A dramatic recreation of one of the most significant siege battles in Irish history will take place as part of major new Gathering event planned for Ireland’s ‘Treaty City’ this August.
The organisers of “Sarsfield’s Day” in Limerick on August 10th say the event will not only commemorate the successful defence of Limerick City from the invading William of Orange but will also celebrate a forgotten Irish hero in Patrick Sarsfield.
The event will feature 100 fully costumed Jacobean horsemen riding through the streets of Limerick for the first time in over 320 years, in a festival pageant commemorating Sarsfield’s historical ride to Ballyneety in August 1690 to intercept and blow up the Williamite munitions train. The act of sabotage ultimately ensured a successful defence of the walled city of Limerick and led to the Treaty of Limerick in 1691.
The day will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display over the River Shannon in front of King Johns Castle, to re-enact the massive explosion created at Ballyneety, described as the loudest explosion ever recorded on the island of Ireland.
“Sarsfield’s Day” is being organised by Rapparee Productions, which is hoping to expand the August’s pageant into an even larger event in 2014 when Limerick becomes Ireland's first National City of Culture.
“Sarsfield’s Day is primarily aimed at reminding the people of Limerick and Ireland of a largely forgotten figure in Irish history whose achievements as a military commander and patriot are often overlooked,” explained Sean McNamara of Rapparee Productions.
He continued: “Against all the odds, Patrick Sarsfield successfully prevented William of Orange from capturing Limerick and with his French allies inflicted over 5,000 Williamite casualties, five times greater than those suffered by William's army at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The fact that he was able to save the City and bring William of Orange to the negotiating table, or the ‘Treaty Stone’ in Limerick’s case, is symbolic of all that is courageous, honourable and patriotic among the Irish. We want to commemorate this milestone moment in Limerick and Irish history this coming August.”
Amongst the other figures that will feature as part of Sarsfield’s Day is French Major General and Governor of Limerick Marquis De Boisseleau, whose experience helped save Limerick from destruction by the Williamite army. De Boisseleau would later go on to distinguish himself in many battles in France before being appointed Governor of Charleroi and promoted to the rank of “Marechal De Camp” in 1696.
Mr. McNamara today returned from a visit to Rhodon in France where he laid a wreath at the recently discovered final resting place of the Marquis de Boisseleau.
He explained: “After many months of research, I recently located the burial place of Boisseleau and made a trip to France to commemorate this forgotten hero of Limerick in 1690. Together with the Mayor of Rhodon, Claude Peschard, I laid a wreath on Boisseleau’s grave on behalf of the people of Limerick, with a letter of appreciation from the Mayor of Limerick, as the first Irishman ever to do so in over 300 years. Boisseleau’s leadership during the Siege of Limerick was an act of heroism that was crucial to the defence of the city and eventually led to the signing of the Treaty of Limerick. He was in my mind the saviour of Limerick and it was an honour to commemorate his bravery, at his graveside”.
Another local figure featured in next month’s Gathering event is Michael “Galloping” Hogan who famously helped Sarsfield, along with 500 horsemen, to blow up the Williamite Siege Train at Ballyneety. After the Siege ended, Hogan became a General in Louis XIV’s Army before joining the Portuguese Army in 1706. He went on to lead them against the Spanish in 1712 at the Battle of “Campus Maior”. Hogan, who was reputedly born in the East Limerick village of Doon, had the reputation of being one of the greatest horsemen in Europe. His descendants can still be found in Portugal, where he was known as “Miguel” Hogan.
According to Mr. McNamara: “We would like to thank Fáilte Ireland and the Gathering Limerick Steering Group for their valuable support in organising this event. We hope Sarsfield’s Day, with the help of the people of Limerick at home and abroad, will become an annual event that we can be proud of.”
For more visit www.sarsfieldsday.com.