Siege of Limerick
X:1 T:Siege of Limerick M:3/2 L:1/8 N:”Longways for as many as will.” B:John Walsh – Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth B: (London, 1740, No. 94) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Dmin d3ef2d2a4|e3fg2^c2f4|^B3d ^c2e2def2|A2d4^c2d4:|| c3dcBA2ABc2|d3e de f2 ef g2|a2f4 c2d2(cB)|(AB) c4e2f4| a3ba2f2d4|g3ag2e2^c4|f3gf2d2^B2e2|^c2A4^c2d4||
SIEGE OF LIMERICK. English, Country Dance Tune (3/2 time). D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The title refers to an event in the year 1691 when William of Orange invaded Ireland and defeated the native Irish forces. Limerick, an ancient city on the Shannon, was the last bastion of the Jacobite rebels, held by the Earl of Lucan (Patrick Sarsfield) who had broken a siege of the same city by the English the year before. This time, however, the English under General Godert de Ginkel (later the Earl of Athlone) prevailed. The city capitulated, but on terms, and Sarsfield and the Irish were given the choice of taking an oath of allegiance to William and Mary or exile. Many chose exile, to be called the Wild Geese, and Sarsfield was one, fleeing with his very young wife Honora de Burgo. He died a few years later, still in service to King James in France. The melody is a composition of English composer Henry Purcell  (1659-1695), first appearing as part of his incidental music to the The Prophetess, staged in London 1690. The play was an old one, written by Fletcher and Massinger some seventy years before, writes Graham Christian (in CDSS News, issue #190, May/June 2006), but updated with topical and satirical references to the current government’s Irish policies. Henry Playford published the tune in the 9th edition of the Dancing Master (London, 1695) a date which Christian brilliantly links with the exiled, and recently widowed wife of Sarsfield. Honora captivated the French and is credited with introducing English style contra dancing to the French court, where les contredanses anglaises became exceedingly popular. She herself was hailed as “the first flower of her generation…a nymph.” Proving how fickle is such fame, upon the death of her husband Patrick in 1693, Honora quickly fell into extreme poverty in the town of Huy where the family had been living. She was noticed along with her infant son in her distress by the Duke of Berwick, a young Scottish man of means. He became infatuated, placed them under his protection, and eventually married Honora in the same year that Playford published the melody. The tune and county dance instructions were also printed by rival London publisher John Walsh, in The Compleat Dancing Master, editions of 1718, 1731 and 1754.