Cath Eachroma 1691 was set up the inform and educate the public about the events and significance of the 1691 battle in the most accessible way possible. They examine the impact that the battle had on culture, and explore the art, music, and literature that has arisen from it.
The significance of the battle meant after Aughrim the Jacobites capitulated at Limerick, and the terms of the Treaty negotiated there meant that the vast majority of the Irish Upper Class and essentially all the fighting men left the country in what became known as the “Flight of the Wild Geese”. This huge exodus led to a power vacuum in the country, which was quickly filled by protestant gentry and the penal laws.
In terms of wider European significance, the defeat at Aughrim put a stop to Louis XIV’s plans of Europe domination and meant that the English monarchy was now aligned to the protestant cause.
The idea for the group came about in 2016 when the founding members George Geraghty and Joe Treacy approached Michael Riddell and Abbie McGowan to speak at an event for Heritage Week. Hannah Daly was asked to give a talk during her tenure as manager of the Visitor Centre along with James Treacy, and the group has expanded since then to include the Tully family who have supplemented the traditional music aspect that Valerie Seale also brings to the event.
For heritage week this year the group had a talk and walk. It was a huge success with over 100 people in attendance. “We were staggered by the support we received, particularly from Ballinasloe town. We are already planning something for next year and hope to improve our offering”, states Chair Michael.
Previously the organisation has worked with Marian Donohue from Galway County Council to improve the overall visitor experience in 2019, and she was a dream to work alongside. Working in conjunction with herself and Dr. Padraig Lenihan of NUIG they produced an activity pack which consists of a booklet containing information and activities about the 1691 Battle aimed at primary and secondary school students – improving the offering for school visits.
The group were also involved in the refurbishment of the centre, which was again spearheaded by Marian with display information researched by Michael and Abbie McGowan. The props, mannequins and flags sourced by Abbie from Lynn Williams of Irish Arms.
They were also involved in the production of a short promotion video for the centre which was produced by Fiona Ashe with funding from Failte Ireland. During the lockdowns they produced a photo booklet comprising of aerial photos of key locations on the battlefield alongside a short piece of text which explained the events that occurred there.
In the future they wish to see their group expanded to include more members, particularly those local to Aughrim. They would also love to collaborate with the communities on the outskirts of the Battlefield- Clontuskert and Kilconnell both have a wealth of heritage relative to the battle and they feel that there is certainly scope for a much larger project.
For next Heritage Week, they would love to see their current programme expanded to include weapon and uniform displays, and they would also like to inform the public about the second battle that took place in Aughrim: The March of O’Sullivan Beare.
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