One of the most interesting (for me) discussions during An Feile will be a lecture on The Wild Geese….the Irish regiments who fought in European armies before and after the Treaty of Limerick 1692.
There was along established tradition of Irish men going to France and Spain but the defeat of the Jacobites in 1692 was a catalyst. Certainly this is a subject which has interested me for nearly five decades. I have been at every Jacobite site in Ireland, enjoyed the friendship of Jacobite historians and those interested in the folklore….music etc.
The Wild Geese period of course is the Jacobite period. Its hard to imagine a worse cause than Jacobitism…the Stuarts were an unlovely lot. James II was a coward who deserted at least two of his “Kingdoms” and Bonnie Prince Charles was a drunk and serial abuser of women.
Yet people of more humble origins were prepared to fight and die for these bastards. Why? Thats the legitimate question posed in the lecture. Certainly after 1692, few people who left Ireland for France, would have had any ambition other than killing English men. Few would have given a tinkers curse about the Jacobites and their “legitimate” claims.
And yet….the story of six infantry regiments, Dillon, Clare, Roth, Bulkeley, Berwick and Lally….and the cavalry regiment Fitzjames Horse (no relation) is a fascinating one.
Of course there never was a Jacobite Restoration. Almost entirely due to the inaction of English Jacobites….who were always willing to do the toasting to the King over the Watter (sic) and leave the fighting to the Irish and the Scots.
Of course Prince Charlie died in the lost world of alcohol and self pity…blaming the real nobility of Scottish peasants for his fate. A total and absolute bastard to the end.
There are…unfortunately….”modern” Jacobites. Will they turn up at tne lecture…..St Marys College, Falls Road, Belast (Noon…5th August).