Friday, February 19, 2016

Whiskey in the Jar-oh! Part 3

Limerick - Jacobite stronghold in 1690 and goal of the Williamites
 
The ‘Lizzy’ connection

Readers of a certain age will not have failed to notice that language of the era has appeared in the music of modern Irish legends Thin Lizzy. Although not to my knowledge (as a fan since aged 13) is Hogan mentioned directly in their music, they did record ‘Wild One’ which is dedicated to the Wild Geese, Soldier of Fortune, Emerald, Warrior, Black Rose and of course Whiskey in the Jar which are all about the Irish fighting tradition with the last song, an adaptation of a traditional ballad about a Rapparee. What further justification does one need to pursue an interest in the Rapparees when they are endorsed by the finest twin lead guitar band ever to rock the face of the planet? Lizzy to my twisted brain also in some way embrace the mixed political and international kaleidoscope of the 1690s by having in their line up over the years; Irish Protestants and Catholics, Scots, English and Americans!

A cottage near Ballyneety on the road to Limerick

Ballyneety August 11th 1690: A story about Pat & Mike: The ride of General Patrick Sarsfield and Michael ‘Galloping’ Hogan.

The history & legend bit

Having been provided with information from a deserter that the siege of Limerick would not be prosecuted until the arrival of a large artillery train from the east, Patrick Sarsfield decided to embark on a daring search and destroy mission. Under cover of evening darkness he rode out on August 10th 1690. He led between 500-600 Horse, the equivalent of two regiments. Apparently with hooves muffled, the column rode through County Clare crossing the Shannon at Killaloe.
Ballyneety looking toward the Slieve Mountains

They moved through the Silvermines Mountains and by dawn were near Keeper Hill. A local man called Michael Hogan was Sarsfield’s guide. They found the train was guarded by around 100 men, the equivalent of perhaps two companies. With scant heed to vigilance, the convoy stopped at Ballyneety on the night of August 11th barely 10 miles from the Williamite siege lines around Limerick. The spot was near a ruined castle.

News of Sarsfield’s secret sally had reached the Williamite camp and a detachment of Horse was ordered to leave at 9pm on the 11th to pick up the convoy and escort it in. For some reason it did not leave until after midnight. Meanwhile back near Ballyneety, the story goes that a Jacobite trooper was inadvertently gifted the password to cross the convoy’s picket line by a  Williamite soldier’s wife on her way to join her husband with the train.

Remains of the walls of Limerick

The password was ‘Sarsfield’! Fanciful legend has it that Sarsfield himself was the second man to try and cross the line using the password with the catchy ‘Sarsfield’s the word and Sarsfield’s the man!’ Much as I would like to believe this part of the story it does have a touch of blarney about it! It appears that by stealth or subterfuge the Jacobites were able to penetrate the camp with little loss to themselves, killing about half of the escort in the process. They captured 500 horses, 155 wagons of stores and ammunition, 6 twenty-four pounder cannon, 2 eighteen pounders, 5 mortars, 18 pontoons, and 12 wagons of provisions.

A victim of Sarsfield's raid

All were brought together and the entire train blown up with powder from the wagons. The guns were loaded, rammed into the earth and fired thus destroying them also. As the Jacobites rode off into the night the escort column was less than 1 mile from Ballyneety and the carnage. As one Irish source put it ‘they arrived in time to be too late!’ Pursuing for a short time they gave up and in true Cowboy and Indian fashion tried to head Sarsfield off before he re-crossed the Shannon. Enter ‘Galloping’ Hogan for the second time! The loyal Jacobite and trusty scout steered his comrades to safety with a crossing at Portumna on the 14th. The cowboys made it back to the ranch in time for curry and Guinness! Call it the luck of the Irish!
No mean feat. Sarsfield forded the Shannon here at Portumna
The fertile imagination of wargamers at large will immediately see numerous scenario possibilities here; A pursuit of Williamite wagon train in a sort of pre-Ballyneety scenario with the objective of hunting down and destroying individual components or the attack on the camp with a stealthy dismounted Jacobite force trying to fool the dozy sentinels or a plunder mission to destroy as many pieces of ordnance and supplies before the ‘cavalry’ arrive. What I have chosen however is the aftermath; the escape ride to the Shannon.

 

 

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