Dr Lynch’s Military Career Part 2

The Franco-Prussian War & Onward Travels

On 25th July 1870, France had declared war on Prussia, and while the French were confident, the Prussians were much more efficient. The French had invaded Prussia initially but were soon forced backwards and during August 1870 were defeated time after time.

By 16th August 1870, one third of the French army (180,000) were trapped in the fortress city of Metz while attempting to break through. Napoleon III was defeated at Sedan on September 2nd and was captured with 104,000 of his men.

Three Zouave senior officers, some other officers and other enlisted men went by French Frigate to Toulon to join the French Army in the Franco-Prussian war. Having no time to obtain new uniforms, they fought in their Zouave uniforms. Once the French ship reached Toulon it took some time for the French Government to decide what to do with the men, and in the meantime many more French Zouaves had arrived, and they disembarked on 25th September 1870.

The Zouaves were involved in more fighting as the various battles ebbed and flowed in the following months. They achieved notoriety for their fierce fighting and their great discipline in battle.∗

Unfortunately we do not know where Dómhnall fought with the French Zouaves, however we know that he was held prisoner for some time before being released in 1873 and given free passage to the United States by a grateful French government by means of compensation.


His papers of release from the detention camp and his discharge papers from the French Army are still in existence today.



It is known that Dómhnall was promoted within the army ranks due to his bravery and efficiency while fighting, and a photograph exists of him in the uniform of the Pope’s Army.


The question is asked why did he enlist in the French Army?

Well the Irish had great support for the French in this war, and when the Prussians defeated the French they imposed a fine of £40 million on them. The people of Ballyvourney did not like this, and they gathered £39 to help pay the tax. When Duke Charles visited as a representative of the French Government, it was a great day for the people of Ballyvourney. It was a big day in Muskerry with lots of music and lively orations in Irish and French, the latter thanking the people of Ballyvourney for their support.

∗ Reference: “The Popes Legion” ~ The Multinational Fighting Force that Defended the Vatican (2008) by Charles A. Coulombe. Published by Palgrave Macmillan 2008.

Onward Travels

On arrival in the United States it is believed Dómhnall worked on the construction of railways near New York and from there he went to New Mexico during a Gold Rush.

He spent some time gold mining at Klondyke in the Rockies and also in New Mexico. The story goes that he succeeded in making a lot of money at that time. He lived for 6 months with the Native Indians in the Rockies and it was reported that he smoked the Pipe of Peace with the Indian Chief during that time.

He eventually returned to Ballyvourney in 1876.


Information compiled by Jerry Lynch, Riversdale House, Bishopstown.