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Mahon family lineage clarified

Madam -- In reference to the obituary of Col Nicholas Hales Pakenham Mahon (Sunday Independent, May 13, 2012), I wish to impart clarification on the origin of the family.

The papers of the Earl of Ormonde record a Nicholas Mahone as being dispossessed in Co Waterford by the Puritan forces of the British Commonwealth about the year 1655. Family lore in the form of Olive Mahon in discussion with Jim Callery believed that the family came from Waterford. This suggests that rather than being a Cromwellian, Nicholas Mahone was actually a victim of that persecution.

He next surfaces in Dr W Petty's Down Survey owning lands in the townland of Cloonfad in the parish of Aughrim north east of Elphin. Prior to that, he is not recorded in the Strafford Survey of 1636 as recent research demonstrates.

In 1665 he was granted the townland of Farnbeg in Strokestown by Charles II. While this suggests that he was still opposed to Cromwellism and on the Royalist side, it does not prove this fact as Charles did grant some lands to his opponents.

Within the older section of Strokestown Park House (ie Jacobean) a very focal point would have been the fireplace, and over it the acorns and oak leaves still survive in stucco work. The acorns were the symbol of those opposed to Cromwell. Another symbol of significance is the five-petal rose on the mantelpiece itself. A further emblem of the Jacobites was the five-petal white rose of York. It was also the symbol the Rosicrucians/Free Masons. Within the petals lies the Star of David symbol. John Robison in his book Proofs of a Conspiracy says "early masonic ritual was shaped to promote the Stuart cause". Rosicrucian means "rose of the cross".

The Knights Templars, the Free Masons and Jacobites were very closely associated. Visitors to the formal heart of the house would recognise which side the house was really on as opposed to the outward appearance deliberately portrayed.

Nicholas Mahon married a Catholic, Magdalene, the daughter of Arthur French of Moville Castle, Co Galway. She remained Catholic and in her will of 1683 left bequests to local religious; to two orders of friars and two priests, one of whom was Fr Terrance Nary of Kilglass.

Burke's Landed Gentry 1894 asserts that Capt Nicholas Mahon was an officer in the army of Charles I and was Sheriff of Roscommon in 1663 and again in 1665 and 1675. These appointments were all under Charles II after the restoration of 1660 and on his return from hiding in France.

The assertion quoted by Gerald Hanley in The Irish Genealogist and attributed to a John Fallon that "the first Mahon was a Captain in the Williamite army" cannot be correct as Magdalene Mahon when making her will in 1683 describes herself as "widowed". William of Orange did not come to Ireland until June 1690.

Olive Mahon may be correct when she said that the Mahons fought on both sides at the Boyne, but this certainly was not the original Nicholas but may have been the next generation. The sons of the first Nicholas were: -- John, Luke, Bartholomew, Peter and the youngest, Nicholas.

Much of Nicholas's land was acquired by purchase as is exemplified by the deeds in archive holding in the National Library. I hope this clarifies.

Sean Neary,

via email

Sunday Independent