French and Irish officials gathered in Kinsale today to unveil a new plaque, commemorating the bicentenary of the death of General Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes, who died in a tragic shipwreck on the rocks off Garrettstown in 1822.
During his military career in France, Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes was General of Division, Count of Empire, Commander of the Legion of Honor, and Colonel-Major of the Chasseurs à Cheval of the Imperial Guard of the Emperor Napoléon 1st.
He would go on to be recognised in Napoléon’s will, and have his name is engraved on the west pillar of the Arc de Triomphe.
Named a traitor in a royal decree in 1815, after Napoléon’s exile, Lefebvre-Desnouettes was forced to flee France for the US, where he set up a colony in Alabama.
He became President of the colonial society of the vine and olive on land provided by the American Congress and there established “Aigleville” [Eagle City].
French Ambassador to the United States, Hyde de Neuville, described him as “one that calls for admiration; gentleness combined with firmness, and a frank devotion to those whom he had served”.
Informed of a possible permission to return to France, Lefebvre-Desnouettes set sail home from the US several years later, accompanied by his young nephew, 25-year-old Jules Gravet de Riquebourg.
However, both men died on 22 April 1822, in the tragic shipwreck of the Albion, on the rocks off Garrettstown in Ireland.
In memory of the tragic death of her husband, his wife Stéphanie had a tall cenotaph erected at the entrance to the port of Le Havre, to “prevent tragedies by warning of the dangers” of the sea to seafarers and their families.
The commemorative plaque in Kinsale was revealed and inaugurated today afternoon, in Templetrine Cemetery, in Ballinspittle.
The ceremony was attended by Dr. Jérôme Beaucour, President of the Center for Napoleonic Studies; Mr Josselin Le Gall, the Honorary Consul of France and Maritime Affairs; Ms Valérie David-McGonnell, Alliance Française de Cork and AIPLF President; and Reverend Peter Rutherford, Rector of the Kinsale Union Parishes.