A group dedicated to locating and repatriating the remains of Patrick Sarsfield - who led the Jacobite army during the siege of Limerick in 1691 - have made further progress following two years of research.

The Sarsfield Homecoming Project is led by French Honorary Consul in Limerick Dr Loïc Guyon, Head of the Department of French studies at Mary Immaculate College, along with Alliance Francais Limerick.

Dr Guyon launched the project in 2020 with the aim of trying to locate, identify and repatriate Sarsfield's remains to Ireland.

Sarsfield, also known as the 1st Earl of Lucan, played a pivotal role in wars of 1690, the siege of Limerick in 1691 leading the army of King James against the Williamite army at the city's famous King John's Castle and in negotiating the famous treaty of Limerick in 1691 which ended that war.

Following the signing of the treaty over 10,000 Irish Jacobite soldiers and their families fled in exile to France, known in history as the Flight of the Wild Geese, and many including Sarsfield, went on to fight for France in wars against Britain.

Sarsfield was badly injured and died in the battle of Landen in 1693 and was believed to be buried in Belgium.

Many descendants of the Wild Geese went on to become prominent families throughout French society down the centuries, families such as the McMahons, Quins, McCarthys, Clarkes and Lynches.

Dr Guyon has also initiated the Wild Geese festival which takes place in Limerick around Bastille day on 14 July each year and which celebrates and marks this long historic connection between Ireland and France.

Patrick Sarsfield, the 1st Earl of Lucan

Dr Guyon has established that Sarsfield was buried at the Church of Saint Martin d'Outre-Meuse in Huy in Belgium.

His further study of the parish registers has revealed that a total of 24 people were buried inside the church over the relevant 106 years, but of the 24, only 10 were men of the same age group as Sarsfield, eight of whom have been identified.

In addition they were all buried individually which will assist the work of archaeologists.

An archaeological excavation of the site at the church is the next stage of the Sarsfield Homecoming Project who have now engaged the Limerick based Aegis Archaeology company who have experience of such excavations in both Ireland and Europe, to further help the project.

Dr Guyon said: "We are awaiting authority from the local Walloon government, which is the local authority in Belgium, to begin our work on excavation and I am confident we will get it.

"The authorities in Huy have been very encouraging in our work about locating and identifying the remains of Patrick Sarsfield.

"We could get it by this summer as the work must be done during the warm dry season, but if not we will begin the work in the summer of 2024.

"We aim to raise around €90,000 in funding to carry out the work, but we will endeavour to do so by a crowdfunding and sponsorship campaign.

"While the first aim of the Sarsfield Homecoming Project is to find and repatriate the remains of Patrick Sarsfield, a secondary aim has always been to bring Sarsfield and the whole historical episode of the Flight of the Wild Geese back into the spotlight and educate, particularly the younger generation, about this important part of Limerick’s history and the history of the ties between Ireland and France."