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Aughrim, a village on the
main Galway - Dublin road near Ballinasloe; the name means
'the horse's back', from the shape of one of the low ridges
that are a feature of the local landscape.
Aughrim's moment in history was on the 12th July 1691.
The war of William and James had turned in favour of William
at the Battle of the Boyne (1690) but the Jacobites were
still a force to be reckoned with. Under the command of St.
Ruth, a French commander, they prepared a strong position on
the higher ground, forcing the enemy to attack across the
exposed ground below. Things were favouring the Jacobites
until, during the bombardment, a chance ball struck St.
Ruth; he died of his wounds in a nearby ring fort (the one
nearest the road). His troops lost their heart and retreated
to the west; the retreat was guarded by the cavalry under
one of the heroes of Irish history, Patrick Sarsfield, Earl
of Lucan. Eventually they made their ways via Woodford, to
Limerick, where they withstood two sieges before negotiating
an honourable surrender with William, which is known as the
Treaty of Limerick. The troops were given the option of
going home or emigrating en masse to join the French army;
very many, including Sarsfield, did so, thus providing the
French forces with a ready-made Irish Brigade. These
emigrant soldiers are known in Irish history as 'The Wild
Geese' and are partly responsible for the very many surnames
of Irish origin that are common to-day in France, often in
the drinks trade!
The Irish Brigade got its belated revenge at the Battle of
Fontenoy (1745) where the Brigade had its greatest victory.
(A tradition of Irish soldiers joining European armies
continued for many years, the principal beneficiaries
besides the French being the Austrians and the Spanish.) The
Irish Brigade remained a feature of the French forces for
some time; its numbers maintained by a flow of new recruits
from Ireland. Sarsfield was killed in action at the Battle
of London by, coincidently, being struck, like St. Ruth, by
cannon fire. A large cross of the Celtic type was erected to
mark the site of the Battle, and an interpretive centre has
recently been opened. Aughrim, like the Boyne, was a
significant battle in European, not just Irish, terms, and
helped to turn the course of European history. There is an
account of the engagement in The Irish at War, Gerald Hayes
- McCoy , 1964.
Aughrim's in history is assured as it was here that the
Battle of Aughrim during the Williamite war in Ireland was
fought on 12 July 1691.
The battle of Aughrim Interpretative Centre tells the
story of the deadly battle fought at Aughrim. The Battle of
Aughrim Centre is an ideal stop-off on a journey between
Dublin and Galway and is located very close to the N6. The
centre lies between Ballinasloe and Loughrea in County
Following England's Glorious Revolution in 1688, the deposed
King James II fled to france to seek refuge with the Sun
King, King Louis XIV. Together the Catholic Kings planned to
regain the English throne for James by ousting his successor
and ironically, his son-in-law, William of Orange.
You can now now re-live the day that changed the course of
Irish and European history at the Battle of Aughrim
Interpretative Centre, situated in Aughrim village on the
main Galway-Dublin road, the N6. Move back in time and place
to that fateful day in 1691 through an audio-visual show
based on the true and moving account of Captain Walter
Dalton who fought at the Battle of Aughrim.
In 1689 this War of the Two Kings, or Cogadh an Da Ri moved
to Ireland when James landed in Kinsale, County Cork. Some of
the most epic events in Irish history occurred during this
era - besieged cities of Derry; Athlone and Limerick;
Ireland's largest naval battle, the Battle of Bantry Bay;
the Battle of the Boyne remembered on the "Glorious
Twelfth"; a daring raid at Ballyneety; the broken Treaty of
Limerick and the Flight of the Wild Geese. Yet little is
remembered about the bloodiest battle in Irish history
fought in a small Connaught village during the closing
stages of the War, this was the battle of Aughrim.
By nightfall, some 9,000 soldiers lay slain on the fields of
Aughrim. Amongst the casualties were St. Ruth, the proud
French officer, who was killed by chainshot as he led his
troops to repulse the final Williamite assault of the
battle. Following his death, the battle took its decisive
turn and resulted in an overwhelming Williamite victory. The
Jacobite resistance to Williamite rule was broken following
their shattering defeat at Aughrim and their remaining
leaders, including Patrick Sarsfield, agreed to the terms of
the Treaty of Limerick.