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A Visit to Fontenoy: Exploring a Famous Battlefield |

A Visit to Fontenoy: Exploring a Famous Battlefield

In an article published in the Evening Telegraph, Mr R. Barry O’Brien shares his experience visiting the historic battlefield of Fontenoy. He recounts his journey and the notable positions held by the French and attacked by the Allies during the battle. The village of Saint Antoine, now prosperous and known for its cement manufacture, played a crucial role, as did the hamlet of Fontenoy and the wood of Barri, where the French reserves, including the Irish Brigade, were stationed.

During his visit, Mr O’Brien conversed with a resident Englishman who had heard of the battle of Fontenoy during the Boer War. According to Belgians in the area, the Englishman was told that the English had been defeated on the same plain a hundred and fifty years earlier. Intrigued by these accounts, Mr O’Brien ventured to study the grounds more closely and encountered a labourer and a woman in the fields. The labourer displayed an impressive knowledge of the battle and reconciled his information with the positions on Mr O’Brien’s plan, showcasing a cultivated intelligence.

Accompanied by the labourer, Mr O’Brien reached a rising ground where he was able to observe and inquire about the various landmarks and features of the battlefield. He then walked to the hamlet of Fontenoy, exploring it thoroughly, including the castle that now stands on the site of the original castle present during the battle.

Returning to the plain of Fontenoy the next day, Mr O’Brien examined it from the side of the wood of Barri, trying to locate the specific points where guns were brought forward to counter Cumberland’s advance and where the Irish Brigade engaged the enemy. After considering various factors, he suggests that the area he observed may have been the scene where English and Irish forces clashed, evoking memories of the Battle of Limerick.

In conclusion, Mr O’Brien acknowledges that while some may argue for moving forward and leaving Irish history behind, he believes that others may share the sentiment he experienced during his visit to this renowned battlefield. He suggests that the powerful emotions tied to the site might resonate with fellow Irishmen.

Dublin Evening Telegraph – Saturday 20 August 1904

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