After their defeat at The Battle of The Boyne, Patrick Sarsfield and his followers left Ireland. In the hope and belief that this would be a temporary strategic exile, they took the name The Wild Geese; birds that always return to their place of birth.
This parting, however, proved to be permanent.
But this story lives on.
|The Battle of The Boyne
The Legend of The Wild Geese echoes through the ages. Their influence in France has been recently documented at the Musee de l’Armee in Paris.
In The Irish and France: Three Centuries of Military Relations, the Irish-Franco relationship is explored, starting with Patrick Sarsfield and The Wild Geese right up the present day. The Irish contribution in France has seen many Irish heroes emerge and the stories in the exhibition are extremely moving.
Among them is the story of the Irish Ambulance Corps, which raised money and collected equipment and medical supplies to France, when the country was at war with Prussia in 1870.
The Irish Ambulance Corps was borne out of solidarity between Ireland and France, which had started back in 1691. It was established in Dublin by Patrick James Smyth, and often followed the French army on the battlefield, offering treatment to wounded soldiers.
The French Command described The Irish Ambulance Corps:
‘Men of the Irish Ambulance Corps, you have undertaken a heavy task, but one which, if worthily performed, will gain for you the gratification of both of your own country and of France. You go in this hour of her dire distress to France, to assist in the care and relief of her wounded soldiers. You go to prove the sympathy which Ireland feels for France… You will be in the service of France, as your corps will be subject, as an ambulance corps, to the orders of the French government. Merit the respect of the French, and the Praise of your own countrymen, by your courage, your patience, your sobriety, your humanity, your faithfulness. Think that the loving eyes of Ireland are upon her sons representing her abroad in this holy and noble work… your duties will be arduous and dangerous, but you will face all those difficulties nobly, remembering that they are endured for France and Ireland!’
Inspired by this exhibition, we’re putting together a new video that explores how The Wild Geese came to settle in France and will part of our video series Where The Wild Geese Are Today.