Men of Action: Ireland Triumph At 6 Nations


Brian O’Driscoll raises the 6 Nations trophy after Ireland’s victory in 2009 (Photo by Arun Marsh via Flickr Creative Commons)

Last weekend was a big one for the Irish. Ireland’s big win of the RBS Six Nations tournament kick-started the St Patrick’s Day celebrations!

But this was a hard fought victory. Ireland headed into their final game needing a win against France. Only a win would ensure the team was clutching the trophy come St Patrick’s Day.

After a strong performance from France in the first quarter, Ireland fought back to crush this early lead. Jonathan Sexton scored two tries and the team continued to fight off a French retaliation. In the end Ireland secured their second Six Nations victory, beating France 22-20!

This was Brian O’Driscoll’s last international game, and what a fairytale ending for him.

‘It is great to finish my career on a high,’ O’Driscoll said. ‘When I do hang this jersey up on the hook inside it will be with fond memories’.

‘The emotions are starting to kick in now. It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner’.

In 2009 Brian O’Driscoll captained Ireland to win the Six Nations and a second victory is long deserved.

‘It’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve played a long time for Ireland and to only have won one Six Nations championship would have been disappointing so I’m really delighted for this group of players, for how talented they are, how hard they worked’.

Now is the time that the emotions will flow. The team was welcomed back to a huge crowd in Dublin, with the win marking one of the best starts to St Patrick’s Day in recent years. For the Ireland team and many of the fans, the victory will be bittersweet following O’Driscoll’s retirement from international games.

St Patrick’s Day 2014: It’s A Long Way To The Tipperary But Our Heart’s Right There

P1010677The Tipperary is the oldest Irish pub in London. Steeped in Irish heritage, it has been a haven for Wild Geese for hundreds of years and a remarkable taste of home. And now we’ve flocked behind the bar! Yes, The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey* is now served in London’s oldest Irish pub, just in time for St Patrick’s Day!

The Tipperary was first built in 1300, on the side of a monastery where the monks brewed ale.

In 1605 it was transformed into ‘The Boar’s Head’. It’s stood the test of time, surviving the Great Fire of London having been built of stone and brick, rather then wood.

It came under Irish ownership in around 1700, becoming the first Irish pub outside of Ireland. It was fitted out in traditional Irish style, including a clock by Thomas Tompion.

Following the First World War, the printers returning from the war had the pub named ‘The Tipperary’, inspired by the war song, ‘It’s A Long Way’, and the name remains today.

Today The Tipperary is run by Steve Rowlands, who has a huge passion for fine spirits. The interior retains the original Irish character and behind the bar now sits The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Collection. It’s a great place to enjoy The Wild Geese this St Patrick’s Day!


The Tipperary’s owner Steve Rowloands with The Wild Geese Collection*

** Outside North America The Wild Geese Soldiers & Heroes Irish Whiskey Collection is sold under the ‘brand name’ of ‘The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Collection’

St Patrick’s Day 2014: Meeting Today’s Wild Geese

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day we’ve met some of today’s Wild Geese, who have reflected on what it means to be Irish abroad.

In 1691 Patrick Sarsfield and his followers left Ireland. They took the name ‘The Wild Geese’ in the hope and belief that they would one day return. Although many did not see Ireland again, they kept Ireland in their hearts while they achieved extraordinary feats in their host communities.

This story continues today with Wild Geese still making valuable contributions while living and working away from Ireland. Full of ambition and determination, their Untamed Irish spirit shine through.

Meet some today’s Wild Geese in London! Cormac Redmond, Ian McKeown, Vashit Curran and Mick Kelly who work at the famous Waxy O’Connor’s and Karen Houlihan and Robert Murray from the stylish Bentley Oyster Bar & Grill, who were good enough to share their own stories with us.

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Men of Action: 4000th Win Rockets McCoy to Sports Personality of the Year

Tony_mccoyIrish jockey Tony McCoy must be used to winning by now, but when he was announced as RTE’s Irish Sports Personality of the Year at the end of December, there was a great sense of consensus for the decision.

The 18 time champion jockey has been a powerful ambassador for Irish sports and horse racing throughout his 22 year career, but back in November 2013 he rode his 4000th win! Riding Mountain Tunes at Towcester in the UK, the Antrim native took a moment to contemplate his successful career:

‘It really was the first time that I felt really proud and happy for what I’d achieved and felt brave enough to say that I was proud of what I’d achieved’

This 4000th win rocketed him into the public eye and he soon won nominations for the RTE  and BBC Sports Personalities of the Year, awards that recognise the skill and determination of sportsmen. He came third in the BBC contest (won by tennis player Andy Murray), but a week later he won the Irish award.

‘It’s great,’ he said, ‘and a fantastic honour to win such a prestigious award here at home’

But like The Wild Geese before him, this level of success does not mean an easy ride from here on out. His 4000th win and the Sports Personality Award have exhilarated him and he’s now set his sights on 5000 wins going into 2014! His ambition is unyielding. Just like Wild Geese throughout the centuries.

Men of Action: Ireland Makes ‘Huge Impact’ On Astronaut


Ireland has always been a beacon of beauty and wonder. When Patrick Sarsfield and his followers left in 1691, they took the name ‘The Wild Geese’ in the hope and belief that they would one day return. For The Wild Geese, Ireland was always in their hearts and motivated their courageous actions.

When Chris Hadfield journeyed into space on his last mission, he experienced this connection from a different perspective:

‘The first glimpse you get of earth after you launch in a space shuttle from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida is the green of Ireland. It is a wonderful sight when the sun shines through the cloud and you see a green, green jewel, after all the blue of the Atlantic’

Like The Wild Geese, Hadfield is a pioneer in his own right. Born in Canada, Chris’s ambition was fueled when he watched Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk in 1969. He couldn’t shake that ambition, and even though Canada did not have a space programme until 1983, his mind was made up and his path was chosen. He trained in the Canadian air force and was eventually selected as one of four recruits for the country’s space programme.

‘It’s absurd,’ Hadfield admits, ‘but not impossible. But we’re human and that’s what we do. And so I figured, what the heck, it interests me’. Now having returned from his final space mission, he had made it.

And it was on his final space mission that he found a connection to Ireland after posting famous images of the country from space:

‘Looking down from my perch in space, Ireland was just a tiny speck on the western fringes of Europe, yet managed to have a huge impact as I orbited the earth’


Chris Hadfield’s photo of Dublin from the International Space Station


Galway from the International Space Station

He soon found that this was a two way dialogue and Irish people from all over the world wanted to connect with him.

‘Sharing emotions and language with the Irish people was phenomenal. The warm gush of acceptance that I experienced on this space flight was special’

While viewing Ireland hundreds of miles above the earth, Hadfield contemplated the legend of The Wild Geese:

‘A lot of young Irish people have emigrated, but it is possible to be proud and remember where you are from… you can never take away that feeling of home’

Chris Hadfield’s comments come from his extract in ‘The Gathering – Reflections on Ireland’, a book from The Irish Hospice Association. He will be visiting his new found friends in Ireland this December when he travels to Dublin.

Wild Geese Stories: Ireland’s Cheeky Blinder


‘Perfect cheekbones, even better acting’ is how The UK’s Telegraph describes Cillian Murphy’s role in his latest drama series Peaky Blinders. It captures his majesty appropriately, referencing one of his trademarks and rising career.

Originally from Cork, Ireland, this Wild Geese has traversed both independent film and Hollywood blockbusters, and whatever his role – whether it’s surviving a zombie apocalypse or going head-to-head with Robert De Niro – the Irish actor always leaves a lasting impression.

Although he’s worked with some of the big screens most prominent talents, he plays it cool when meeting them for the first time:

‘Until I was 20, I was in a band and wanted to be a musician,’ Murphy admits. ‘So I can be an excited fan around rock stars. But with other actors, you have to be professional and work with them. I’ve been in movies with Robert De Niro and felt a bit star-struck, but he was charming and encouraging so we go through the day’

Cillian Murphy has been a fan of gangster films such as Goodfellas, so it’s not surprising that he stars in the BBC drama Peaky Blighters, which has a huge Scorsese influence. Hailed as an effective combination of ‘style and substance’, Murphy’s lead role proves that he is determined to walk his own path while building his career. Before his jump to the screen, Murphy’s band ‘The Sons of Mr Greengenes’ was offered a five-album deal. But believing that the deal wasn’t favourable for them, the band declined. Like Patrick Sarsfield, other horizons were beckoning Murphy.

Today producers are lucky to be able to add ‘starring Cillian Murphy’ to their posters. Peaky Blinders marks a new chapter in his career, shifting back into the lead role. The Telegraph writes:

‘Most importantly, Cillian Murphy as Tommy never faltered, his strange, speaking eyes have been the fulcrum round which all else has spun. Peaky Blinders has surely been Murphy’s finest hour’

Men of Action: Patrick Sarsfield and The Wild Geese

the battle of the boyne

Patrick Sarsfield’s army is defeated at the decisive Battle of The Boyne. From this point on, his attempt to oust the English and place James II on the throne were doomed.

Sarsfield had to decide what to do next and although his heart wanted to fight on, his head knew he had run out of options.

He signed the Treaty of Limerick, which allowed Sarsfield and his men to march out of town with military honours.

In November and December 1691, fleets of ships anchored at Limerick and Cork to take the Irish soldiers to their new lives in France. Believing they had secured freedom for their people, Sarsfield and his followers boarded the ships and journeyed to France.

They took the name The Wild Geese in the hope and belief that this would be a temporary strategic exile in Europe.

francis wild geese

This was the legendary moment that echoes throughout the centuries. The Flight of The Wild Geese.

Wherever you are in the world, if you are of Irish descent you are part of this story and entitled to call yourself Wild Geese.

Men of Action: Wild Geese Hope To Soar At World Championship

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Wild Geese have always longed to share their achievements abroad with home. When they left Ireland in 1691, Patrick Sarsfield and his followers dreamed they would return home. Although many did not, today their dream is realised by Irish talent in all fields.

This weekend Ireland’s boxing team leave for the World Championships held in Kazakhstan with hopes of bring home medals.

One of the leading members of the team is Paddy Barnes who is confident that this will be an opportunity to make a serious impact in the boxing community.

Barnes has already won Olympic, European and Commonwealth medals and his regarded as the best amateur boxer in his native Northern Ireland. He is the world no. 3 and the only major medal missing from the list is a World Championship and Barnes hopes to remedy that in Kazakhstan.

‘I’d be really happy with a medal because it’s the only one I’ve never got, I think this is my year’

‘You’re always training for a gold medal, anything else and you’re second best. But for me, I’d be really happy with a World medal’

A medal win in Kazakhstan may be a turning point for Barnes and present an opportunity to go pro. Despite his success, barnes has not been approached with a professional contract and he’s hoping a win at the World Championship will change that.

But the World Championships are the toughest boxing tournament out there and Barnes is going to have to be on his A game. Fortunately, like the original Wild Geese in 1691, camaraderie runs through the Irish team and their coach, Billy Walsh, thinks it could be his year as well:

‘Paddy is in great shape, he has been working very hard and if he performs to his best there’s no reason why he can’t get a medal’

Over the summer, Barnes took home a silver medal from the European Championship, narrowly missing out on the finals due to injury. Next year he’s also planning to train for Rio 2016 and add to his Olympic medal wins.

Men of Action: Wild Geese At The Battle of Fontenoy

In every part of the world, in every major conflict, the Irish have demonstrated their loyalty to their adopted homeland. The successes continued in their descendants, who went on to achieve so much, especially in France where The Wild Geese first landed in 1691.

In France they often attained the highest ranks, integrating fully into French society. Today their names are emblazoned on the monuments and boulevards of Paris.

One of these Parisian boulevards is Place de Fontenoy, named after the famous battle, in which Wild Geese played a significant role.

The Battle of Fontenoy
In 1745 France was engaged in the War of the Austrian Succession. On an battlefield near Tournai, French troops were struggling to hold their defensive lines against Britain’s Duke of Cumberland.

That was until their reserve troops arrived. Amongst them was the Irish Brigade. The infantry regiments of Dillion, Berwick, Burkeley, Clare, Lally, and Roth charged into battle shouting ‘Cuimhaigidh are Luimnech!’ – ‘Remember Limerick!’.

Limerick was where Patrick Sarsfield and his followers left Ireland in 1691. Its shores were most likely fresh in the memories of these Wild Geese as they stormed the battlefield. For many, the shores of Limerick were a link to home, the last time they had seen their beloved Ireland. Each battle they believed would bring them a step closer to home.

The arrival of the Irish Brigade was a game changer. The Duke of Cumberland could no longer push past the French defences. The Irish regiments captured fifteen cannons and the Berkley regiment courageously captured the flag of the retreating British Guards.

The victory at Fontenoy is won of the most revered in French history. Napoleon would later declare that this victory prolonged the Ancien Regime monarchy by 30 years.

To commemorate the contribution of the brave soldiers of the Irish Brigade, the Celtic Cross was erected on the battlefield in 1907. The cross remembers those who fought at the Battle of Fontenoy and the Treaty of Limerick, signed in that fateful year 1691.

The world remembers the actions of The Wild Geese.



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Wild Geese Support Home Grown Entrepreneurs


When The Wild Geese left Ireland in 1691, they believed they were securing securing the freedom of the country. They held their heads high as they boarded ships at Limerick having chosen exile for the good of their people.

Inspired by their courage and commitment to Ireland, we are contributing to Donegal’s Back To Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme. In tough economic times, it’s important to display the same camaraderie as Patrick Sarsfield and his followers.

Named ‘The Wild Geese Enterprise Award’ this scheme will help generate local business and help to revitalise the local economy. The Wild Geese Company Chairman, Mr. Andre Levy explains:

‘The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey celebrates the courage and determination of the Irish people when faced with adversity, and their successes and achievements. It’s important that we also celebrate and encourage local individuals in Ireland who have fought through hardship to succeed. Schemes such as The Back To Work Enterprise Allowance in Donegal, where unemployment has been a major problem, offer the support and advice needed to allow individuals to forge their own path in business in Ireland rather than overseas’

The CEO of the Donegal Local Development Company Ltd, Dr Caoimhím Mac Aoidh, adds:

‘DLDC is delighted to accept this considerable and most generous sponsorship support from The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey. We recognise their sponsorship of The Wild Geese Enterprise Award is acknowledgement and admiration for the participants of the Back To Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme who have shown great courage and tenacity in setting up their businesses in such challenging times. Our partnership with The Wild Geese in this instance is an excellent one as that company has similarly proven to have great business acumen in developing their company and product range’

The first Wild Geese Enterprise Award will be presented in early 2014.
Find out more about the Back To Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme here: