Sunday, 13 November 2011

Siege of Limerick 1690

Siege of Limerick

The retreating Irish army now held their main forces at Limerick and Athlone close to the river Shannon.  General Douglas attacked Athlone but failed to take it so he and his men joined forces once again with William who was now at Limerick.  Limerick was a poorly guarded city but William lacked the necessary artillery.

A train was however loaded with cannons and ammunition and was on its way to Limerick from Dublin.  Sarsfield on hearing of this was determined to intercept this train and in the dark of night he rode north to Ballyneety Castle.  Here he found the promised convoy asleep and over ran them and took control of the train.  He then proceeded to blow the entire train to bits to prevent the cannons being used against his men.  Somehow Sarsfield and his men avoided interception and he returned to his troops.

William then sent to Waterford for cannons and on the 27th August 1690 stormed the city of Limerick.  Here William met with heavy resistance and lost over 2,000 men.  Three weeks of fierce fighting continued until finally William stooped the siege and returned to England leaving a General de Ginkel in charge.  On the last day of August this general marched away from the city unable to take it.  In September the Williamite general George Churchill took Cork
Athlone and Aughrim

Tirconnell in the mean time had returned to France and now returned in January 1691 with money and provisions.  It wasn’t until May that a French fleet arrived with a general St Ruth taking command of the Irish army.  They fought a battle at Athlone and during this time William offered terms to Tirconnell who rejected them thinking this was a trick.

The Irish and St Ruth lost Athlone and then fell back to Aughrim where they once again made their stand.  St Ruth’s head was removed by a cannon ball and many of the Irish army lost their lives.  The Irish lost that battle and then Galway and Sigo gave way on friendly terms and were allowed to march to Limerick.

Triconnell died of apoplexy in Limerick and Sarsfield took the command.  Ginkel once again attacked Limerick and met with great resistance.  After some fighting a period of truce was agreed and as Ginkel was anxious to end the war and Sarsfield with little hope of assistance and the the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691.  Under this treaty, religious freedom and the rights of the native Irish people were to be returned if Sarsfield would disband his army.  This was agreed and many of his army went off to fight in armies throughout Europe.

A French fleet did arrive of a substantive size with 3,000 soldiers, arms and ammunition.  Sarsfield however honoured the treaty and would not receive the arriving French army.  In the years after this many men left to fight in France and other parts of Europe in what became known as the Irish Brigade.

King William now became the King of England and Ireland and was in fact kindly disposed towards the Irish.  He granted many pardons and restored many estates to their original owners.  He also made his general Ginkel the Earl of Athlone and granted land to many of his own people.

Clearly a significant and historical moment The Battle of The Boyne in 1690 still has repercussions in Northern Ireland today and would hundreds of years later become more apparent in the Orange marches in Northern Ireland.

I would now recommend reading about a hugely significant event in Irish history known as the Irish History Irish Rebellion 1641