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5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Father Patrick Wolfe 5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Peter Woulfe
5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Arthur Wolfe 5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Stephen Woulfe
5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Francis, Cpt. George and Maj. Gen. James Wolfe 5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Rev. Charles Wolfe
5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Patrick, John  and David Wolfe 5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Father David Wolfe, SJ
5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Tone, (Theobald) Wolfe 5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Maurice Wolfe
5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Forenaught House, home of the Kildare Wolfe family 5bl.jpg (815 bytes)Phil Ulf of Limerick

Famous Wo(u)lfe People


Father Patrick Woulfe (d.1933), the Gaelic scholar who wrote Sloinnie Gaedeal is Gall, an Irish/English dictionary of Irish surnames and their origins, writes, ‘ Ulf ' Wulf Woulfe, Wolfe son of Ulf, is a common personal name among all Teutonic races. As a surname, like so many others, it came to Ireland about the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion and is found in early Dublin rolls. Wolf,’ he writes, ‘is descriptive of one of a rapacious disposition.’

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A branch of the Woulfe family lived in a district called Crioch Bhulbhach near the town of Monasterevan, County Kildare.

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FRANCIS,   Cpt. GEORGE and Major. General  JAMES  WOLFE

Records show that the Woulfe's of Limerick took an active part in the affairs of that city from the fourteenth to the middle of the sixteenth century. In 1651, when he took Limerick, Ireton exempted from pardon a Father Francis Woulfe and a Captain George Woulfe. This George Woulfe was the great-grandfather of General James Woulfe (1727-1759), the hero of Quebec.

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REV. FATHER DAVID WOULFE   S.J. (1523-IS78), Papal Legate
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, David Wolfe of Limerick was sent to Rome to study. With Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Borgia as contemporaries, he was ordained a Jesuit and was sent back to Ireland in 1560 by the Pope as an Apostolic Legate to look after the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, to establish schools, to regulate public worship and to keep lines of communication open with the Catholic princes—a challenging assignment in those days when a priest went about at the peril of his life.

Eventually he was arrested and for a number of years he suffered rigorous imprisonment in Dublin Castle. He managed to escape to Spain but he was soon back again, faithfully carrying on his vocation. When the continual wars made it impossible for him to fulfil his duties he took refuge in a castle in Connacht. Scrupling to share their food with its occupants when he discovered they had got it by plunder, he sickened and died about the year 1578, Father David Woulfe has left an interesting description of Ireland at that time. .

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In the seventeenth century, because they sided with the Geraldines, the Woulfe's were transplanted to Connacht—a Patrick, John and David Woulfe are mentioned specifically.

The Woulfe's from Ireland were prominent in France at the time of the French Revolution, both in the church and army. 

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Peter Woulfe (1727?-1803), a chemist and mineralogist of Irish origin discovered native tin in Cornwall in 1766. He invented an apparatus for passing gases through liquids which became known as Woulfe's Bottle.

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Stephen Woulfe (1787-1840), an Irish judge of Ennis, was of the Woulfe family that settled in County Limerick as far back as the fifteenth century. They remained staunch Roman Catholics and he was one of the earliest Roman Catholic students to gain admission to Trinity College, Dublin. He studied for the Bar and became a good advocate taking an active part in Irish politics. He made himself remarkable by withstanding Daniel O'Connell, mainly in regard to the securities which were demanded as the corollary of Catholic emancipation. Stephen Woulfe was appointed Crown Counsel of Munster and made Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, being the first Roman Catholic to be so appointed

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Arthur Wolfe (1739-1803) was the son of John Wolfe of Forenaughts, also called Furness, in County Kildare. His portrait hangs in the dining-hall of Trinity College, Dublin, where he was Vice Chancellor in 1802. He was a Chief Justice of the King's Bench and for his support of the Union he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Kilwarden. He was not thought to be a great lawyer but he had a noble and humane disposition. He showed this when he refused to strain the law against those tried before him for taking part in the insurrection of 1798, and he displayed spirit on the occasion of Wolfe Tone’s trial by court-martial.

The reaction against the death on the scaffold of the young rebel, Robert Ernmet, on 23rd of July 1803 was very deeply felt. That evening, Viscount Kilwarden, with his daughter and nephew, drove into Dublin on their way to a gathering at the Castle. Nearby, in Thornas  Street, his carriage was stopped, and a pike was plunged into his body. His nephew was killed outright and his daughter managed to escape. As Kilwarden lay dying some officers swore they would hang those they had taken prisoners on the spot. With his last breath Kilwarden admonished then, ‘Murder must be punished, but let no man suffer for my death but on a fair trial and by the laws of his country.’ Barrington wrote of him: ‘He had not an error to counterbalance which some merit did not exhibit itself,’ Descendants of the Wolfe family still live at Furness in County Kildare.

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The Reverend Charles Wolfe (1791-1823), a relative of Viscount Kilwarden, was one of eleven children, the youngest of eight sons. His father died-when he was very young and his mother managed to get him an excellent education at Winchester and Dublin University where he took orders. He spent the rest of his short life as curate of Donaghtnore, County Down.

A man of singularly spiritual and feeling nature, it was said of him: ‘In the lottery of literature, Charles Wolfe has been one of the few who have drawn the prize of probable immortality from a casual gleam of inspiration thrown over a single poem consisting of only a few stanzas.’ The poem, penned in 1814, inspired by a passage written by Southey in the Edinburgh Annual Register, was The Burial of Sir John Moore. Charles Wolfe, completely devoted to his clerical duties, thought little of his poetry and was unperturbed at the attribution of his poem to many of the leading poets of the day. Byron first noticed the poem in 1822 and was most enthusiastic about it. Wolfe, who neglected himself utterly, died of consumption on the way to France in the care of his sisters. After his death, a letter preserved in the Royal Irish Academy showed absolute proof that Charles Wolfe was the writer of the poem. It was also discovered from his papers that, hid his life span been extended, he would probably have taken his place among the foremost poets of his day.

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Maurice Wolfe (d. 1915), of Cratloe, Athea, County Limerick, went to America to join the U.S. Army and saw much service there during the civil war in which a very large number cl Irishmen took part. All during his service he wrote letters home. He made friends with the American Indians and got a pony from them in return for a burning glass. He describes how ‘the Redskins capture and burn the mails which might account for any delay in communications with home!’ He sent presents home; moccasins for his mother and an Indian scalp for his brother! During the French war against Prussia, he wrote that the Irish were in sympathy with the French. These letters, written between 1863 and 1874, were published in 1957 in The Irish Sword, the magazine of the Irish Military History Society.


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WOLFE TONE    (Theobald) Wolfe)

Tone, (Theobald) Wolfe  b. Jan. 20, 1763, Dublin d. Nov. 19, 1798, Dublin Irish republican and rebel who sought to overthrow English rule in Ireland and who led a French military force to Ireland during the insurrection of 1798.  Theobald Wolfe is thought to be a cousin, although this is not proven,  to the Wolfe family of Skibbereen.

The son of a coach maker, Tone studied law and was called to the Irish bar (1789) but
soon gave up his practice. In October 1791 he helped found the Society of United
Irishmen, a predominantly Protestant organization that worked for parliamentary
reforms, such as universal suffrage and Roman Catholic emancipation.

In Dublin (1792) he organized a Roman Catholic convention of elected delegates that
forced Parliament to pass the Catholic Relief Act of 1793. Tone himself, however, was
anticlerical and hoped for a general revolt against religious creeds in Ireland as a
sequel to the attainment of Irish political freedom.

By 1794 he and his United Irishmen friends began to seek armed aid from Revolutionary France to help overthrow English rule. After an initial effort failed, Tone
went to the United States and obtained letters of introduction from the French minister
at Philadelphia to the Committee of Public Safety in Paris.

Arriving in the French capital (February 1796), Tone presented his plan for a French
invasion of Ireland and was favourably received. The Directory then appointed one of
the most brilliant young French generals, Lazare Hoche, to command the expedition
and made Tone an adjutant in the French Army.

On Dec. 15, 1796, Tone sailed from Brest with 43 ships and nearly 14,000 men. But the ships were badly handled and, after reaching the coast of west Cork and Kerry, were dispersed by a storm. Tone again brought an Irish invasion plan to Paris in October 1797, but the principal French military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, took little interest.

When insurrection broke out in Ireland in May 1798, Tone could only obtain enough
French forces to make small raids on different parts of the Irish coast. In September he
entered Lough Swilly, Donegal, with 3,000 men and was captured there. On November 10 at his trial in Dublin he defiantly proclaimed his undying hostility to England and his desire "in fair and open war to produce the separation of the two countries." Early in the morning of November 12, the day he was to be hanged, he cut his throat with a penknife and died seven days later.



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by Edmund De Burca

Theobald Wolfe, Vindication of the Cause of the Catholics of Ireland, Adopted, And ordered to be published by The General Committee, at A Meeting Held at Taylor's-Hall, Back-Lane, December 7, 1792. To which is subjoined The Declaration Subscribed by the Catholics of Ireland: also the Letter and Plan of the Sub-Committee for the Appointment of Delegates. Dublin: Printed by Appointment, by H. Fitzpatrick, 2 Upper Ormond-Quay, 1793. pp. [ii], 38.

Theobald Wolfe Tone, Patriot, United Irishman and Radical, was born in Dublin, 20th June, 1763. His father carried on a coach-building business, his grandfather owned property at Bodenstown, Co. Kildare. Early in his life, Irish affairs were to dominate his philosophy, and he formed decided opinions that shaped his future life: "I made speedily what was to me a great discovery, though I might have found it in Swift or Molyneux, that the influence of England was the radical vice of our Government, and consequently that Ireland would never be either free, prosperous, or happy, until she was independent, and that independence was unattainable whilst the connection with England existed ... This theory ... has ever since unvaryingly directed my political conduct".

Tone is widely regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism, and every year a commemoration is held by Sinn Fein and others at his grave in Bodenstown Churchyard. His reputation owes much to the engaging personality revealed in his posthumously published journals and autobiography, and to his dramatic and ultimately tragic career. The year 1792, was the busiest in Tone's political career. In the course of a few months he journeyed three times to Belfast, to effect the union between the Catholics and Dissenters, in which he succeeded; besides several other journeys to Galway, Mayo and elsewhere to rally the Catholics in the common cause. During the same period he formed the first clubs of the United Irishmen. Towards the close of that year he had replaced Richard Burke (Edmund's son) as Secretary of the Catholic Committee, which was originally formed to give formal representation to Catholic interests. From 1 91 a more militant group led by John Keogh and Edward Byrne seized control of the Committee provoking the secession in December, 1791 of a conservative faction led by Lord Keninare.

The Convention was held at the Tailors' Hall and opened on the 3rd of December, 1792, attended by 233 delegates from all over the country, with all the forms of a legislative assembly, popularly known as the 'Back Lane Parliament', and declared itself "the only power competent to speak the sense of the Catholics of Ireland". It then went into committee to discuss the petition to the King. Each paragraph was approved unanimously, until the last, spelling out their demands. Luke Teeling, a linen merchant from Lisburn, proposed that nothing short of complete emancipation should be demanded. It must have proved gratifying to Tone to find that it was the very counties of Galway and Mayo which had proved so difficult to convert that summer, which grasped the nettle and proposed bypassing the detested Irish administration altogether and presenting the petition directly to the King.

The Vindication contrasts the humble and the humble petitions of the Catholics with the exaggeration and objection of the Grand Juries' resolutions. Most of these were "either high in the Government of this country, or enjoying very lucrative places under the Government". Tone singled out Foster's role in Louth and Fitzgibbon's in Limerick. He discusses the Catholic issue in terms of the constitutional status of Ireland, and decries those critics who denounce Catholic reform as a danger to the connection with Britain. The Catholics are "good and loyal subjects ... But the Catholics of Ireland well know the treachery which lurks beneath this false imputation on their loyalty". The real enemies of the connection are those who claim that Catholic liberty is incompatible with loyalty, and who reduce the question "to the dreadful alternative of slavery or resistance".

In a deliberate snub to the Irish executive the petition was not sent through the Lord Lieutenant, but Tone and others presented it directly to the King in London. The evidence of Catholic determination and organisational strength persuaded the government to grant a substantial Catholic Relief Act the following year.

The political thinking of Tone was strongly influenced by the democratic principles of the French revolutionary leaders. He was becoming an ardent Republican, and convinced that if Ireland was ever to become free and independent she must try "To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country - these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter - these were my means. To effectuate these great objects, I reviewed the three great sects. The Protestants 1 despaired of from the outset, for obvious reasons. Already in possession, by an unjust monopoly, of the whole power and patronage of the country, it was not to be supposed they would ever concur in measures, the certain tendency of which must be to lessen their influence as a party, how much soever the nation might gain. To the Catholics, I thought it unnecessary to address myself, because, that as no change could make their political situation worse, I reckoned upon their support to a certainty; besides, they had already begun to manifest a strong sense of their wrongs and oppressions, and finally I well knew that, however it might be disguised or suppressed, there existed in the breast of every Irish Catholic an inextirpable abhorrence of the English name and power".

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Forenaught House

description extracted from the Internet

Forenaughts House, situated in the district of Naas, is an early to mid-eighteenth century house.

It was home to the Wolfe family, among whose members was Theobald Wolfe, godfather to Ireland’s infamous Theobald Wolfe Tone.

Beautifully decorated inside, the early nineteenth century drawing room is believed to have been added to the house by Rev. Richard Wolfe for his wife Lady Charlotte Hely-Hutchinson, a sister of the second Earl of Donoughmore. Today, Forenaughts House is a studfarm.


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Phil Ulf of Limerick

There is a reference in Burke's peerage to a Phil Ulf of Limerick who went off with deBurgho to fight the Scots for the King in 1303


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copyright by Data Tree Publishing
author: Kate Press

Last Updated on 1 April 2004