessy and Blake-Forster clans. The latter is carried on past the Treaty of Limerick down to the final dispossession of the O’Shaughnessys in 1770. It includes many narratives on the history of the Irish Brigade in France, affairs in Ireland at that time (Penal Laws, Rapparees, etc), combined with much topographical knowledge and local tradition.
The author was the eldest son of Capt. Francis Blake-Forster of the Connaught Rangers, and was born at Forster St. House, Galway, in 1851. He was educated privately by a tutor, and in England. The first place he visited on his return home was Fidane Castle, and gazing on its ruins, he resolved, like Gibbon in the Coliseum, to write its history. He played a prominent part in the public life of the City of the Tribes, as town councillor, guardian of the poor, and in 1874 was appointed High Sheriff. He was popular as a public figure and a landlord, for no tenants were ever evicted from his estate at Kinvara. He died at the very young age of twenty-three years; this would explain why the six interesting historical titles listed on the verso of the half title were never published. His nephew wrote that he: “was expelled from the County Clubs of Galway and Ennis, and the principal Clubs of Dublin, on account of the opinions, Jacobite and Nationalist, expressed in his ‘Irish Chieftains’, and because the binding bore an uncrowned harp.”


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