Feile: West Belfast Festival…The Wild Geese

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).

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11 Responses to Feile: West Belfast Festival…The Wild Geese

  1. Political Tourist says:

    I give in.
    What’s a “modern” Jacobite?

    • There are some people who believe that the heirs of “King James II” are the legitimate monarchs of England, Scotland and ….Ireland.
      And also the British Dominion of North America (Canada and USA).
      The current heir is known as the Duke in (sic) Bavaria…and King Francis to (modern) Jacobites. In fairness to Frank, he is a harmless old duffer who is actually quite charitable especially to charities in Eastern Europe.
      The Bavarian “Royal Family” actually had a good World War Two….opposed Hitler and spent some time in a Nazi Concentration Camp before being rescued by the Americans.
      They also had a good WOrld War One. “Queen Mary” hated the English.
      The Stuarts downfall was in part that they believed in the Divine Right of Kings. And their followers believe that Republicans are in fact Satanic as Lucifer believed he was as good as GOD.
      In the Jacobite world, Franky in Bavaria (ha Frankie goes to Holyrood) will reclaim his three kingdoms. Democracy will be abolished and we will all become subjects of King Francis….to be fair to Francis, being King of England, S otland and Ireland is not something he actually wants.
      Because his loyal subjects are so obviously insane, he never actually speaks on the topic. His loyal subjects would see this as his saintly discretion.
      modern Jacobites are legitimists (sic) who want to restore the Kingdom of France and various European nations such as Portugal…Brazil will be abolished and come back under the control of Portugal….likewise all other Empires will be restored.
      As you can guess, there is a strain of Racism running thru Legitimism.

      All of course is supplemented by overlooking the faults of the Sturats….who were bastards, not least Bonnie Prince Charlie.
      In the ’45, England never rose…and notwithstanding that there were honourable exceptions like the Manchester Regiment, the heavy lifting in the 1745 Rebellion was done by Scottish Highlanders and Wild Geese regiments.
      Somehow in the twisted world of the Jacobites the decision to return to Scotland (made at Derby) was an act of betrayal by the Scots.
      Little attention is given to the sacrifices after 1746.

      To be frank, I have little time for the tweedy, Daily Telegraph reading bores sending loyal greetings to Frank in Bavaria and a several tumbrils full of extremely minor “royals” all over Europe.
      What I am interested in…is Jacobite History, especially in Ireland and the timeline of fighting for Gaelic chieftains and taking up the Stuart cause against Cromwell and William of Orange…and the European theatres in 18th century.
      And indeed the change from Jacobite (and the Stuarts abandoning Ireland and Scotland) and Ireland adopting the Republican cause in late 1700s.
      For those of us who are interested in Jacobite history…the “modern” Jacobite is a buffoon who gets in the way. Athe same might be said to some extent of “shortbread tin” nationalism.

      Luckily modern Jacobitism is a craziness confined to the weirder parts of the Internet.

  2. croiteir says:

    This is also a passion of mine – indeed one of my personal regrets and causes for self flagellation, (intellectual only mind), is my lack of knowledge of Gaelic which means the Aisling poetry is out of reach for me. The Jacobites are indeed a fringe element however it is amusing to tell unionists that the usurper queen Elizabeth and all descendants of Sophia are not the real monarchy is often too much to resist, for Wittelsbach aye.

    There is an emotional attachment to the men who died in the war of the three kingdoms. I always watch closely to see if McGuinness has a glass of water in front of him when he toasts the usurper at their state din dins as I would in that position, he continuously lets the side down on that one.

    A pity St Ruth lost his head at Aughrim, and the clans were not better lead at Culloden, so I suppose I will just have to sit with my Drambuie on winter nights as the wind howls outside the cabin, (well semi detached actually), humming Mo Gille Mear consoling myself with what might of been, will ye no come back again?

    It could all have been so different. Would Wee Alex would have his independent Scotland and Griffith his Ireland with a personal union with the descendants of James the Shit. Would it have split further?

    And there again we could have been spared the horribleness of having to watch Gullivers Travels on TV with the sprogs.

    Well here is to the wee man in the velvet coat.

  3. croiteir says:

    Another point is. You know the way that all the poppy brigade push out the nonsense that the November charade is about Irishmen who died in foreign wars too, any chance of them remembering the likes of Admiral Brown, Marshall DeLacy, Myles O’Reilly, Admiral Brown, the men of Fontenoy, and so on. No – didn’t think so.

    • Well the National Commemoration for people who died in foreign wars takes in UN, Admiral Brown, los San Partricios (my particular favourites), Myles Keogh, Meaghers Irish Brigade Union and Cobbes Georgian Confederates.
      And of course the rest including Dublin Fusiliers (for whom I have no regard at all)

  4. Political Tourist says:

    Wasn’t there one of the original 1970/71 West Belfast “Provos” who ended promoting the idea an Irish monarchy.
    Don’t know if he’s still around.

  5. dedeideoprofundis says:

    Tried Mr G but I cant find any connection between Cobbs Confederates and Ireland. I could find that Myles Keogh fought for the Pope and was buried by a Presbyterian clergyman, fascinating.

    • I am in a hotel in Derry at the minute so a lot of info not in front of me.
      Cobbes was a Brigade in Laws (?) Division and fought more or less intact right thru the Civil War. It comprised Georgian regiments…not at this point sure of the names but recruited from counties in East Georgia.
      They fought in Fredericksburg which was the place where they came directly into conflict with Meaghers Union Irish Brigade.
      Its notorious for having Fenians directly facing off against each other.
      There is a point where History has to be uncoupled from the Lore.
      Its undoubtedly true that they fought each other at Maryes (sic) Heights over land that Captain Marye had used to grow shipments of corn to be sent to Ireland in the Famine Years.
      Its undoubtedly true that the (northern) Irish Brigade got closer to the Confederate lines…a wall …than any other Union regiment.
      Undoubtedly true that the heroism was actually cheered in Confederate lines and that Robert E Lee specifically mentioned it.
      It is undoubtedly true that a Confederate corporal (Sullivan) was given safe passage thru the lines to return a a flag that was lost on the field. Whether he presented it directly to Magher is conjecture.
      I have seen prints depicting this but the flag in the print (usually the iconic green flag) was possibly in New York for repair at the time of Fredericksburg.

      I think its certainly true that the aacrifice of the Irish Brigades did earn the Irish a degree of respect that they did not have in pre war years.
      But certainly by Gettysburg July 1863 Meaghers Brigade was a shadow of its former self…because of Antietam and Fredericksburg.
      If you go into YouTube and look up “Gods and Generals…Irish Brigade” you will see a fictional depiction of Fredericksburg and Cobbes Brigade are given some anti British dialogue and their flags (shamrock) are shown.
      The history of Confederate Irish regiments is lesser known….but John Mitchel actively recruited for the Confederates and two (?) sons were killed. The Louisiana Tigers were “Irish wharf rats” from New Orleans and other regiments in Tennessee for example are described as “Irish” but it was often the case that they were officered by Protestants as Irish catholics had a hard time integrating in some.
      The actual story of the Irish-American Church ( Archbishop Hughes in New York) and race and slavery is an interesting one.
      Look up the assassination of Abraham Lincoln….there was a Catholic dimension there.
      Also on YouTube look up a song called “Kellys Irish Brigade Confederate”

  6. croiteir says:

    Dagger John was a boyo, threatened that the Irish would leave New York like Moscow, (it had just suffered the Great Fire at the time), if a Catholic Church was touched in New York, (the No-Nothings had been at their work at the time and were threatening this), as well as getting the slum Irish educated to get them out of despair and misery, the sort of bishop we needed here instead of that wring hand Daly.

  7. croiteir says:

    Gen Phil Sheridan, Patrick Cleburne, Gen Michael Corcoran, Meagher, 35th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Colonel Joseph Kelly, and he first casualty in the American civil war was Irish, Private Daniel Hough from Tipp

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