Collection: Mason Photographic Collection >> Photograph: Légion Irlandaise - Empire Francais. Badge of the...
Photograph: Légion Irlandaise - Empire Francais. Badge of the Irish.
|Main Creator:||Mason, Thomas Holmes, 1877-1958, photographer|
|Published / Created:||
Additional information about this photograph is available on the National Library of Ireland's Flickr Commons photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/35605028755
Physical description: Glass slide 1.
Mr. Mason has come up with some gems in his collection, and I think that this is one of those! The regalia of a soldier in the Irish Brigade(?) in one of the French Empires must be as rare now as hens teeth. It would be interesting if we could find out the history of the pieces, what era they came from and perhaps which regiment? Remember "When on Ramillies bloody field the baffled French were forced to yield, the victor Saxon backward reeled, before the charge of Clare's Dragoons"?
WIth thanks to today's brilliant contributions, we have apparent confirmation that these pieces were associated with Napoleon's Irish Legion of 1803-1815, and are now held by the National Museum of Ireland. The cross-belt plate is believed to have been worn by a Captain Patrick McCann, who died following the Battle of Flushing in 1809....
Photographer: Thomas H. Mason
Collection: Mason Photographic Collection
Date: Catalogue range c.1890-1910
NLI Ref: M46/17
You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie
Tags: Thomas Holmes Mason, Thomas Mayne, Thomas H. Mason & Sons Limited, Lantern Slides, National Library of Ireland, Regalia, badges, regimental, French Empire, Irish Brigade, Legion Irlandaise, Belt plate, Gorget, Empire Francais, Patrick McCann, Captain Patrick McCann, Cross-belt plate, Napoleon, Walcheren Expedition, Peninsular War, Battle of Flushing, National Museum of Ireland, Military history, mercenaries
The roundy yoke is a bit of cavalry armour (or derived from it, anyway - it's a gorget), and the horn suggests scouts, huntsmen or the postal service.
I believe This belt plate and gorget are still in the National Museum, rare pieces indeed I would say.
This is a nice piece on the Legion Irlandaise, militaryheritage.com/irish.htm
The story goes that the King of France found the Irish brigade very unruly with their drinking and fighting. He complained to their commanding office by saying " the Irish troops are more troublesome than the rest of the French army"
The reply from the commanding office was " yes your majesty, the enemy say the same"
wikipedia has an article en Francais. Legion founded in 1803 with a view to invading Ireland. Dissolved in 1815.
It seems these pieces belonged to a Captain Patrick McCann, a soldier in Napoleon's Irish Legion
Pinterest image suggests the original is across the way in the National Museum.
Most interesting. There is a lot of information about the Legion Irlandaise on Wikipedia and other sites (mostly in French)
Apparently the gorget is marked with McCann on the back, which led to Patrick McCann, who was mortally wounded at the siege of Flushing.
There is some information about Patrick McCann in this article about the death of his wife. "Patrick MacCann, who was 'wounded at the siege of Flushing in August, 1809, died in the hospital at Ghent, after the amputation of his arm.... ...MacCann was in business at Dublin, when he was arrested and thrown into prison till the peace of Amiens, 1802, when he was liberated on condition of expatriating himself for ever." One of the footnotes adds that Patrick McCann was a pharmacist born in Killeray, Co. Armagh.
Yikes! There are re-enactment Legionnaires in Australia - [https://www.flickr.com/photos/merryjack/7115382759/]
In this article (in French), on page five, it is written that the 1st battalion was stationed in Flushing. After the defeat, nearly the entire battalion was held captive in England until 1814 except for a few officers who had managed to escape. Among them William Lawless future colonel and commander of the Regiment (the "Légion irlandaise" is renamed "Régiment irlandais" in 1812). The Flag of the First Battalion was green with on one side a celtic harp and the words "Indépendance de l'Irlande" and on the other side "L'empereur des français à la légion irlandaise"
It's a beautiful decoration. I imagine this legion must go back to the Wild Geese days. As usual you have managed to find something very unusual and educational - I've said it before, but I really do always learn something new when I visit this stream.
Adjutant general Bernard MacSheehy was to form the regiment. Basically wanted to rally the Irish to join the French side against the British who controlled the island. The French lost the Battle of Trafalgar and Napoleon didn't have the boats needed to carry out the invasion. The fought in the Spanish War of Independance (Peninsular War)and Battle of Flushing. Seems they were the only foreign regiment to be awarded an Imperial Eagle by Napoleon. -My liberal translation of the French Wikipedia article.
National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Brilliant stuff - Thanks [https://www.flickr.com/photos/33577523@N08] for confirming the location (I've mapped this image to the "Decorative Arts & History" [Collins Barracks] exhibition rooms of the National Museum). Thanks also to you and [https://www.flickr.com/photos/scorbet] for the extra info on the belt-plate and it's apparent original owner (I've updated the tags/etc to reflect). Bonne nuit à tous!!
I think [https://www.flickr.com/photos/scorbet]'s Google Books link to Dempsey's "Napoleon's Mercenaries" work has the same text (though for some reason the books.google.de site won't render the text for me), but the description of the two artifacts reads:
There are two interesting uniform artefacts from the Legion in the National Museum of Ireland. (Drawings of these items can be found inside the back cover of Irish Sword, Vol. 1 No 3 [1951-52].) The first is a gilt cross-belt plate which is essentially octagonal in shape, albeit with two side elongated to make it taller than it is wide. The plate is decorated with a silver harp in 'Maid of Eric' style (i.e., with the fore-pillar carved in the shape of the bust of a woman with wings) and bears the following inscription in an oval arrangement around the harp: '*LEGION IRLANDAISE* EMPIRE FRANCAIS'. The second items is a brass gorget marked on the back with the name 'MacCann', which may have belonged to Captain Pat MacCann, who was mortally wounded at the siege of Flushing. The gorget is decorated with a silver bugle horn ornament which bears in its center a round device engraved with a harp (in this case with a plain fore-pillar) which rests on the words 'EMPIRE/FRANCAIS' (placed one on top of the other) and is surrouned on the top and sides by the words 'LEGION IRLANDAISE'.I would also note that the NLI seem to hold a copy of the illustrations from the "Irish Sword" (which Dempsey references in his book), and which are described in the NLI catalogue as:
Illustration in colour of a crossbelt plate and gorget of Napoleon's Irish Legion, 1803-1815. Drawn from the originals presented to the National Museum by T. H. Mason
National Library of Ireland on The Commons
[https://www.flickr.com/photos/20727502@N00] Interesting find, well done.