Tour of Leitrim

French in Leitrim

Leitrim's Historic Year

The arrival of the French The march through Leitrim Tour de Humbert Trail

French Soldier
“The Arrival of the French”

On August 22nd three French frigates, having eluded the English ships keeping watch on the shores of Ireland, succeeded in entering Killala Bay and landing at Kilcummin in Mayo with over a thousand of Napoleon’s veterans under the command of General Humbert. Their aim was to assist Irish patriots in the Rebellion of 1798. The invaders were joined by about two thousand Irish recruits and together they captured the towns of Killalla and Ballina. They then proceeded to march on Castlebar. On the 27th of the month the French inflicted a great defeat on the “Red Coats” of General Lake at Castlebar. So swiftly did the English soldiers run from the desperate charge of the French and their Irish allies that the battle is known to this day as “The Races of Castlebar.” The original plan was to march Northwards to Ulster, however Humbert decided to march Eastwards instead as he was lead to believe that the rebels had the Midlands under control. Communications were very slow back then and so he had no idea that this information was old news, as the United Irish had been defeated at Granard. And so, beliving that he would meet up with a strong Irish force he decided to race towards Dublin while the English were unprepared.