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The Wild Geese – 1691

After the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 20,000 Irish soldiers went to France with Patrick Sarsfield. A force of 5,000 had already gone there under the command of Justin McCarthy, Lord Mountcashel.  These soldiers formed the “Irish Brigade,” which, for the next hundred years took a leading role in every battle fought by the French army.  The Irish Government tried to stop young men enlisting as France was often at war with England, but every year, thousands were smuggled abroad in vessels sailing to French ports.  Ship Captains described these unauthorised passengers as “Wild Geese” in the ship’s books.

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