Eighteenth Century Ireland: The Long Peace

Matthew Kelly writes:

On 12 March 1689, James II, the deposed king of England and Ireland, Catholic and absolutist, landed at Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland with a substantial French force. He had fled England a few months before when William and Mary had been declared joint sovereigns – the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’. In April, the House of Commons responded by voting for war with France. Initially, that war, which would continue intermittently for much of the next century, was fought in Ireland. The campaigns of 1689-91 bequeathed to modern Ireland many of its most important lieux de mémoire: Limerick, Londonderry, the Boyne and Aughrim, thereafter celebrated – or cursed – in songs and poetry. Whether in battle, or in laying or surviving a siege, the Williamites – synonymous with the Protestant cause – eventually triumphed. The place names are perhaps remembered only in Ireland but this was a war fought on a European scale: 62,000 men clashed on the Boyne in 1690; 7000 Jacobites were killed during Aughrim’s ‘grim disaster’ in 1691.

(LRB 5 August 2010)