Always referred to as simply Colonel Forster, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Rowland Forster was constantly by Sisi’s side when she came to Ireland. He accompanied Empress Elisabeth whilst hunting and represented the Viceroy at official welcomes and departures from the island.
Colonel Forster was Master of the Horse, the fourth most-important official in the Viceroy’s (Lord Lieutenant) household. He served many Viceroys including Earl Spencer and the Duke of Marlborough.
Forster joined the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards and served with distinction in the Crimean War from October 1854 to July 1855. He was present at the battles of Balaclava and Inkerman and at the siege of Sebastapol. Colonel Forster was made Lieutenant Colonel in 1865 and effectively retired from the army in 1865.
In Dublin he took up the post of Master of the Horse five years before Empress Elisabeth went to Ireland and he served in the post for more than 25 years. Colonel Forster also became Chief Ranger of the Curragh, the home of Irish horse racing.
Forster served on Balrothery District Council. He was a supporter of the Liberals but did not agree with Gladstone on Home Rule for Ireland. In 1899 Colonel Forster told the council that if he could believe that Home Rule would not mean civil war he would gladly support it. The Nationalists dominated the council’s membership and in 1908 Colonel Forster was attacked for donating £15 to the cause of unionism.
He was buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery in South Dublin.
Picture: Irish Viceroy’s House where Colonel Forster worked. Now Irish President’s House. By William Murphy – Flickr: Phoenix Park – Áras an Uachtaráin, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15764995