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Track 8: The Battle Of Aughrim (1691)

Track 8. The Battle of Aughrim Lament - The Battle of Aughrim

The Battle of Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite War and was much more strategically significant than the Battle of The Boyne. It was fought on the 12th of July 1691, near the village of Aughrim in County Galway.

The battle was the bloodiest ever fought on Irish soil – over 7,000 people were killed. Notable figues in the battle were the French general Charles Chalmont (the Marquis de Saint-Ruth) who had taken over as commander of the Jacobites from Richard Talbot (1st Earl of Tyrconnel) after the defeat at the Boyne. In command of the Jacobite Cavalry was Patrick Sarsfield – an experienced soldier and Jacobite who was very close to James II. The Williamite troops were led by Godert de Ginkell, a Dutch general who had recently taken Athlone due to Saint-Ruth’s failure to mobilise troops swiftly enough. Galled by this failure, Saint-Ruth chose a strong position near Aughrim and waited for Ginkell’s force to arrive. His plan was to lure the Williamites into a treacherous bog in front of his line. At first these tactics appeared to be sucessful - thick mist enveloped Ginkell's army as it moved out; and many soldiers were drawn into the bog, cut off and slaughtered, while the Jacobites took a battery of Williamite guns. Confident of victory, Saint-Ruth attempted to rally his troops for a push forward, but incredibly a cannon ball, fired at extreme range, took off his head. As Williamite cavalry made a flanking assault over a narrow stretch of dry ground, a force of Jacobite horse under Henry Luttrell withdrew instead of counterattacking. Henry Luttrell was alleged to have been in the pay of the Williamites and was assassinated in Dublin after the war. The Jacobite position now collapsed very quickly. The cavalry near Saint-Ruth fled the field leaving the flank open. Those near Sarsfield, seeing the retreat, also began to leave the field though Sarsfield did try to organize a rearguard action. This left the infantry completely exposed and they were surrounded and slaughtered.

Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite war in Ireland. The city of Galway surrendered without a fight after the battle and the Jacobite's main army surrendered shortly afterwards at Limerick after a short siege. Sarsfield arranged the Treaty of Limerick and sailed to France on 22 December 1691, with many of his countrymen who entered the French service in what is known as the Flight of the Wild Geese. The Treaty of Limerick was seen at the time as a good result for the Jacobites as it protected the rights of those Jacobites who chose to remain in Ireland. However, the flight of the wild geese spelled the end of the Irish and Old English aristocracy and the introduction of the penal laws in 1695 effectively broke the sentiments of the treaty and worsened the plight of Irish Catholics.

The beautiful slow reel - The Battle of Aughrim - laments the slaughter which took place at Aughrim and the subsequent oppression of the native Irish.

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