The Irish Brigade in South Africa


Major John MacBride’s firsthand account of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in which he fought as soldier and commander of the three-hundred strong Transvaal Irish Brigade in the service of the Boer Republics against the British Empire.

First serialised in 1906-7 and now published in print as a dedicated volume for the first time.

MacBride’s memoir is accompanied by the Call to Arms issued to recruit volunteers, text taken from Lectures on the Irish Brigade given by MacBride, and MacBride’s Tribute to Colonel Blake, the first in command of the Brigade, after his death.

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Ár dTír, Ár Muintir, Ár dTeanga – Our land, our people, our language.

It was 1899. John MacBride was an emigrant living in Johannesburg, one of the many Irish uitlanders who sought employment in the mining trade in the Transvaal when the Second Boer War was declared.

He would issue a proclamation to the Irish of the Transvaal to establish a brigade, to fight in defence of the independence of the Boer Republics against the shared enemy of both the Irish and the Boers: Britain.

The Transvaal Irish Brigade, one of the many foreign volunteer commando units that served under the Boers, was comprised of 300 men, first-generation Irish uitlanders, Boers of Irish descent and Irish-American uitlanders alike.

The brigade was operational for eleven months, fighting in some of the key engagements of the war, from the siege of Ladysmith, to the decisive Boer victories at Colenso and Spion Kop, to the turning of the tide at Pieter’s Hill and finally to the last stand of the Irish Brigade at Bergendal.

Weight 236 g
Dimensions 198 × 130 × 11 mm