Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 6: From 1660 to the surrender of Galway to King William's forces, 1691

Battle of Aughrim, 1691

Chapter 6

From 1660 to the surrender of Galway to King William's forces, 1691

Return to table of contents
Old map of Galway

The eventful day that was to decide the fate of the town was now drawing nigh. On the 12th of July, 1691, the hostile armies of the two contending monarchs met on the memorable plains of Aughrim, whence the noise of their cannon might be easily heard at its gates. It is not our intention to enter into a description of the sanguinary and decisive engagement which here took place: the news of its result was known that night in the town, whither several of the fugitives fled for shelter. The alarm of the inhabitants may be easily conceived to have been extreme, and every preparation was made for defence. Many, however, were so panic-struck, that they would have compromised for their safety by immediately surrendering almost on any terms. Lord Dillon, the governor, the French lieutenant general D'Ussone, and the other officers of rank in the town, immediately held a council of war. It appeared that the town, though strong and well stored with provisions, was deficient in men and arms, which were drawn away by degrees to supply other exigencies. The garrison consisted but seven regiments of foot with a few troops of horse, and these neither full nor well armed; but their great dependance was on the promises of Balldearg O'Donnell, whom they hourly expected from Iar-Connaught with the troops under his command. [cc]

Patrick Sarsfield

Patrick Sarsfield

Though thus circumstanced, it was unanimously resolved to defend the town. General Ginckle, the English commander, having judged it necessary to reduce Galway before he should proceed to Limerick, after a few days delay to refresh his troops, marched on the 17th of July towards Athenry, and encamped on the surrounding plains. On the same day he advanced, with a party, three miles nearer Galway, to a rising ground, from whence he could see the shipping in the bay. On his return to the camp he found a Mr. Shaw, a merchant of the town, (who, with a few other Protestants, had that morning escaped,) from whom he received a full account how matters stood within. This information was the most satisfactory, as it differed entirely from what he had previously received from others, that the garrison consisted of five thousand men, and those well armed; that the stores were considerable, and the town almost impregnable; that Sarsfield, with the whole of the Irish horse, was upon his march with a resolution to raise the siege; and that Ballderg's party was about six thousand strong: all which led him to apprehend that he would have more trouble with Galway than he expected, and the siege would be protracted to the ensuing winter; a circumstance which, above all others, he was most anxious to avoid.

Next: Seige of the town

Online edition of Hardiman's History of Galway, © 1995-2001 World Wide Web Marketing Ltd. This is still a work in progress.