the controversial message coming from a unique
all-island military veterans association which
has adopted the name given to Catholic troops
who fled Ireland in the early 1690s in the aftermath
of King Billys victory at the Boyne.
Wild Geese Association was only set up three months
ago, but already has signed up almost 50 old comrades
and war veterans from both sides of the Irish
this month, a standard for the WGA was officially
dedicated at the Michael Collins barracks in Dublin.
Ironically, the barracks is named after the legendary
IRA hero of the War of Independence and Irish
veteran John Jamieson is the WGAs secretary
and he emphasised the new association was the
first of its kind on the island because it comprised
ex-service people from both the British forces
and Irish Defence forces.
said: The Wild Geese Association is an all-Ireland
organisation of ex-military personnel. The idea
for the association originated from an old soldiers
day in Limerick last October hosted by the Association
of United Nations Lebanon Veterans.
are non-sectarian, non-political and non-aligned.
Among the main criteria for joining is that you
have to be a member of an ex-military organisation
which has been recognised in both parts of Ireland.
You also have to be born in Ireland, or be living
Jamieson has strong links with other old comrades
associations, including being chairman of the
Lisburn Royal Irish Rangers branch; president
of the Royal Irish Fusiliers branch, and chairman
of Lisburn Royal British Legion club.
said the Lebanon Veterans group had formally joined
the Wild Geese, as had representatives from the
Connaught Rangers and Dublin Fusiliers old comrades
the current growing Wild Geese membership, about
half were from the Republic, with the remainder
from the North, including Lisburn, Belfast, Ballyclare,
Newtownards, Antrim, Banbridge and one from London.
Wild Geese has also created another piece of military
history in Ireland by presenting a uniform to
the national museum at Collins Barracks
the first British veterans to officially stand
in the barracks since 1922.
another member of the Wild Geese Association,
Michael Leavy from Belfast, said even more history
had been created when a plaque was unveiled recently
in Collins Barracks museum dedicated to the memory
of the 168 Irish-born recipients of Britains
highest award for military courage the
window has been removed in the barracks and a
full-size plague has been installed containing
all 168 names in order of Irish county. We hope
this type of commemoration could spread to other
towns and cities across the island with plaques
being erected in city halls, town halls or libraries
to the Irish-born VC heroes, said Mr Leavy.
Jamieson added the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen
in the Republic had also become associate members
of the Wild Geese. We are simply old soldiers
looking after old soldiers, he said.
term Wild Geese has been controversial in Irish
history. It originally referred to the Irish Catholic
soldiers who fled Ireland to France under the
command of their famous general, Patrick Sarsfield,
Jacobite troops decided to quit the island after
the Treaty of Limerick in October that year reinforced
the Protestant King Williams victory in
Catholic soldiers decided to fight for continental
European armies in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries
rather than live in Ireland under the Protestant
the relaxing of the vehemently anti-Catholic Penal
Laws in the late 18th century as well as the scrapping
of laws in the 1790s banning Catholics from carrying
weapons, the British began recruiting Irish regiments
for its army.
the first of these Irish regiments was the famous
Connaught Rangers. During the bloody Penninsular
War in European from 1808 to 1814, up to one third
of the Duke of Wellingtons army comprised
1914 and the outbreak of World War One, there
were nine specifically Irish infantry regiments
dispatched to the trenches.
were: Prince of Waless Leinster Regiment;
Royal Dublin Fusiliers; Irish Guards; Royal Irish
Regiment; Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; Royal
Irish Rifles; Royal Irish Fusiliers; Connaught
Rangers, and Royal Munster Fusiliers.
in 1922 with the creation of the Free State, five
of these regiments were disbanded. Britain still
today retains two the Irish Guards and
the Royal Irish Regiment.
Wild Geese heritage museum and library exists
in Portumna, Co Galway. The term was also immortalised
in the cinema in 1978 when The Wild Geese was
starred screen legends, such as Richard Burton,
Richard Harris and Roger Moore of James Bond fame,
in an action adventure about a group of British
mercenaries who capture a central African leader.