Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Pat Purcell Papers

Irish National Foresters


The Irish National Foresters

(Coillteoirí Náisiúnta na hÉireann in Irish) is an Irish friendly society.

The INF began in 1877 as a breakaway from the Ancient Order of Foresters after political disagreements. The INF grew rapidly and soon became the largest friendly society in Ireland. It supported Irish nationalism and its constitution called for "government for Ireland by the Irish people in accordance with Irish ideas and Irish aspirations".

By 1914 the order had spread worldwide and had a quarter of a million members in over 1,000 branches. The influx of Irish labour into Scotland in the 19th century saw the movement gain a foothold, first in the west and later as far as the east coast.

With the establishment of the Irish Free State and the gradual expansion of the social welfare system, the INF went into decline. Some branches, particularly in Northern Ireland, continue to exist.

Images of Irish National Foresters, Carlow supplied by Mr J.J. Woods. Source Mr M. Purcell c2207.


Click on image to enlarge

  At Carlow Railway station, 1962:

Pat Purcell's wife, Maggie is third from left and 4th is Esther Lyons. The men are Tommy Corcoran, Pat Purcell, Christy Broderick, Liam Woods, Pado Redmond and Frank Hutton, wearing the sash or collarette

Click on image to enlarge

  In Tullamore, Co. Offaly. 1964:

Back row (l to r):(? Wexford), George Ramsbottom, (? Wexford), Christy Broderick, Pat Purcell, J. J. Woods, Tommy Corcoran, three from Wexford.

Front: (? Wexford), Liam Woods, Tommy Dooley and Pado Redmond.

The Carlow uniforms were reputed to have been made circa 1860 for a Dublin branch and on its dissolution the Carlow branch purchased them.

Retrieved from 

St Patrick's Parade 1967
This photograph is showing the Carlow Pipe Band and the Carlow branch of the Foresters. the photograph was taken of the St. Patrick's Day parade in 1967.
Reading from left to right the Foresters are: Front row: Pat Purcell, Tommy Corcoran, John Smith
Second row: George Ramsbottom
Third row: Dick Donovan, Christy Broderick, Liam Woods
Fourth row: Martin Brophy, Pado Redmond, J. J. Woods
Frank Hutton is directly behind Martin Brophy. Pat Purcell is, of course, the man who collected the marvellous resource that his nephew Michael who has transcribed for and placed on this website.
Source: J.J. Woods c.2012

The St.Patrick Brigade. Carlow

The following is part of research carried out by Gary Heary for his book "Blood On The Ground: Rebellion, Warfare & Unrest In Carlow;" is the first book from the up and coming author, Due for release, late Summer 2012

Decorative piece
National Foresters plumed hat
National Foresters badge
National Foresters button
A decorative piece from the Irish National Foresters, that the Carlow County Military Museum were kind enough to allow me to photograph. What makes it even more interesting is that this article comes from the Carlow Branch of the society, The St. Patrick Brigade.

Painting, by the author Gary Heary, of a National Foresters plumed hat. This plumed hat* came from the Carlow Branch of the Foresters, the St. Patrick Branch
Source: With kind permission of Gary Heary c.2012

National Foresters Bicorne style hat
The hat displayed *above on this page about the Foresters would not have been the original one for the uniform. According to F. Glenn Thompson, National Museum of Ireland Military Historian and author of numerous articles, the hat would have been a bicorne as per attached image. Also, since the Irish National Foresters was only established in 1877 the Carlow uniforms would probably only date from then or some time later. Apparently they were originally owned by Branch 9 in Dublin. In the 1960s I was told they were about 120 years old but with hindsight I don't think that was a realistic time frame. The 'decorative piece' is the bottom of a sash. All the officers had sashes embroidered with their role, e.g. High Chief Ranger, Sub High Chief Ranger, Treasurer, Secretary, Senior and Junior Woodwards, and Senior and Junior Beadles. The rank and file wore a plain sash.
Source: J.J. Woods c.2012

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© 2001 County Carlow Genealogy IGP