THE IRISH WILD GEESE

Balladeer's Blog

irish flagThough purists reserve the label Wild Geese strictly for those Irish Jacobin troops who left Ireland after the Williamite War ended in 1691, romantic military tradition has tended to consider almost all Irish expatriates who served in overseas armies from the 1580s into the 1800s and beyond as part of “the flight of the Wild Geese.”

The popular image of these wandering Irish warriors is of tragic exiles nobly fighting for the cause of freedom “in every land but their own” to twist the most famous poem about the Wild Geese. Their opponents in various conflicts would dispute that claim, naturally, but since this is Saint Patrick’s Day we’ll have none of that in this blog post. 

EIGHTY YEARS WAR – In 1585 an English Catholic named William Stanley raised an Irish Regiment to serve on the Continent with Queen Elizabeth’s forces. Stanley selected his 1,400 troops from the most…

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