The Pope’s Irish Battalion

Officer’s Mess, Custume Barracks – 8.15pm, Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Talk by Robert Doyle

Ireland and the Papal army

The Company of Saint Patrick in the Papal Army, 1860

Summary – For a nation that cherishes its history, it is remarkable how little is known in Ireland about Irish involvement in the Papal War of 1860. Although identifiable Irish units existed within the British army, this was a unique situation for that era, as fledgling Irish recruits fought with bravery and aplomb in Italy alongside men from Europe’s military super-powers.

They garnered praise from all, friend and foe, who witnessed their actions. However, to the victors the spoils, and, understandably, surviving statues and memorials in Italy only honour those who achieved Italian reunification. Although treated like heroes on their return to Ireland, the deeds of the Battalion of St. Patrick have dissipated with the passing of time. However, as American historian, Brian C. Pohanka, once insightfully remarked, ‘Without memory, we have no deeds’.

Speaker – A public health official by necessity and historian by vocation, Robert Doyle is a native of Baltinglass, Co Wicklow. He has studied the life and career of Myles Keogh for many years and is the co-creator of He is also a frequent speaker on military history, has written for popular history periodicals including, Military Illustrated and History Ireland and is a contributing editor for the Irish heritage website,

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