Best Irish FactsFacts on Ireland and the Irish

Battle of the Boyne


Battle of the BoyneThe Battle of the Boyne was a major battle fought during the Williamite-Jacobite War in Ireland.

The Williamite-Jacobite War was a sectarian and ethnic war.

The Williamites wanted to maintain Protestant control of Ireland.

The Jacobites wanted to regain Catholic control of Ireland.

The Williamite army was 36,000 strong.

It was comprised of English, Scots, German, Danish, Dutch, French Huguenots, and Ulster Protestant irregulars.

The Jacobite army was 25,000 strong.

It was comprised of French and Irish troops, and Irish cavalry.

The Williamite army was more experienced and better equipped.

It was not the decisive battle in the war.

The decisive battle occurred at Aughrim, Co. Wicklow one year later.

The Battle of the Boyne gained its importance because William III, who had been declared king of Great Britain and Ireland, faced James II, who was trying to regain the monarchy.

William landed at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim on 14 June, 1690.

He marched south to take Dublin.

He reached the River Boyne on 29 June, 1690.

The battle was fought for control of a ford on the river at Olbridge, near Drogheda, Co. Louth.

The battle began at 6 am when William sent a force, 10,000 strong, in a westward flanking movement which crossed the river at Rossnaree, four miles south-west of Oldbridge.

James overreacted and sent two-thirds of his army with artillery to meet them.

The two forces faced each other across a bog and remained inactive while the battle was fought to the north-east.

The Williamite forces crossed the River Boyne at Oldbridge, and to the east at Drybridge, in three waves between 10 am and midday.

The battle was over by 1 pm as the Jacobites fought a rearguard action.

When the order to retreat came, panic set in and the main Jacobite army fled.

The Williamite army marched into Dublin two days after the battle and the Jacobite army abandoned the city.

James did not stay in Dublin but went on to Duncannon, Co. Wexford where he boarded a ship for France and exile.

James’ conduct during and after the battle had him renamed by his Irish supporters.

From then on he was known as Séamus a Chaca, James the Shithead.

When the battle was fought, Britain and Ireland were still using the Julian calendar (Old Style) which gave the date as 1 July.

The Gregorian calendar (New Style) gave the date as 11 July as it was ten days ahead.

By the time Britain and Ireland adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 the difference was eleven days.

The Battle of the Boyne is therefore celebrated on 12 July.

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