Siege and Violated Treaty of Limerick

But the great episode in the history of Limerick took place during the wars of William and James, when the events occurred which fastened on it the name of the "City of the Violated Treaty." After the fall of Athlone and Galway, Tryconnell, the Lord Lieutenant, still held Limerick as the last stronghold that King James possessed, the city having been previously unsuccessfully assaulted by the English under William at the head of about twenty-six thousand men in 1690. Lauzun, the French general, said "it could be taken with roasted apples," and leaving it to its fate, went to Galway and embarked for France. William's army was wanting in artillery, and he awaited the arrival of a heavy siege-train from Dublin. The convoy was arrested by Sarsfield, who started at night with six hundred horsemen on the Clare side and crossed the Shannon at Killaloe. The next night he fell on them and took possession of the train. He filled the cannon with powder, buried their mouths in the earth, and, firing the whole, utterly destroyed them. More cannon arrived from Waterford, and William pressed forward the siege. On the 27th of August, a breach having been effected, a terrific assault was made, lasting four hours, in which the women of Limerick were conspicuous in the defence; the besiegers were repulsed, losing about two thousand men. In consequence of the swampy nature of the ground and the advanced season, William raised the siege. A fit of apoplexy carried off Tyrconnell, when the government, both civil and military, fell into the hands of D'Usson and Sarsfield. Ginkell, the commander of the English army, endeavored to take the town by an attack on the fort which overlooked and protected the Thomond Bridge. This attack is described in graphic and spirited language by Lord Macaulay, and I cannot do better than give the account of it in his own words:

"In a short time the fort was stormed. The soldiers who had garrisoned it fled in confusion to the city. The Town Major, a French officer, who commanded at the Thomond Gate, afraid that the pursuers would enter with the fugitives, ordered that part of the bridge which was nearest to the city to be drawn up. Many of the Irish went headlong into the stream and perished there. Others cried for quarter, and held up their handkerchiefs in token of submission. But the conquerors were mad with rage; their cruelty could not be immediately restrained, and no prisoners were made till the heads of corpses rose above the parapet. The garrison of the fort had consisted of about eight hundred men; of these only one hundred and twenty escaped into Limerick."

The result of this capture was the fall of James's power in Ireland and the signing of the famous treaty on the stone near the bridge on October 3, 1691, the ninth article of which provided that the Roman Catholics should enjoy the same privileges of their religion as they enjoyed in the reign of Charles II., and that William and Mary would endeavor to insure them immunity from disturbance on account of their religion. This article, however, was never carried into effect, although through no fault of William's. Large numbers of the Irish soldiers took service under France, and formed the "Irish Brigade," famous in after years in continental wars. Sarsfield was killed at the battle of Landen (1693), and it has been estimated that in the next half century four hundred and fifty thousand Irishmen died in the French service. For seventy years after the siege, the city was maintained as a fortress, and its ramparts and gates kept in repair and guarded. In 1760 it was abandoned as such, its defences dismantled, and the city, thus freed, rapidly extended its boundaries. It has since, however, been a station for large detachments of troops, and is at the present day one of the most bustling and pleasant garrison towns.

Read "On an Irish Jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara" at your leisure

On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara

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Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.

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