Battle in 1690

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In June 1690, William of Orange landed in Carickfergus. He brought a large army with him. His army was made up of Dutch, French, Irish, Scottish and Italian soldiers and many others. William marched south towards Dublin . However, King James also had an army in Ireland at the time. Some of James’ army were Irish but others were English, Scots and French. The French King, Louis XIV gave soldiers to James as he wanted James to be king of England.

The Siege of Limerick

The Irish supporters of King James were left to continue to fight on. They fell back towards Limerick and the Shannon to try and escape William’s army. At the Siege of Limerick, Patrick Sarsfield and his soldiers successfully defended the strong-walled city.

The Siege of Athlone

In 1691, Louis XIV had sent to Ireland one of his most experienced generals, Marshal St Ruth. The general brought weapons and money with him to Ireland. In the spring of 1691, the Williamites attacked Athlone. The Irish soldiers tried to prevent William’s troops from crossing the Shannon and destroyed the great bridge leading to Athlone. The Williamites built a new bridge of timber, however this bridge was destroyed again by a few Irish soldiers.

The story of this bridge is told in the poem “The Ballad of Athlone”. Read the poem to see can you imagine what happened.

The Williamite army had to cross the Shannon at another place north of Athlone. The war ended with the Battle of Aughrim in 1691 when the Irish were defeated. Sarsfield retreated to Limerick and a second siege began. A treaty known as the Treaty of Limerick was signed on October 3rd 1691. Irish soldiers could join either the English or the French army. Soldiers who stayed in Ireland were allowed to keep their lands.