Bastille Day event brings a scent of revolution to the city

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The Wild Geese monument at Merchants Quay.

THERE will be a scent of revolution in the Limerick air this weekend when the city celebrates Bastille Day and its historic ‘Wild Geese’ links with France at King John’s Castle on Sunday, July 14.

The Limerick celebration will feature free family entertainment, a free tour of the castle, displays in the courtyard, musical performances and a historical talk on ‘The Flight of the Wild Geese’.

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Members of the public, and particularly those from the French community living in Limerick, are invited to the Castle for a four-hour programme of events that will include a parade of En Garde, dressed as 18th-century soldiers of the Légion Irlandaise. They will be joined by members of the French Foreign Legion Association of Ireland and members of the Irish Defence Forces as well as Limerick’s Boherbuoy Band.

A talk by Cornelius O’Sullivan, President of En Garde, on the history of the Wild Geese and their impact on the shared history of France and Ireland will be followed by a gun salute by En Garde members.

Mayor Michael Sheahan said that one of his priorities was to honour the Limerick diaspora and he had called for a ‘Wild Geese Festival’ to remember them and their contribution.

“I’m delighted that, together with the new Honorary Consul of France in Limerick, a special celebration around Bastille Day is taking place. Limerick and France have many ties, the Wild Geese among them, and it’s great that we are beginning to look at and celebrate this connection.“

Newly appointed Honorary Consul of France Loïc Guyon said the event will symbolise “an annual celebration of the long-lasting friendship between our two nations.”

“The Flight of the Wild Geese brought our two countries closer than ever before, with so many Irish men and women settling in France and, for many of them, integrating into French society in very successful ways.

“The fact that the Limerick Wild Geese Festival will be scheduled every year on the Sunday of or immediately preceding Bastille Day is highly symbolic. This year’s event will only be a small-scale version of what we are hoping to organise from next year onwards but should already be a very special and enjoyable experience for all”.

Shannon Heritage managing director Niall O’Callaghan said that, as operators of King John’s Castle, they were delighted to be associated with an event that strengthened Franco-Hibernian relations and showed how the castle was embedded in Limerick’s history.

Registration for Limerick’s Bastille Day celebration takes place at 1pm at the entrance to King John’s Castle.


THE WILD GEESE

The term ‘Wild Geese’ had been used to describe those Irish serving in European armies since the 16th century. The historical episode known as the ‘Flight of the Wild Geese’ refers to the 12,000 Irish Jacobite soldiers, commanded by Patrick Sarsfield, who left Ireland for France as agreed in the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 ending the Williamite War in Ireland. The Wild Geese formed King James’s army in exile but by 1692 were incorporated into the French Army.