Tour of Leitrim

French in Leitrim

Leitrim's Historic Year

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The arrival of the French The march through Leitrim Tour de Humbert Trail

“The March through Leitrim”

(The Tour de Humbert Trail has a small map which illustrates the march, you can see their march through Leitrim here, the trail is highlighted in blue).

The French crossed from Colloney into Leitrim through Drumahaire. Their artillery was slowing them down so they abandoned most of it here. On the 6th of September, they reached Manorhamilton. It was from there that they turned east through Drumkeerin so that they could join the rebels in the midlands.

They were followed by the British forces under the command of General Lake. These forces continually harassed the Franco-Irish rear columns. At Drumkeerin, an envoy from the Crown Forces came offering an honourable surrender to the French. The French declined and left Drumkeerin the following day, 7th September. They marched along the west side of Lough Allen under the Arigna mountains and they crossed the Shannon near Drumshanbo. Here, they tried to destroy the bridge in order to prevent the English from following, but they somehow failed.

They stayed in Drumshanbo for about an hour, gaining recruits while they were there. They then marched by Lough Scur into Keshcarrigan. From here they continued their march through Castlefore, Fenagh, Gorvagh and on to Cloone. Legend has it that whilst passing by Fenagh a cannoball was fired which resulted in damage to one of the walls in the 'Old Abbey'. Whether it was the French or the English who fired the cannon ball, it remains uncertain. Click on the 'Cannon animation' below to see the effects of the cannon ball.

Click on the above animation to see the 'Old Abbey' at Fenagh

The French arrived at Cloone tired, worn, and hungry. The chains of their remaining cannons were stolen here rendering them useless. Whilst in Cloone, they were treated well by a loyalist whose house they comandeered. General Humbert and his officers dined at the house with the local parish priest and curate. Six bullocks were grilled on the gates of the Prodestant Church for the troops. The villagers at Cloone persuaded Humbert to wait for a day as they promised him 10,000 reinforcements. This turned out to be a mistake as it allowed the Crown Forces to be reinforced.

After the French left Cloone, hundreds of Pikemen arrived, but were dissuaded from following the French by the local Parish Priest who explained to them that it was a lost cause. The Crown Forces had caught up with Humbert. The battle was waged at Ballinamuck, it was a very short affair. The French were given an honourable surrender and were treated as prisoners of war. The Irish were given no such honour, they were hunted down and hung. General Blake, the Irish Commander was caught in a bog and was hanged from the shafts of a cart. The area around Ballinamuck was laid waste by the Crown forces, pillage, plunder, and mayhem were the order of the day.

The surrender at Ballinamuck

The above picture shows the surrender of General Humbert to the English at Ballinamuck