[In Our Time] The Treaty of Limerick

The Treaty of Limerick

07/11/2019 by BBC Radio 4

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=86245664
Episode: http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/6/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download/proto/http/vpid/p07t7tms.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the 1691 peace treaty that ended the Williamite War in Ireland, between supporters of the deposed King James II and the forces of William III and his allies. It followed the battles at Aughrim and the Boyne and sieges at Limerick, and led to the disbanding of the Jacobite army in Ireland, with troops free to follow James to France for his Irish Brigade. The Catholic landed gentry were guaranteed rights on condition of swearing loyalty to William and Mary yet, while some Protestants thought the terms too lenient, it was said the victors broke those terms before the ink was dry.

The image above is from British Battles on Land and Sea, Vol. I, by James Grant, 1880, and is meant to show Irish troops leaving Limerick as part of The Flight of the Wild Geese – a term used for soldiers joining continental European armies from C16th-C18th.


Jane Ohlmeyer
Chair of the Irish Research Council and Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin

Clare Jackson
Member of the History Faculty at the University of Cambridge and Senior Tutor of Trinity Hall


Thomas O’Connor
Professor of History at Maynooth University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Listen Date: 2020-01-29


  • Talks about how the Glorious Revolution wasn’t that glorious for Ireland, but in fact untold suffering; and how it being called Glorious is Whiggish propaganda. Poor Neal Stephenson.
  • The main point in this was that William was anxious to get on with the main objective of the war in Europe where Louis XIV was being dangerously expansionist, and the war in Ireland was an annoying sideshow which he wanted to conclude as quickly as possible, which is why he drew up the Treaty of Limerick in a rush.
  • Again, it brings up the thought about Protestants being angry at how the terms the Catholics got were too good that’s cropped up in earlier episodes.
  • And again, it seems to be part of a running preoccupation with In Our Time this year about Ireland, and as I said, it’s possibly driven by Brexit and Irish border anxiety.
  • The bit about “This wasn’t a treaty negotiated by diplomats, but a soldier’s promise” got me remembering Danny Pink. Maybe ‘soldier’s promise’ is a generally used term  in the UK and I just don’t know.


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