Ferrars History of Limerick Antique Print-Siege of Limerick 1691


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The Siege of Limerick 1691 from the definitive Ferrars History of Limerick was first published in 1787
There are very few copies still in existence and these 5 prints were generously taken from 16 original engravings in the first edition .

35cm x 40cm  Limerick

The Siege of Limerick in western Ireland was a second siege of the town during the Williamite War in Ireland (1689–1691). The city, held by Jacobite forces was able to beat off a Williamite assault in 1690. However, after a second siege in August–October 1691, it surrendered on favourable terms.

By the time of the second siege, the military situation had turned against the Jacobites; their main force had been badly defeated at the Battle of Aughrim in July, with over 4,000 killed, including their commander, the Marquis de St Ruth, and thousands more either taken prisoner or deserted. The town of Galway capitulated in July 1691; its Jacobite garrison was accorded ‘all the honours of war,’ which allowed them to retain their weapons and receive a free pass to Limerick.

Siege of Limerick 1691, map.

However, although its defences had been considerably strengthened since 1690, morale was now much lower after a series of defeats and retreats. By now, siege warfare was an exact art, the rules of which were so well understood wagering on their outcome and duration had become a popular craze; the then enormous sum of £200,000 was alleged to have been bet on the siege. The Williamite general Godert de Ginkell surrounded the city and bombarded it, tearing a breach in the walls of English town. A surprise Williamite attack drove the Irish defenders from the earthworks defending Thomond bridge, sending its Irish defenders reeling back towards Limerick. The French defenders of the main gate of the city refused to open it for the fleeing Irish and about 800 of them were cut down or drowned in the river Shannon.

Capitulation and treaty

After this point, Patrick Sarsfield ousted the Chevalier de Tessé and the Marquis d’Usson, the French commanders in Limerick, and began negotiations to surrender. He and Ginkel concluded a treaty that promised to respect the civilian population of Limerick, tolerate the Catholic religion in Ireland, guarantee against the confiscation of Catholic-owned land and allow Sarsfield and the fully-armed Jacobite army to withdraw to France. Limerick capitulated under those favourable terms in October 1691. Sarsfield left Ireland with 10,000 soldiers and 4,000 women and children to enter the French service, a journey that has become known as the Flight of the Wild Geese.

The terms of the Treaty of Limerick were not honoured by the 1697 Protestant-dominated Irish Parliament, and Catholics were subjected to the continuous oppression of the Penal Laws, which discriminated against them until the early 19th century


The History of Limerick by James Ferrar published in 1787 is a history of Limerick city from ancient times until the late 18th century. Limerick was an important medieval stronghold, became an important port and trading centre, was subject to a series of sieges in the 17th century and finally experienced a brief golden age of prosperity during the Georgian period of the late 18th century.

Limerick or Luimneach was an ancient settlement long before the Vikings captured it and established their own town there in the 9th century. They used it as a base for trade and also to launch raids up the River Shannon against monastic sites like Clonmacnoise and other wealthy Christian centres. However in the 11th century the last Viking king of Limerick was defeated by King Brian Boru.

In 1174, the Norman conquerors who had already seized Dublin , Leinster and Munster captured the city of Limerick . It was given its city charter by King Richard I in 1197 and a castle fortress was built by King John about 1200. The medieval city featured a walled town known as Englishtown on the north side of the River Shannon. Irishtown was inhabited by the Irish and Vikings was on the south side of the river. Both were eventually walled and linked by bridges over the Shannon .

Limerick would retain formidable defenses until the 17th century when it experienced four separate sieges during the period of the English Civil War and the Williamite Wars. Catholic rebels forced the English garrison to surrender in 1642 and a Parliamentarian Army in turn forced a Catholic and Royalist garrison to surrender in 1651. It was twice besieged in 1690 and 1691 by the forces of William III of Orange who forced Jacobins fighting on the sides of the Catholic James II to surrender and go into exile.

From the late 17th to the 19th centuries an Anglo-Irish Protestant elite controlled Ireland . In Limerick in the late 1700s Limerick merchants prospered and Edmund Pery, 1st Viscount Pery had much of the south side of the city redesigned with a grid of Georgian brick terraces and neo-classical stone buildings. The Georgian area still survives in the 21st century and Prey Square is named in Edmund Prey’s honour.

Unfortunately the Irish economy declined in the early 19th century as the Irish Parliament was switched from College Green, Dublin to the House of Commons in London and Ireland remained a near feudal agricultural society as Britain rapidly industrialised. Like Dublin , Limerick ‘s best days were behind it as slums flourished and in the 1840s the city population swelled as the poor fled from the land after the failure of the potato crop.


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Additional information

Weight 3 kg
Dimensions 60 × 65 × 8 cm
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