They were a truculent and obstinate people, and gloried in the warlike renown of their forefathers, the men who had followed Cromwell, and who had shared in the defence of Derry and in the victories of the Boyne and Aughrim.
Galway had yielded immediately after the day of Aughrim, its garrison claiming and obtaining the right of marching out with all the honours of war. Tyrconnel was dying, and had long lost, too, what little reputation he had ever had as a soldier. Sarsfield, however, stood firm to the last. Fresh reinforcements were hoped for from France, but none came until too late to be of any use.
The expedition of the following spring, under command of Marshal Saint Ruth, was mainly procured by his able diplomacy, and though he returned to Ireland to survive but a few weeks the disastrous day of Aughrim, it is impossible from the Irish point of view, not to recall with admiration, mixed indeed with alloy, but still with largely prevailing admiration, the extraordinary energy, buoyancy and talents of Richard, Duke of Tyrconnell.
O'Kelly has manuring for his land, that is not sand or dung, but ready soldiers doing bravery with pikes, that were left in Aughrim stretched in ridges Och ochone! Who is that beyond on the hill, Ben Edair? I a poor soldier with King James. I was last year in arms and in dress, but this year I am asking alms Och ochone! An Aran Maid's Wedding
I had got them into fair order, and was expecting to be ordered to embark for the Low Country at any moment, when the news came of Ginckle's heavy losses at Athlone and Aughrim, and the orders came for us to proceed to Bristol, and take ship there for Ireland.
Above five hundred prisoners, with thirty-two pairs of colours, eleven standards, and a large quantity of small arms, fell into the hands of the victors. One portion of the fugitive survivors fled to Galway, the larger part, including all the cavalry, to Limerick. This double blow at Athlone and Aughrim shook to pieces the remaining Catholic power in Connaught.
It is to be regretted that the same judicious rule was not at the same tune enforced by government as to the celebration of the much more obsolete and much more invidious anniversaries of Aughrim and the Boyne. The general election which followed the death of Fox, in November, 1806, was the first great trial of political strength under the Union. As was right and proper, Mr.
Saint Ruth's force must have numbered from 15,000 to 20,000 men, with nine field-pieces; De Ginkle commanded from 25,000 to 30,000, with four batteries two of which mounted six guns each. During the entire day, attack after attack, in the direction of Urrachree or of Aughrim was repulsed, and the assailants were about to retire in despair.
There were many soldiers glad and happy, that were going the way through seven weeks; but now they are stretched down in Aughrim Och ochone! They put the first breaking on us at the bridge of the Boyne; the second breaking on the bridge of Slaine; the third breaking in Aughrim of O'Kelly; and O sweet Ireland, my five hundred healths to you Och ochone!
On the morning of the 11th of July, as the early haze lifted itself in wreaths from the landscape, he found himself within range of the Irish, drawn up, north and south, on the upland of Kilcommodan hill, with a morass on either flank, through which ran two narrow causeways on the right, "the pass of Urrachree," on the left, the causeway leading to the little village of Aughrim.