The Connaught Rangers

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In 1793 Portumna was the place of the raising of the famous Connaught Rangers, often known as the “The Devils Own” and the “88th Foot”. This world-famous regiment had its first gathering of recruits under the Clanricarde standard at Portumna Castle. It is now well over three hundred years since the regiment was raised and almost one hundred since its disbandment, but they are still arguably the most famous of the Irish Regiments and are still held in high esteem, an honoured name, among the Regiments of the British Army. The Connaught Rangers were crack troops in Wellington’s army and excelled at close quarter hand to hand fighting. They served in Picton’s 3rd Division in the Peninsular alongside the 45th Foot (Nottinghamshire’s) and 74th Highlanders. They also had the reputation of being the worst “plunderers” in the British Army. In the words of Arthur Bryant, the military historian: “The 88th were a tough crowd from the bogs of western Ireland with a bad reputation for filching Portuguese chickens and goats. But they were born fighters and their Scottish Colonel Alexander Wallace had made them one of the crack regiments of the army”.