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30 Jul 2014

Tourism Ireland unveils unknown Irish family connections of H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco

Princess Charlene’s Irish ancestors can be traced back to 16th-century Dublin

Tourism Ireland has unveiled previously unknown Irish family connections of H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco. Research commissioned by Tourism Ireland and carried out by genealogy researchers Eneclann has revealed that Princess Charlene’s ancestors can be traced back to the 1520s and a prominent Dublin family called the Fagans. 

Yesterday (29 July), Princess Charlene was presented with a Certificate of Irish Heritage by HE Rory Montgomery, Irish Ambassador to France, in the Prince’s Palace in Monaco, with her husband, Prince Albert, also in attendance. The Certificate is an official recognition by the Irish Government of those who are proud of their Irish ancestry and heritage.

While the Irish connections of Prince Albert, and his mother Princess Grace, are well documented, this latest research shows that Princess Charlene descends on her paternal line from the Fagans of Feltrim, one of the most successful gentlemen-merchant families in Dublin in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Fagans made a number of enduring contributions to the development of Dublin, which are still visible in the city today. In 1592, Richard and Christopher Fagan, the Princess’s great (x 12) grandfathers, were key figures in the foundation of Trinity College; and in the 1660s, Christopher Fagan, the Princess’s great (x 9) grandfather, sold the manor of Phoenix to the Duke of Ormond to create a royal deer park – which we know today as the Phoenix Park. 

At the end of the 17th century, the Fagan family moved to Killarney, where they continued to prosper in international commerce, trading with the East Indies and colonial America; they had homes in both Kerry and Cork. The last of the Princess’s direct ancestors born in Ireland was her great (x 4) grandfather, Christopher Sullivan Fagan, who was baptised in St Mary’s, Shandon, in Cork in 1781. 

Tourism Ireland is sharing the good news on its international website, Ireland.com. The story is also being shared with Tourism Ireland’s Facebook fans (about 2.25 million fans worldwide) and Twitter followers (131,000+). Finola O’Mahony, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Europe, said: “We are delighted to announce the Irish connections of H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco. We hope that the princely couple will consider a visit to Ireland in the near future, to see for themselves the places associated with both of their family histories. With an estimated 70 million people across the world claiming links or affiliations with the island of Ireland, Tourism Ireland is actively reaching out to the Diaspora. We are inviting them to visit Ireland, to trace their ancestry and learn more about their Irish roots and then explore the places their ancestors came from.” 

Notes To Editors

  • Princess Charlene’s Irish ancestry can be traced through her paternal grandmother back sixteen generations to the 1520s:
  • H.S.H. Princess Charlene descends on her paternal line from the Fagans of Feltrim, one of the most successful gentlemen-merchant families in Dublin in the 16th century. They became immensely wealthy through international commerce and re-invested their profits in lands close to the capital. 
  • The Fagans were major donors to the restoration of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, after the nave of the cathedral collapsed in 1562. 
  • In 1592, the Princess’ great (x 12) grandfathers, brothers Christopher and Richard Fagan, were key figures in the foundation of Trinity College Dublin.
  • Christopher and Richard Fagan were both mayors of Dublin – in 1573 and 1587 respectively.
  • By the early 1600s, the Fagans controlled more than 5,000 acres in Co Dublin, including Bulloch Harbour in Dalkey. Bulloch Castle was the second seat of the Fagans of Feltrim between the 1590s and the 1690s.
  • In the 1660s, Christopher Fagan, Princess Charlene’s great (x 9) grandfather, sold the manor of Phoenix to the Duke of Ormond, to create a royal deer park – which we know today as the Phoenix Park.
  • In the 1690s, the same Christopher Fagan settled in Killarney. Between 1695 and 1772, successive generations of the Fagan family married into old gentry and merchant families in counties Kerry and Cork, including the FitzMaurice, Trant and Gould families.
  • In 1772, John Fagan married Elizabeth Hickson – these were the Princess’s great (x 5) grandparents. They had a large family – six boys and five girls that survived to adulthood. Remarkably, all six sons joined the East India Company. Of the five surviving daughters, three married officers in the East India Company, a fourth married a London merchant, and the fifth entered the Ursuline convent in Cork.
  • The last of the Princess’s direct ancestors born in Ireland was her great (x 4) grandfather, Christopher Sullivan Fagan, who was born in 1781 and baptised in St Mary’s in Shandon, in Cork.

Organisational Notes
  • Tourism Ireland has a bespoke Facebook page to assist those researching their Irish roots; it has almost 250,000 fans across the world. www.facebook.com/IrelandFamilyHistory
  • Eneclann is Ireland’s premier genealogical and historical research agency. Established in 1998 as a Trinity College Dublin campus company, the company offers research services covering all of Ireland. www.eneclann.ie