The distinguished descendant of gallant ancestors, born Philippe de MacMahon (1938), the fourth Duc de Magenta is also descended from the Bourbon Kings of France and is related to the present chief claimant to the French throne. MacMahon became an illustrious name in France and part of the French nobility. There are statues, boulevards, and parks throughout France in memory of Marshall MacMahon, great grandfather of the present duke.
Patrick MacMahon of Dooradoyle, Limerick, and his wife, Margaret O'Sullivan went to France following the confiscation of their lands after the Treaty of Limerick. The family genealocial tree, starting with Turlough MacMahon the First of Feenish Ireland, shows the eight generations preceding the Wild Goose Patrick. His direct descendant Edme Patrick Maurice became President of France and the First Duc de Magenta, having had an outstanding military career (following in the steps of his Wild Geese ancestors), and having won a victory over the Austrians at Magenta in 1859, was created a Duke and Marshall of France by Napoleon III. In the following year an Irish deputation headed by Young Irelander, John Mitchell, presented him with a sword of honour.
Today, in the same fashion, we welcome the Duc de Magenta from his home in Chateau de Sully in Burgundy to the home of his Shannonside family, many of whom are here today. It is fitting in this historic year of 1992 when the New Europe is emerging and we are commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Flight of the Wild Geese, that the two wings of the MacMahon family should celebrate this event at the University of Limerick. The families hold proud positions in their respective communities, and long may they do so. En effet mon Duc vous pouvez dire j'y suis, j'y reste as the Marchal proclaimed long ago.
In conferring on the Duc de Magenta the highest honour which the University can bestow, we are recognising the many other distinguished descendants of the Wild Geese still living all over the globe, and with them the hundreds of thousands who fell on the battlefields of Europe.