Officials from France and Belgium believe they may have solved the mystery of the final resting place of Irish war hero Patrick Sarsfield after more than three centuries.
Sarsfield, the First Earl of Lucan, was killed during the August 29, 1693 Battle of Landen or Neerwinden in Belgium during the Nine Year’s War but his remains have never been found.
An estimated 12,000 Jacobite soldiers and their families fled to France from Ireland under Sarsfield’s command following the siege of Limerick in 1691 as part of the terms agreed under the Treaty of Limerick.
The event is known as The Flight of the Wild Geese and many of their ancestors are living across France today.
Thanks to the efforts of the Limerick Civic Trust and Dr Loïc Guyon, the Honorary Consul of France, a project to repatriate Sarsfield’s remains to Ireland as part of the Limerick Bastille Day Wild Geese Festival, appears to be a step closer.
Historians believe Sarsfield was buried in the grounds of St Martin’s church in the nearby town of Huy. Yet the burial grounds believed to be attached to the church, which now lay in ruins, have never been found.
However, in response to a request by Dr Guyon, officials from Huy City Council recently provided him with 28 documents, including an 18th century map of the area and references to the location of the graves of two French officers who were believed to be buried inside St Martin’s church between August 8 and 12, 1693.
Dr Guyon said the new information may finally reveal Sarsfield’s final resting place.
“Given the date when those two French officers were buried, one of them could well be Patrick Sarsfield himself.
"And even if it is not the case, it is almost certain that Sarsfield would have been buried next to them,” he said.
“Thanks to the documents sent by the Huy City Council, and after some further research, we will therefore not only be able to determine the precise location of the burial grounds of St Martin’s church, but we will also be able to pinpoint the exact area, within the church, where Patrick Sarsfield was most certainly buried.”
David O’Brien, CEO of the Limerick Civic Trust, said they will now investigate if the site is accessible and see if funding and permission is available to assemble a team of archaeologists to search for the remains.