Story of Sarsfield's daughter -18th Aug. 1945


The Story of Sarsfield's Daughter: Text Version

Aug. 18, 1945


There is one name that will for all time be associated with Limerick. It is that of Patrick Sarsfield, the City's gallant defender. Many people must have called his exploits to mind last month during Limerick's Army Week, when they saw the historic events of 1691, re-enacted in Thomond Park. We were back again in the autumn of that fateful year. English were thundering, and once more the women of Limerick stood on the bullet-swept walls. In the final scene we saw Sarsfield ride out from that beleagured city to sign the famous Treaty, on practically the identical spot where the original Treaty was signed 254 years ago.

There is hardly a more popular figure in all Irish history than Patrick Sarsfield. He is the first great Patrick to bear the name of our National Apostle, and well over two hundred years were to elapse before the name was again written large in the annals of our land, when a man called Pearse went out to die in protest for a glorious thing. St. Patrick, Patrick Sarsfield and Padraig Pearse - the story of Ireland would be meaningless without them.

Enemies, no less than friends, have paid testimony to the upright character of Sarsfield. 'A brave and skilful leader', 'a gallant soldier', 'an honourable gentleman', 'the beau-ideal of Irish chivalry' – these are but some of the tributes paid to him. But how many of the millions who have heard of the Defender of Limerick know that he had a daughter who became a European Queen?


Her story is bound up with that of Corsica that Mediterranean isle so much in the news from time to time during the war just ended. In this island was born one of the greatest military commanders of all time, the 'little corporal', who was destined to become one day the Emperor Napoleon.

For two centuries Corsica was a fief of the Republic of Genoa. Then in 1729 the islanders, believing that they were being called upon to pay unduly high taxes, flocked to the standard of Giacinto Paoli, and revolted. Paoli gave the island a constitution, and prepared to win her freedom from the unwilling Genose.

In 1736, a German baron landed on the island with a supply of arms and... His opportune arrival gave ..[..] life to the cause of the island. An assembly of clergy and..[…] proclaimed him King of free and independent Corsica. His name was Theodore von Neuhof, and his wife was the daughter of Patrick Sarsfield. He was styled Theodore (?) King of Corsica, and he instituted an Order of Liberty and distributed titles.

For a long while the fight for liberty went on; the Theodore left the island to seek allies. In the meantime French forces came to aid the Genose in crushing the Corsicans. In 1743 the King, having secured the support of some British ships, returned to the island to recover his kingdom, but during his absence the islanders had lost faith in him. This time they rejected him, and he had no choice but to sail away from the land over which he had once reigned as king.


It is strange that the daughter of Sarsfield should have her fate linked to a king who had lost his kingdom. She must have remembered another king rejected by his people; she must have called to mind the battles fought for him in a far-off land -– Derry and Boyne, Athlone and Aughrim; she must have remembered, too, the exploits of her own gallant father, his heroic defence of Limerick, his immortal ride to Ballyneety.

'And Ballyneety's blackened tower

Still marks that famous place,

Where Sarsfield staked his all to win,

And won that midnight race.'

She must have often wondered if every resort to arms by those near and dear to her was doomed to failure. She had heard the story of the great Rebellion of 1641, when her great-grandfather, Rory O'Moore, had given battle to the Saxon invader. Hopes were high and the people sang:-

'Our trust is in God and Rory O'Moore.'

But 1641 ended in disaster and the aftermath was Cromwell.

In her own day she had seen the cause for which her father fought go down in final ruin. Such is the story of the daughter of Patrick Sarsfield. It is the last page in the history of a great family. We do not know whether the island king and his Irish wife left any descendants, for after that time we hear no more of them. Perhaps descendants of Sarsfield are somewhere in Europe today suffering and starving with the millions of hapless people in that stricken continent. There are certainly many descendants of the Wild Geese in sore need in Europe these days. How wonderful it would be to learn that some of the supplies from Ireland had gone to alleviate their distress! At Ramillies and Fontenoy their fathers swept the foe before them crying 'Remember Limerick'. Do we ever remember them?

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