Sarsfield’s first citizens were Sèvére D’Aoust, his wife Odile St. Denis and their one-year-old son Gilbert. They arrived from Vaudreuil in 1854 and purchased 100 acres of crown land for $80 at lot 10 on concession 4. Sèvére’s brother Onézime joined them two years later and with Sèvére providing the land and Onézime the wood, together they built the area’s first church. Until it was complete, masses were held in the D’Aoust home.With the impact they had upon the community, small wonder why our village was initially known as D’Aoust’s Corner.
The following has been gleaned from parishioners stories compiled in the 1986 publication “History of the Parish” celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sarsfield’s St. Hughes Church. More on Wikipedia
Roots run deep
Théophile Dessaint, a cobbler, opened a shop beside the church in 1870. Etienne and Phelonise Bertrand arrived in the early 1870s. They purchased 50 acres on lot 11, concession 3 from Anthime St-Denis in 1881. Anthime and his wife Célina Lamothe arrived from St-Isidor-de-Prescott three years earlier, beginning six generations of St-Denis’ in Sarsfield.Antoine Diotte and his wife Mélie Cloutier arrived in Sarsfield in 1880. Eusèbe Lafrance bought 200 acres at lot 4, concession 4 for $900 in 1882, beginning five generations of the Lafrance family in Sarsfield. A 28-year-old Pierre Giroux, his wife, Melvina Lefèbvre and Pierre’s father Barthélémie were looking for a new life and a shorter mailing address when they moved here from St. Chrysostome de Chateauguay in 1883.Tommy Morris and his wife Mary Ann Sullivan were the first couple to be married in the newly formed parish of Sarsfield in March 8, 1886.
“Boarding house reach”
Large families were a sign of the times. Severe D’Aoust’s family numbered nine. The Anthime and Célina St-Denis marriage produced eleven. One of the largest was the Potvins. Donat Potvin and Maria Bélisle married in 1907 and had twelve sons and two daughters … enough to ice two hockey teams, including goalies … with the girls as the first two-referee system?
Six degrees of Michael O’Meara
Given the French-Canadian history outlined above, it’s interesting how a pair of Irish postmasters held sway in the day to give Sarsfield and nearby Navan their names.Michael O’Meara emigrated from Ireland in 1850. He settled on a farm outside present-day Navan and opened a post office. He later moved the post office to a crown building in the village and named it Navan after his home town Navan in County Meath near Dublin.The Sarsfield connection?Michael’s daughter Ellen married Thomas Delaney and the couple moved three miles east of Navan. On December 1, 1874 they opened the first Post Office there and called the place Sarsfield after Irish military hero, Patrick Sarsfield (see below).Fast forward 125 years. Remember Ellen? Her sister Catherine married Michael Kenny, who’d emigrated to Canada on the same ship as her father. Michael and Catherine Kenny had seven children, including Harry Kenny, who was born in 1868. Harry Kenny is the father of Frank Kenny, a township councillor for eight years … and whose name adorns the recently completed road running north-south between Sarsfield and Navan, connecting Orleans to Highway #417 at Vars.
He was born at Lucan near Dublin, about 1650 and died at Huy in Belgium in August 1693. His grandfather, Rory O’Moore, led the Irish rebellion in 1641, an attack that antagonized England and brought about the invasion of Cromwell.Sarsfield served in the army of King Louis XIV of France from 1671-1678. After James II accession to the English throne in 1685 Sarsfield served under James’ commander in Ireland, Richard Talbot. When James was deposed and left for France in 1688, Sarsfield followed him and subsequently landed with him at Kinsale in the following year. In 1689 Sarsfield captured Sligo and secured all Connaught for the king. It was in the early months of the war against William III that Sarsfield distinguished himself. He was a cavalry commander and later was promoted to major general. After defeat at the battle of the Boyne and James II departure to France, Sarsfield rallied the defeated army to lead the defence of Limerick. More >>
It was largely through Sarsfield that Limerick was defended so well, and it was he who destroyed William’s siege train in 1690, the most brilliant exploit of the whole war. James II was so well pleased with him that he named him Earl of Lucan. In the campaign of 1690 Sarsfield held a subordinate position under St. Ruth, who allowed him no active share in the battle at Aughrim. When St. Ruth fell, Sarsfield could not turn defeat into victory, but he saved the Irish from utter destruction. In the second siege of Limerick he led the defenders but found prolonged resistance impossible. Sarsfield assented to the Treaty of Limerick, which ended the war.
Shortly after he signed the treaty, a French fleet arrived with reinforcements. Many of them urged Sarsfield to tear up the treaty and fight on. This he would not do and, having given his word of honour, he kept it. Believing they had negotiated a treaty that guaranteed the rights of their people, perhaps as many as twenty thousand Irish soldiers sailed with Sarsfield to France. The treaty Sarsfield committed to, was torn up by the English and replaced with the Penal Laws. Irish Catholics were stripped of their land, persecuted for their religion and denied every right of citizenship. On this note of dishonour and betrayal began the saga of “The Wild Geese” (Irish expatriates who fought for the Catholic powers of Europe, especially France, from the late 17th to the early 20th centuries).
Sarsfield joined the army of France, leading the Irish Brigade. At Landen in 1693, he commanded the left wing of Luxembourg’s army, and there received his death wound. Legend has it that as he lay mortally wounded he put his hand to his wound. Seeing it covered with blood, he lamented, “Would that this were for Ireland.” He was carried to Huy where he lingered for a few days and died.Although not a native of the city, Sarsfield has always been remembered by the citizens of Limerick as a local hero and adopted as one of their own. Along with the sport of rugby and the river Shannon, the name Patrick Sarsfield is synonymous with the city. Near King John’s Castle there is a monument called the Treaty Stone (left) on which it is reputed the failed Treaty of Limerick was signed. In addition to Sarsfield Street and Sarsfield Bridge there is a monument (above right) in his memory at Cathederal Place near St. Johns Cathederal.Source: Limerick’s Patrick Sarsfield Celtic Supporters Club website.
In the navy
The next time you gaze at the Sarsfield countryside amidst the windswept sea of corn, wheat or whatever, look very closely. You may see … a destroyer? The U.S.S Sarsfield to be precise.The DD-837 Sarsfield was built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine and launched May 27, 1945. She’s 390 feet long and 40 feet wide. Top speed is 36.8 knots. Her range is 4500 nautical miles at 20 knots. Our town could run this boat, as she has a crew of 336. Unfortunately, on October 1, 1977 the U.S. sold the Sarsfield to Taiwan. She has since been renamed Te Yang.Evidently the Taiwanese haven’t heard of Michael O’Meara.