Franco-Irish forces

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The remaining regiments of the old Irish Brigade of France were disbanded after the French Revolution in 1789, lost their distinctive red uniforms and were absorbed into the regular French army, although for many years after they were still regarded as ‘Irish regiments’. Although none of them accompanied the Bantry Bay expedition, a number of high-ranking former Irish Brigade officers did. Major-General Oliver Harty from Limerick commanded a unit made up of newly formed, under-strength regiments of Lee and O’Meara, whose ranks were to be swelled by a locally raised cadre. Other senior Irish officers present were Général de Brigade Richard O’Shea from Cork and Lt. Col. Andrew McDonagh from Sligo. A newly activated Irish corps called the Légion Irlandaise (not to be confused with Napoleon’s Irish unit created several years later) did sail that ominous winter, officered by Irishmen or men of Irish descent, dressed in red with facings in green, evoking the famous red-coated Irish Brigade of old, but didn’t register more than one weak battalion.


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