Irish Squadron (Royal Navy)

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Irish Squadron
Navy Royal Blue Ensign 1630 to 1707.gif
Blue Ensign of the English Navy (1625-1707)
Active1689 - 1731
Country United Kingdom
BranchRoyal Navy
TypeDetached Squadron
RoleConvoy Protection, Transportation, Patrol
Garrison/HQMilford Haven, Wales
Greenock, Scotland

The Irish Squadron [1] previously known as the Irish Guard Naval Squadron of Parliament (1642-1653),[2] was a series of temporary naval formations assembled for specific military campaigns of the Navy Royal, the Commonwealth Navy and later the Royal Navy from 1689 to 1731.


English Monarch's formed temporary naval formations for particular naval campaigns off west coast of England in the Irish Sea from the thirteenth to seventeenth century. An Irish Fleet was in operation from 1297 to 1415. In sixteenth a naval formation for the Irish Sea was reformed the Irish Squadron of the Navy Royal this was raised during Anglo-Scottish Wars (1539-1545). In 1571 the Irish Squadron operated during Desmond Rebellions (1569–1573) and again in (1579–1583), its commander during these periods was Admiral Sir William Wynter in 1579 he was authorized to cut off all sea routes into Ireland and seize all ships of the pending papal invasion force.[3] In 1616 it was formed again under the command of Sir Thomas Button.

At the start English Civil War in 1642 the Navy Royal came under the control of Parliament of England its squadron operating from Milford Haven was renamed the Irish Guard Naval Squadron of Parliament (1642-1653) it was active during Oliver Cromwell's expedition to Ireland in 1649.[4] It operated only during two specific time periods three months during the summer and three months during the winter. The strength of the squadron varied in size but did reach a peak of 56 ships in 1645 making it the navy's second largest squadron.[5] In July 1689 the Irish Squadron of the now Royal Navy was engaged at the Battle of Bantry Bay under the command George Rooke he remained in control of the squadron until early 1690. The squadron then reformed in June 1690 when it took part in the Capture of Waterford under the command of Rear-Admiral Cloudesley Shovell until June 1690. In 1691 it was part of a larger naval force assembled to transfer King William III to Ireland.[6][7]

As the Irish Squadron entered the eighteenth century it was formed in July 1727 and again in July 1731 but it was gradually wound down in terms of ship numbers assigned to it before being disbanded.[8] It would not be until 1758 that the British Admiralty established a permanent naval command for the Irish Sea known as the Ireland Station.

The squadrons operating base for the majority of its existence was from Milford Haven, Wales for operations in the Irish Sea and off the Coast of Ireland. By the end of the 1680s it was stationed at Greenock, Scotland.[9]. Its repair and resupply bases in Ireland included Kinsale Dockyard in County Cork.

In command

Note:Incomplete list of post holders include.

No. rank name date/s appointed as ref
1. Rear-Admiral of the Red George Rooke 1689–1690 Commanding the Irish Squadron [10]
2. Rear-Admiral of the Blue Cloudesley Shovell 1690–1691 Commanding the Irish Squadron [11]

Squadron composition

The Irish Squadron as 1 September 1689.[12]

# type notes ref
7 Fourth-Rate Ships of the Line, 46-60 guns [13]
2 Fifth-Rate Frigates, 40 guns [14]
15 Sixth-Rate Frigates, 28 guns [15]
Total Ships: 24


  1. Davies, J. D. (2008). "Convoys, Cruisers and Station Ships". Pepys Navy, Ships, Men and Warfare 1649 to 1689. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. p. 245. ISBN 9781848320147.
  2. Fortescue, Sir John; Plummer, Charles (1999). The Governance of England, Otherwise Called, The Difference Between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy. Clark, New Jersey, USA: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. p. 238. ISBN 9781886363793.
  3. Joyce, Patrick Weston (1910). "The Geraldine Rebellion - Concise History of Ireland". National Library of Ireland. p. 404. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  4. Lenihan, Pádraig (2000). Conquest and Resistance: War in Seventeenth-Century Ireland. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishing. p. 174. ISBN 9789004117433.
  5. Murphy, Elaine (2012). Ireland and the War at Sea, 1641-1653. Woodbridge, England: Boydell & Brewer Ltd. pp. 91–92. ISBN 9780861933181.
  6. Meredith, Jon (January 2009). "THE ENGLISH NAVY IN AN IRISH WAR: CAPTAIN GEORGE ROOKE'S SQUADRON AND THE JACOBITE WAR IN IRELAND, SUMMER 1689". The Mariner's Mirror. 95 (2): 179–193. doi:10.1080/00253359.2009.10657095.
  7. Yonge, Charles Duke (1863). The History of the British Navy: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time. London, England: Richard Bentley. p. 106.
  8. Rodger, N.A.M. (7 September 2006). "Appendix III: Fleets". The command of the ocean : a naval history of Britain 1649-1815 (1st ed.). London, England: Penguin. pp. 610–617. ISBN 9780141026909.
  9. Meredith, Jon (January 2009). "The English Navy in an Irish War: George Rookes Squadron and the Jacobite War in Ireland, Summer 1689". The Mariner's Mirror. 95 (2): 179–193. doi:10.1080/00253359.2009.10657095.
  10. Meredith. pp.179-193.
  11. Meredith. pp.179-193.
  12. Meredith, Jon (January 2009). "THE ENGLISH NAVY IN AN IRISH WAR: CAPTAIN GEORGE ROOKE'S SQUADRON AND THE JACOBITE WAR IN IRELAND, SUMMER 1689". The Mariner's Mirror. 95 (2): 183. doi:10.1080/00253359.2009.10657095.
  13. Meredith. p.183.
  14. Meredith. p.183.
  15. Meredith. p.183.