Heritage Week 2017 Sarsfield’s Rock – Dr Liam Irwin

Dr.Liam Irwin delivered a very lively and entertaining lecture from the summit of Sarsfield’s Rock. This was part of Emly Historical Society’s programme for Heritage Week 2017. Dr. Irwin’s lecture not only dealt with Sarsfield’s career as a Jacobite soldier but gave us details of his family background and other events in his early life including being wounded at duelling on at least two occasions. He was also involved with the abduction of two young ladies one with a view to marriage but she rebuffed him. He went on to marry Lady Honor de Burgo who was then only fifteen years of age.

Sarsfield first came to prominence at the Battle of Sedgemore where he showed his military skill and was wounded. He remained loyal to James when he was expelled and replaced by William of Orange. He travelled to France with James and returned with him to Kinsale as a brigadier in command of a cavalry regiment. He was active organising the Jacobite army.

Sarsfield hadn’t a key role at the Battle of the Boyne but it was left to him to pick up the pieces, calm down everybody and retreat to limerick. Sarsfield Ride and the interception of the siege train at Ballyneety was very dramatic and Galloping Hogan, the raparee had a key role. Only two of the eight guns were permanently disabled but the destruction of the ammunition gave the advantage to theJacobites at Limerick. Sarsfield himself was not involved defending the city as he was a calvary commander and it was no place for horses.

Sarsfield was hampered as the Jacobite army had very poor leaders James fled to France, Tyrconnel was always prepared to surrender and settle and San Ruth was a hopeless tactician whose strategy of an open field battle resulted in a terrible massacre at Aughrim. Yet he fought on bravely, defended Limerick a second time , negotiated the treaty, succeeded in taking his army, the Wild Geese to France. He fought with distinction at Flanders but was mortally wounded at Landen 1693. We thank Dr.Irwin for a very interesting lecture on this most romantic personality in Irish history.

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