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A Fight for Napoleon's Dead Horse
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A Fight for Napoleon's Dead Horse

A war has begun between the councilors of Cork and the British military establishment over the horse of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Will it end in a Waterloo for the Irish officials or will Napoleon’s horse be returned back to its home?

Known for carrying Napoleon across many bloody battlefields, despite being wounded on numerous occasions, Marengo lived to the ripe age of 38 and is thus as great a legend as his master.

What is the fight all about?

It all began with the news that the British had placed the skeleton of Marengo, Napoleon’s white charger, in London’s National Army Museum, for display. This struck a chord with the Irish officials who are now demanding that the remains be repatriated back to Ireland.

According to folklore, the famed horse has been sold at the Cahirmee horse fair, held in Buttevant. While this is affirmed by the people in Buttevant, the people belonging to the North Cork village of Bartlemy have disputed this claim.  

The people of Bartlemy assert that the horse was actually sold at a fair in their area. This claim receives support from a ballad written by singer and songwriter John Spillane. The ballad traces the relationship that exists between the Bartleby people and the charger, although the singer has taken some poetic liberties and referred to the stallion as a mare.

At the same time, there are claims that Napoleon may have procured the horse somewhere near Egypt or Syria, however, despite their internal conflicts the people of North Cork remain united in the fact that the Horse is most certainly Irish.  

Adding to the Rich History of Buttevant

A while back, after excavating the main street of the town, about 2,788 artifacts that dated back to the past, were unearthed. These included animal bones, combs, tiles, gold rings going back to 1713, pins, buttons and more. Councilor of Fianna Fail, Bernard Moynihan felt that these discoveries ought to be displayed so tourists visiting the area could learn more about its past.

Other councilors, John O’Shea, Melissa Mullane, Gerard Murphy supported the move to bring Marengo back as this would also go a long way in improving the town’s economy. When asked whether Napoleon’s horse is likely to return, Councillor Mullane said that the fight may need reinforcements.

What are the Councillors demands?

Moynihan who also happens to be chairman of the Kanturk/Mallow municipal council representing the Buttevant area is the one who has taken charge of this attack. He wishes to have Marengo’s skeleton as a centerpiece for display in their museum in order to attract tourists to Buttevant.

Since the small county of Buttevant is full of history, efforts should be carried out to set up rural regeneration projects that could display this vast history of the land.  Councillor Mullane said that the people will be asked to sign a petition asking for Marengo to be returned.

Whether Napoleon’s horse will really be returned is yet to be seen. However, even if he does, although it will be a great victory for this group of councilors, it is not going to be a very pleasant one. It is certain that neighboring municipal councils will stake a claim on Marengo, leading to another civil war.  

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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