Dr Matthew Potter, Dr Mairead Ni Bhriain, Fionan Coughlan at the unveiling of the programme of events 2023 Limerick Bastille Day Wild Geese Festival
The 2023 Limerick Bastille Day Wild Geese Festival, organised by Alliance Française Limerick, is back for the fifth consecutive year with a rich programme of events which was unveiled on Monday
The city’s annual summer festival commemorating Limerick’s Wild Geese heritage and celebrating the friendship between Ireland and France (our closest EU neighbour) will take place on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July.
Dr Loïc Guyon (Honorary Consul of France and founder of the festival) said: “With the other members of the festival’s organising committee (Fionán Coughlan, Michelle Daly-Hayes and Paul O’Brien), we were delighted to unveil today this year’s exciting programme of events, on which we’ve been working together for nearly a year. Since 2019, the festival has grown from strength to strength, has generated national media attention and has become the summer festival Limerick needed. I wish to thank wholeheartedly my fellow organisers and, of course, our two institutional sponsors, five corporate sponsors and the 37 local businesses and community groups which are generously supporting us this year and making it all possible”.
On top of the now traditional animations and historical reenactments in the Hunt Museum garden on the Saturday afternoon (with a special focus this year on the 225th anniversary of the rebellion of 1798, aka “the Year of the French”), one of the highlights of this year’s edition will be a Bastille Day Weekend Banquet at the Milk Market, on the evening of July 15th, with an eight-course menu designed by the crème de la crème of the Limerick food scene (Country Choice, The French Table, Green Acres, Angel Dust Patisserie, Bon Appetit Creperie, Wilde Irish Chocolates and Harpers Coffee), a Wild Geese Art exhibition and a gig by award-winning artist Emma Langford.
Another highlight will be a stunning parade and ceremony supported by the Defence Forces (with, for the first time, the Defence Forces Band travelling to Limerick for the occasion) which will be held on Sunday 16th at 2.30pm at the United Nations Peace Garden, followed by an amazing show of specially commissioned artistic works in Saint Mary’s Cathedral.
The free show will include a new performance of Francis Ward’s 2021 Cuimhnigh ar Sarsfield: The Wild Geese Suite, a poetic-musical tribute to Patrick Sarsfield and the Wild Geese combining music, dance by Scoil Uí Ruairc and lyrics written by Orfhlaith and Mairéad Ní Bhriain.
One of the most anticipated events will be the screening, during that same show, of The Flight of the Wild Geese, a film entirely written, directed, shot on location and produced by teachers Fionnula Bromell and Diarmuid Hickey from Corpus Christi Primary School, Moyross telling the story of the 1690 and 1691 sieges of Limerick and starring fifth-class pupils in the roles of the Jacobites, the French and the Williamites! The festival will end by a farewell to the Wild Geese on the Shannon River organised in partnership with the Curraghour Boat Club and an evening at Mickey Martin’s.
As in previous years, the reenactors from En Garde (the Society for Franco-Irish History) will be a central and colourful feature of many of the festival’s events. This year’s edition will also celebrate Ireland and France’s love of rugby, ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with an initiation to touch rugby organised in partnership with Sarsfields Rugby and a talk on inclusion and diversity in sport at the International Rugby Experience by Rugby World Cup official Tady Walsh. A delegation from the rugby club of Quimper (Limerick’s French sister city) will be travelling here to take part in those events.
A free historical walking tour of the city centre’s main locations connected to the sieges of Limerick will be led by Dr Paul O’Brien on Sunday 2nd July at 3pm, starting from St John’s Square.
Many local businesses and community groups will be supporting this year’s festival. Ahead of the Bastille Day weekend, No 1 Pery Square will organise a French-themed dinner at Sash restaurant for the occasion on wednesday 12 July and Mother Macs will be holding a whiskey and cheese tasting evening on Thursday 13. The Saint Mary’s Prize Band, the Limerick School of Music and musicians from Saint Mary’s Men’s Shed will all be performing during the festival. The 2023 edition is organised with the support of the French Embassy and the Limerick City & County Council’s Festivals & Events Grant Scheme. This year’s official sponsors are Arup, Carelon, Heavey Technology, Saint Gobain and the University of Limerick.