Book Reviews

Deservedly, the first edition of The Wall Family in Ireland 1170-1970 received excellent reviews and generous praise from a number of eminent historians like G.A. Hayes McCoy and E. McLysagth. Extracts from the Hayes McCoy and McLysagth reviews and those of Eileen O’Brien ( Irish Times ), W.D.O’Connell ( Cork Examiner ) and Jean Sheridan ( Leinster Leader ) are set out below for your information. You can purchase the book here.

The Norman influence in Ireland is markedly different to England in that Norman blood runs through the veins of a large percentage of the ordinary Irish people. Nothing to do with the Normans is straightforward and to be of Norman ancestry often had its advantages in Ireland, even in the days of the landlords. Perhaps this is one reason why there is a continuing interest among people with Norman ancestry in tracing their roots.

Hubert Gallwey’s book – first published 40 years ago – has been republished to satisfy the curiosity of one Anglo-Norman family, the Walls, who down the years were, variously, du Val, Ware or Wale. In this work, the Wall family is successfully traced from a fief in Normandy through England and South Wales to Ireland.

They were one of the first knightly families to occupy Irish lands after the Norman invasion of 1170 and their history is followed, generation by generation,through the succeeding eight centuries. This account of the Wall family is the most thorough piece of genealogical investigation to be carried out upon a knightly family with an Irish background and is the result of several years of research not only in Ireland, but also in England, France and Spain. If your name is Wall – or even if you are of another branch of the Norman invaders – it’s a must.

Review by Peter Levy, Irish Examiner, 2nd January, 2010

The Walls are an interesting family. Their origins lay, apparently, in Normandy, and they came to Ireland with the first of the Norman invaders in the period 1169 -’74. Their name which is in all probability derived from that of a district in Normandy, was originally du Val or de Valle and they seem – three brothers of them – to have made their entry to Ireland in association with Raymond le Gros.

Deriving his information from what has quite obviously been a long and diligent study of primary source material, Hubert Gallwey, tells in detail the fascinating story of this family. He follows the fortunes of the Walls through the sad 17th century when they remained Catholics and as part of the Irish majority, fought twice on the losing side, and lost most of their property for having done so.

He pursues many of them into exile on the continent and has much to say of such prominent bearers of the family name as Don Ricardo Wall, the great Lieutenant-General Patrick Comte de Wall who fought at Culloden and was later military governor of Paris.

G.A. Hayes McCoy, Hibernia, 22 January, 1971

A 14th century de Valle slew a bailiff in Tipperary. Another, Sir Richard, was the third husband of Alice Kyteler the witch. In 1655 Walter Wale, Augustinian prior of Tullow in Carlow, suffered martyrdom on the gallows.

Like most families, the Walls had their fools, villians, heroes, and saints. Mr Gallwey, who is editor of the Irish Genealogist, traces different branches of the clan since their arrival in the 12th century.

Staunch Jacobites, many Walls fought on far foreign fields in the service of France or Spain. Others stood their ground: Charles Wall fought at Aughrim, Garrett Wall in the defence of Drogheda against an assault led by Cromwell in person.

Eileen O’Brien, Irish Times, 27th March, 1971

The author of this book set himself the task of giving a comprehensive and accurate account of the various branches of the Wall family from the time they came to Ireland in the late twelfth century to the present day. In this he has been eminently successful. It is evidently the result of long and thorough research, presented in a systematic and readable form.

As the ‘blurb’ says-I hardly like to use the word blurb as it may suggest undue eulogy- ‘A unique insight is provided….into the complex system of feudal land tenure, the effects of rebellions and confiscations upon the fortunes of different branches of one sept, and the narrow margin which separated settler from native at many points in Irish history.

E. Mc Lysagth, Vol 4, Part 4 1971 The Irish Genealogist

Soldiers All: The history of the Coolnamuck Walls who intermarried with the Fitzgeralds, Powers, Butlers, Prendergasts and Comerfords is fascinating. Garrett of Coolnamuck met Hugh 0′ Neill at Holy Cross before the battle of Kinsale and was lucky to get a pardon in May 1601. Another, William, who was buried in the Franciscan Friary at Carrick Beg, married Catherine, daughter of the first Viscount Mountgarrett, President of the Supreme Council of the Confederates.

His son, Walter, was one of the defenders of Clonmel against Cromwell and had seen service in the Hapsburg armies before coming back to fight at home. Another son, Michael, a colonel in the French army served under Mountgarret in County Cork and later returned to the continent. A general in the French army, he was killed at Rocroy. Another brother, Richard, was also a colonel in the French army, indeed the Walls gave distinguished service in the Irish brigades.

W.D. O’Connell, Cork Examiner, 25 March, 1971

A book which has been described as “the most thorough work of genealogical investigation ever carried out on a Norman family of Irish background” came from its publishers, Leinster Leader, last week. It deals with the Walls, a family which, while it played an important role in the history of this country, rarely walked in its limelight, though it could boast a pedigree so lengthy and well documented as to make many Irish families parvenu by comparison.

Every member of the Wall family in Ireland or of Irish ancestry is descended from three Norman knights, Gilbert, Stephen and Hay de Valle, followers of Strongbow who arrived in Ireland in 1169 or 1170.

Jean Sheridan, The Leinster Leader, March, 1971