Kilmaine is a village in south County Mayo, Ireland. Lands around the village had once been the property of the family of Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine. de Kilmaine was born in Ireland but moved to France at the age of eleven. He became a celebrated general in the French army. He served with distinction in the American War of Independence and the French Revolutionary Wars. de KIlmaine was a friend of Wolfe Tone and played an active role in sending troops and ammunition to Ireland during 1798.
Dr Theobald Jennings, father of de Kilmaine, moved to South West France in 1738. He practised as a physician in Tonnay-Charente in southwestern France. When his wife Eleanor Saul became pregnant she returned to Ireland. Her son Charles was born on October 19th 1751 at her family home, Saul’s Court, near the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin. Charles was raised in Dublin. He returned to France at the age of 11 where he attended school in Tonnay-Charente.
At the age of 14 de Kilmaine joined the French Army as a cadet. He served with distinction in Senegal, West Africa. He later as part of the expeditionary force to assist the Americans during their War of Independence (1780-1783) against the British. He became known during his career as ‘Brave Kilmaine’ and became a gallant and celebrated general. He played an important role in Napoleon’s Italian campaign and was appointed commander of Northern Italy in 1796.
de Kilmaine was committed to both the French Revolution and Irish Independence. He played an active part in the preparations for landings in Ireland such as of the one of General Humbert at Killala in 1798. In 1799 de Kilmaine was appointed general-in-chief in Switzerland. He resigned due to ill-health a short time later. He returned to Paris where he died at the age of 48. de Kilmaine’s name can be seen on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and his portrait hangs in city hall in Tonnay-Charente.
Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine, native of Ireland and celebrated general in the army of Napoleon, died in Paris in the year 1799 On This Day.