Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan

Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan

Patrick Sarsfield (c. 1660 – 21 August 1693), created the first Earl of Lucan, Irish Jacobite and soldier, belonged to an Anglo-Norman family long settled in Ireland.


Sarsfield was born in Lucan. His father Patrick Sarsfield married Anne, daughter of Rory O'Moore, who organized the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The family possessed an estate of £2000 a year. Patrick, who was a younger son, entered Dongan's Regiment of Foot on 6 February 1678.

In his early years he is known to have challenged Lord Grey for a supposed reflection on the veracity of the Irish people (September 1681), and in the December of that year he was run through the body in a duel in which he engaged as second. During the last years of the reign of King Charles II he saw service in the English regiments that were attached to the army of Louis XIV of France. The accession of King James II led to his return home.

He took part in the suppression of the Western rebellion at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685. In the following year he was promoted to a colonelcy. King James had adopted the policy of remodelling the Irish army so as to turn it from a Protestant-led force to a Roman Catholic-led one, and Sarsfield, whose family were Roman Catholics, was selected to assist in this reorganization. He went to Ireland with Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, who was appointed commander-in-chief by the king.

Williamite war 1689–1691

In 1688 the death of his elder brother, who had no son, put him in possession of the family estate, which in those troubled times can have been of small advantage to him. When the king brought over a few Irish soldiers to coerce the English, Sarsfield came in command of them. As the king was deserted by his army there was no major battles, but Sarsfields soldiers were involved in a skirmish at Reading and had a brush with some Scottish soldiers in the service of the Prince of Orange at Wincanton.

When King James disbanded his army and fled to France, Sarsfield accompanied him. In 1689 he returned to Ireland with the king. During the earlier part of the Williamite war in Ireland he secured Connacht for the Jacobites. The King, who is said to have described him as a brave fellow who had no head, promoted him to the rank of brigadier, and then to major-general, with some reluctance.

It was not until after the Battle of the Boyne (1 July 1690), and during the Siege of Limerick (1690), that Sarsfield became prominent as a leader. His capture of a convoy of military stores and artillery at Ballyneety, near Pallasgreen between Limerick and Tipperary, in a raid apparently guided by a rapparee known as "Galloping" O'Hogan, delayed the siege of the town until the winter rains forced the English to retire.

This achievement made him the popular hero of the war with the Irish. His generosity, his courage and his commanding height, had already commended him to the affection of the Irish. When the cause of King James was ruined in Ireland, Sarsfield arranged the Treaty of Limerick and sailed to France on 22 December 1691, with many of his countrymen who entered the French service in what is known as the Flight of the Wild Geese.


He received a commission as lieutenant-general ("maréchal-de-camp") from King Louis XIV and fought with distinction in Flanders until he was mortally wounded at the battle of Landen or Neerwinden, on 19 August 1693. He died two or three days after the battle, at Huy, Belgium, where he is buried in the grounds of St Martin's Church.

A plaque on the wall of this church marks the approximate location of his grave. He was quoted as watching his lifeblood ebbing away, and saying "If this was only for Ireland."

In 1691 he had been created Earl of Lucan by King James. He married Lady Honora Burke (or de Burgh), daughter of the Earl of Clanricarde, by whom he had one son, James Sarsfield, 2nd Earl of Lucan, who died childless in 1718. They also had one daughter. His widow remarried to the Duke of Berwick.


Patrick Sarsfield is well-recognised in County Limerick. One of the three main road bridges in Limerick is named Sarsfield Bridge, along with the adjoining Sarsfield Street. Sarsfield Barracks is the army barracks of Limerick. Part of the route Sarsfield took for his daring attack on the Williamite siege train is marked out today, as "Sarsfield's Ride", and is a popular walking and cycling route through County Clare and County Limerick. A rock which overlooks the site of the attack is today named Sarsfield Rock, with a plaque commemorating the Irish victory.

The town of Sarsfield in eastern Ontario was named in honour of Patrick Sarsfield in 1874.

A number of GAA clubs around Ireland also bear his name.

A part of the California Army National Guard, Bravo Company, 184th Infantry Regiment out of Dublin, CA was once called the "Sarslfield Grenadier Guards" after the Irish leader when the unit was only composed of soldiers of either Irish birth or descent. []


*See J Todhunter, "Life of Patrick Sarsfield" (London, 1895).

See also

* List of people on stamps of Ireland
* Sarsfield

External links

* [ Limerick City: A bit of History - The Treaty of Limerick]
* [ Wild Geese Heritage Museum and Library]
* [ Sarsfield Rock]

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