Sarsfield led the second flight of the Wild Geese. After the Treaty of Limerick, He marched to Cork with 11,000 soldiers and embarked for France. Born at Lucan near Dublin, about 1650; on his mother’s side he was descended from the O’Mores, princes of Leix, his grandfather being Roger More, the ablest of the leaders who planned the rebellion of 1641; on his father’s side from Anglo-Norman stock.
One of his ancestors was mayor of Dublin in 1566 and was knighted by Sir Henry Sidney for valuable services rendered to the Government against Shane O’Neill. Another Sarsfield, in the reign of Charles I, became a peer with the title of Lord Kilmallock. His father left him landed property bringing an income of £2000 sterling a year. His elder brother was married to an illegitimate daughter of Charles II, sister of the Duke of Monmouth, and it was as an ensign in Monmouth’s Regiment of Foot that Sarsfield first saw service in the army of Luxembourg; but at Sedgemoor, where he was wounded, Sarsfield was on the king’s side.
In 1688 he followed James II to France, and landed with him at Kinsale in the following year. James recognised his bravery, but thought him incapable of high command. Nevertheless in 1689 he captured Sligo and secured all Connaught for the king.
At the Boyne he was compelled to inactivity, and when James fled to Dublin he took Sarsfield with him. After James’s departure for France, it was largely through Sarsfield that Limerick was defended so well, and it was he who destroyed William’s siege train, the most brilliant exploit of the whole war. James was so well pleased with him that he created him Earl of Lucan.
In the campaign of 1691 he held a subordinate position under St. Ruth. The two often disagreed, and at Aughrim St. Ruth allowed Sarsfield no active share in the battle, leaving him in command of the cavalry reserve. When St. Ruth fell Sarsfield could not turn defeat into victory, but he saved the Irish from utter destruction. In the second siege of Limerick he was again prominent, but finding prolonged resistance impossible assented to the Treaty of Limerick, which ended the war. He then joined the army of France, in which with the Irish Brigade he saw much service.
At Landen in 1693, he commanded the left wing of Luxembourg’s army, and there received his death wound. There is a tradition that as he lay mortally wounded he put his hand to his wound, and drawing it forth covered with blood, he lamented ‘Oh, that this were for Ireland’. He was carried to Huy where he lingered for a few days. His widow married the Duke of Berwick.
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