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Report on the Pedigree, Titles and Arms of Thomas
Shannon Foran, Styled Duc de Saint Bar
Among the leading supporters of Terence MacCarthy, formerly known as 'The MacCarthy Mór, Prince of Desmond', was a certain Thomas Shannon Foran, styled 'Baron Foran, Duc de Saint Bar', 'Lord of Clonmeallane', and holder of the position of 'Referendary General' in MacCarthy's bogus Niadh Nask Order. Foran, the writer has been informed, was born in Connecticut in or about 1925, the son of John K Foran and Valerie Shannon. A long-time resident of Neuilly-sur-Seine in France, Foran claimed to be of 'an ancient Irish Family of the Kingdom of Munster', with descent from a King of Limerick who died in 350, and from a St Forannan who died in 581. Another alleged ancestor was Job Foran, an Admiral of the French Fleet who was created a Baron by Louis XIV in 1688. The ducal title of Saint Bar was purportedly conferred on yet another ancestor in 1799 by the King of Naples and the Two Sicilies. The territory of Saint Bar was said to be located in what was later to becomeYugoslavia, whose monarch King Peter allegedly confirmed Foran in his dukedom in 1941, in recognition of Foran's assistance to his family while on military service in the country.
Patent of Peter II, King of Yugoslavia, to Thomas Shannon Foran, dated 1941
Edward MacLysaght, who usually makes reference to notable bearers of a surname, does not mention a French branch of the Foran family, or any royal or saintly connection, stating merely that the name in Gaelic is Ó Fuaráin, and that it is found principally in Counties Limerick and Waterford (More Irish Families, page 102). French genealogists have put Thomas Shannon Foran's claims to the test and found them to be severely wanting. Thus one unsigned report dated July 1993 notes that while there was indeed a seventeenth-century naval figure named Job Forant, there is no evidence to connect him with Foran's family ('Etude des Titres Nobiliaires: Baron de Louis XIV, Duc de Saint Bar'). The respected heraldist and genealogist Baron Hervé Pinoteau demonstrated that the Forant family was originally Protestant and appears to have become extinct in the male line in the mid-eighteenth century ('La Veritable Histoire des Marins Forant'). There is no evidence that Job Foran was created Baron, and it appears that Foran's baronial title is one he obtained in the Republic of San Marino in 1965. Similarly, the claims concerning the granting of the 'Duc de Saint Bar' title in 1799 cannot be verified, and the 1941 patent above appears to be some sort of backdated concoction. In any case, 'Saint Bar' should rightly be 'Stari Bar', a ruined town in present-day Montenegro sometimes abbreviated to 'S Bar', and the prefix means 'old' not 'saint' (http://mediateka.f.bg.ac.yu/files/S_Curcic/Stari_Bar/SBframe.htm). It has also been pointed out that Foran could not have been on military service in Yugoslavia in 1941, as he did not enlist in the United States Army until some years later. Indeed he was aged only about 16 in the year he allegedly received the above patent of nobility, which in any case theYugoslav monarch did not have power to issue. As the first cited report concludes, 'toutes les Notices de Thomas Foran sont fantaisistes et sans fondement sérieux'.
Given that there were serious questions in circulation concerning Foran's noble pretensions, one would have expected the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland to have declined to countenance them. Unfortunately, as it had done in the case of MacCarthy and so many other bogus and questionable claimants, the Office embraced Foran's fantasies. Thus as late as 11 November 1994, Chief Herald Donal Begley issued an official patent confirming arms to Thomas Shannon Foran, 'Baron Foran, Duke of Saint Bar' (Volume X, folio 76, citing a Certificate of the Spanish Cronista Rey de Armas and a 1978 exemplification by Chief Herald Gerard Slevin). Foran is said to have introduced Terence MacCarthy and his associate Andrew Davison to noble society in Europe, and to have facilitated their acquiring membership of the Constantinian Order of St George. All three gentlemen of course were able to produce official documents from the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland to validate their spurious claims, demonstrating the level of corruption to which that department had sunk. Thomas Shannon Foran died on 15 October 2005 in France, and although the Office of the Chief Herald has been well aware for some time of the falsity of his pedigree and title, his patent of arms remains in place.
Sean Murphy MA
Centre for Irish Genealogical and Historical Studies
30 September 2001, amended 25 October 2005