The great paradox of Irish history is that because of it there are more Irishmen and Irishwomen living in the United States of America, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, in South America and in Great Britain, than there are living in the Emerald Isle today. The historian, Lord Macaulay, wrote of the Irish Diaspora, "there were Irish of great ability, energy, and ambition, but they were to be found everywhere except in Ireland: at Versailles, and at St. Ildefonso, in the armies of Frederick and in the armies of Maria Teresa. One exile became a marshal of France, another became Prime Minister of Spain.
Lecky, in Volume II of his famous History of England, gives a fascinating list of Irishmen who attained ranks of dignity and honour in literally every kingdom of Europe:
"Abroad there was hardly a Catholic country where Irish exiles or their children might not be found in posts of dignity and honour. Lord Clare became Marshal of France. Browne, who was one of the very ablest Austrian generals, and who took a leading part in the first period of the Seven Years' War, was the son of Irish parents; and Maguire, Lacy, Nugent and O'Donnell were all prominent generals in the Austrian service during the same war. Another Browne, a cousin of the Austrian Commander, was Field Marshal in the Russian service and Governor of Riga. Peter Lacy, who also became a Russian Field Marshal, and who earned a reputation as one of the finest soldiers of his time, was of Irish birth. . . . And so on, and so forth.
Surely some of the most prophetic words concerning Ireland and her people were written by Thomas Davis, the Poet of The Nation, in the concluding lines of his poem The Battle Eve of the Brigade, about the "Wild Geese" fighting for Louis of France, under the command of Count Thomond:
"For in far foreign fields, from Dunkirk to Belgrade, Lie the soldiers and chiefs of The Irish Brigade. "