In 1691, many of those in the Irish catholic army defeated by William of Orange fled to France, where they established the tradition of “Irish Brigades” fighting the British from abroad to secure Irish independence. They became known as the “Wild Geese”. Over the ensuing years, several Irish nationalists set up brigades in different conflicts. This book sets out the history of those brigades and their charismatic leaders, starting with Thomas Francis Meagher, a participant in the 1848 rebellion who was transported to Tasmania before escaping to America and establishing a brigade in the US Civil War. “Foxy Jack” MacBride established a brigade fighting the British in the Boer War, married the famous actress Maud Gonne (friend of the poet W B Yeats), and was executed for taking part in the Easter Rising 1916.
Born in Australia, Arthur Lynch also formed a brigade in the Boer War, following which he became a British MP, and was found guilty of treason, before being pardoned and establishing a separate brigade in the British army in the First World War. Roger Casement, humanitarian and ex-British Consul, is the most famous of those covered. Casement was executed in controversial circumstances for establishing an Irish Brigade during the First World War. This work examines those circumstances in depth and the true role that he played in the Easter Rising. The last of those covered was Joseph Patrick Dowling, jailed for landing in Ireland from a German submarine in 1918. The book examines the part played individually and collectively by the brigades in finally securing Irish independence, drawing heavily on British official documents.