The Legend of 1691

During 2010 The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Collection has been making a name for itself, receiving many awards and accolades from around the world.

At WSWA, the Single Malt received the coveted Double Gold Medal and later was crowned ‘Best Irish Whiskey’ at the event.

But behind this award winning collection is a very significant part of Irish history. In 1691, Patrick Sarsfield’s army was defeated at the decisive Battle of The Boyne. From this point on, his attempts to oust the English and place James II on the throne were doomed. 

There followed the Treaty of Limerick where Sarsfield’s army was given a stark choice. Those that chose to live under English rule filed one way, others like Sarsfield and his followers turned the other way, to board French ships to take them to France. They took the name ‘The Wild Geese’ in the hope and belief that this would be a temporary strategic exile in Europe. 

The parting, however, proved permanent. Like the vanquished everywhere over the centuries, they faced a bleak future at home. Stripped of their authority and property, many of them found life in Ireland intolerable.

Irish aristocrats together with soldiers and dependents fled war and want to face an uncertain future abroad

European courts welcomed the aristocracy and military where they quickly rose to prominence and became hugely successful. Others armed only with their wits, had to fend for themselves. 

Overtime the migrants formed communities, often intermarrying and became a vital force in their host societies. However, they never forgot their homeland and dreamt of one day returning to Ireland.

Throughout time and to this day, migrants the world over have to call on all their resources to survive and prosper in alien environments. 

The Wild Geese example indicates that far from being an exceptional, temporary phenomenon, migration is actually a permanent part of the human condition.