|Map part 3: Fall of Limerick 1|
|Date:||Mid Aug. - 25 Sep. 1691|
|Outcome:||Strategic alliance victory|
1 From Campagne du Large to the Fall of Limerick
1.1 After the Campagne du Large
The actions of the main battle fleets west of Brittany came to an end on 15 August. The alliance withdrew from Brittany to England, and finally Torbay. Soon after the French main battle fleet entered Brest, and it would not sail again in 1691. Meanwhile a small squadron under Captain Cole had started a blockade of Limerick, the last major Jacobite Stronghold in Ireland.
1.2 The alliance keeps its Main battle fleet at sea
Contrary to the French main battle fleet, the Alliance main battle fleet would remain at sea. With 'Main Battle Fleet' we mean the fleet that contains the mightiest ships of a nation. That is a fleet that included the three-deckers, the 1st and 2nd rate ships of the time. These normally retired from the sea early in the season.
The Alliance main battle fleet remaining at sea is what separates the two parts of the Fall of Limerick. In this, the first part, the alliance kept all of its fleet at sea. A sound French strategy to help Limerick would require sending about 10 ships of the line to overcome Captain Cole's squadron. It's very probable that the French thought this too risky as long as the allliance heavy ships were at sea. The risk could be diminished by escorting it out with the complete fleet, but this meant risking a general battle, something they had evaded during the Campagne du Large. Another strategy would be to make a very large detour. The disadvantage of that could be that the aliance would probably know about strength of the squadron well before it arrived, and could take measures to intercept.
After the alliance heavy ships retired, the context of the naval campaign changed. It became a campaign in which the heaviest ships could not participate, and that warrants a description on a separate page.
Keeping the 3-deckers at sea late in the season was rather risky. In a violent storm it was difficult to keep the three-deckers under control, and they could easily be smashed to pieces on the shore. This is why they were not normally left at sea late in the season. On the other hand if they were kept at sea, they gave a tremendous advantage in case of a battle against an opponent who had retreated his three-deckers.
1.3 Comparing the sieges of Limerick
|St. John's castle in Limerick|
|Photo by Marián Hubinský|
On the surface the chances for a successful siege of Limerick seemed way better in 1691 than in 1690. On closer inspection Ginkel did not have much better chances in 1691, and this is what warrants a closer look at the situation. Nice for those interested in history. Important because it explains that Versailles was so slow in sending aid.
Both the Battle of the Boyne, and the 22 July 1691 Battle of Aughrim led to the Jacobite Army clearing the field. Both led to a siege of Limerick. The real difference in effects was brought about by the alliance first taking Athlone in 1691. The Battle of the Boyne led to the surrender of Dublin, but did not affect the strong defensive position of the Jacobites behind the Shannon. On the contrary the battle of Aughrim was fought because the alliance had penetrated this position by taking Athlone. It led to the collapse of this position, and to the surrender of Galway (5 August) and Sligo on the coast. It also led to the taking of Banagher and Portumna, securing Williamite positions north and east of Lough Derg, and somewhat securing the Williamite communications to Dublin.
There were also similarities between the two sieges. The only realistic approach to besiege Limerick was from the south. It was simply not possible to besiege a town from across a river such as the Shannon. Furthermore: while the second siege began County Clare was in Jacobite hands, just as it was in 1690. The Williamites would have better overland lines of communication, enabling a somewhat longer siege, but started their siege significantly later in the season. The Jacobites would have better fortifications. The basic problem for the besieger was that an effective siege was only possible if he was prepared to cross the Shannon to separate communications to the north.
The chances for the 1691 siege of Limerick therefore seemed comparable to those of 1690. There was a significant difference in communications. Both sieges started with County Clare in Jacobite hands, but in 1690 the roads in County Clare led to other towns that could send supplies. In 1691 these roads led to enemy territory, but could still be used to transport goods from the sea. While both the overland communications and the Shannon stayed free in 1690, a small alliance squadron blocked the Shannon in 1691.
All this made that Versailles had no reason to fear an imminent surrender of Limerick. The conditions of the 1691 siege were comparable to that of 1690. The most significant disadvantage in 1691 was the small alliance squadron blockading the Shannon. However, their was no reason to believe it could not be dealt with after the alliance main battle fleet retired.
2 Both sides recuperate
2.1 Refreshing from mid-August - 7 September
There is little doubt that after spending two months at sea, both sides needed to recuperate. Men were tired, sick or even dead, due to exertion, discomfort and a general lack of fresh supplies. The French were at anchor near, or entering into Brest, the alliance would sail to Torbay. Therefore this phase of the 1691 campaign starts with both sides at anchor for a few weeks, from mid-August till 7 September.
2.2 The Blockade of Limerick
That did not mean that both sides were doing nothing. The alliance was still blockading Limerick (cf. above and the Campagne du Large), and if nothing changed at sea, they would automatically win the campaign for Ireland. The French knew that a squadron of 8 warships, 2 burners and 2 galiots had orders to go cruise near the Shannon, but thought that Chev. Shovell commanded it (GdF p. 524). On 8 September they knew it was Captain Cole with 'petit' squadron (Gdf Londres 8 Sep.)
On 18 August the alliance army was in Nenagh, on the left bank of the Shannon. On 25 August the alliance army came in sight of Limerick. The alliance army expected to have their siege train by 31 August or 1 September. Their ships came near Bunratty, and captured the St Michael (cf. Mercurius August 1691 p 120) that was trying to escape with St. Ruth's bagage and horses LG 27 August 1691. On 5 September the siege train came in, and plans for a regualr siege were announced LG 3/13 September 1691. On 6 September the alliance army raised a battery of guns against Thomond Bridge and attacked Castleconnel LG 10 September 1691. By that day Captain Cole was still blockading the Shannon, but now he had 18 ships, and anchored 3 miles from the city. Ships were also bringing in ammunition and other supplies for the besiegers OHC 27 September 1691 the commodity of such a way of supply can hardly be overestimated.
2.3 The Alliance fleet sails to Torbay
On 16 August near midnight the Centurion, having left the fleet that sailed to Torbay near Cape Lizard, arrived in Plymouth and brought the news that the French fleet had entered Brest last Tuesday. Later on the 17th the St. Albans and Portsmouth arrived, and at 5 PM the whole fleet was sighted about 10 km from PlymouthAC 28 Aug 1691. On 19 August the Grayhound and Soldadoes with some small ships entered Dartmouth to land some sick sailors and soldiers OHC 30 August 1691. On 20 August a message from Russel at Torbay reached London. The Government reacted by ordering Russel to unboard his sick and to sail again after taking in fresh waterAC 28 Aug 1691. The hospitalship Baltymore brought 150 sailors ashore in Plymouth. This brought the total number of sailors in the hospitals to 1,200, but most were expected to recover quickly OHC 6 September 1691. The papers mentioned that Russel had sent a journal of his campaign to the AdmiraltyOHC 30 Aug 1691.
On 23 August the New Chester arrived in Plymouth from the fleet, one or more days after the Deptford. On 24 August the St Albans, Portsmouth and Deptford were in PlymouthOHC 4 Sep 1691. On the 25th letters from Plymouth indicated the battle fleet would soon set sail again, and detach some ships to strengthen the blockade of the Shannon. On 25 August two warships arrived in Plymouth from the fleet, notifying it was still in TorbayOHC 6 Sep 1691. On 30 August letters from Plymouth had the fleet still in TorbayOHC 11 Sep 1691
On 7 September news reached Plymouth that the Foresight Cap. Gilliam had captured two French barques. These told that the French big ships had been laid up, and that 30 warships of 50-70 guns were equipping for the winter squadron, and 6 of 50-60 for the West IndiesOHC 18 Sep 1691.
2.4 The French did want to supply Limerick
Versailles had every reason to supply Limerick (in the results section). In the end it would indeed send a strong convoy with supplies, but by then it was already too late. This is what brought about a strategic defeat for the French Navy in 1691. Some French writers are ignorant of this. Sue has: Après la perte de la bataille de Kirconnel, le 9 juillet, on n'eut plus d'autre soin que de ramener en France le peu de troupes et de munitions que l'on put sauver, et de continuer de tenir les côtes en état de défense. Puis lorsque la flotte de Tourville fut entrée à Brest, on détacha M. de Chateaurenault avec trente vaisseaux pour croiser sur la côte d'Irlande; et on envoya deux autres escadres de La Rochelle et aux îles d'Amérique. La Ronciere has the fall of Limerick as a significant loss, but without seeing any strategic implication. Guérin has that Versailles indeed equipped a fleet to save Limerick, and that it sailed on 24 October 1691. Therefore there is every reason to detail what the French knew.
2.5 What the French knew about the Limerick
On 9 August 1691 a courier from Ireland brought the first news of the battle of Aughrim to Versailles, but this did not make the extend of the defeat clear (GdF p 529). Incredibly, there is a Dutch reference to this same courier with date 10 August: 'Yesterday there finally arrived a courier from Ireland that had been put ashore on Belle-Isle' AC 16 August 1691. On 17 August correspondents in Paris noted 29 July letters from Limerick, and these might have been the same. The French were working on improving the defences of Limerick to withstand an expected siege, and artillery officers had entered the town to assist. The cavalry was fine, but the infantry was ruined. Tyrconnel had re-assembled some infantry to create a small corps. M. Alvarez requested to sail to Ireland with a new convoy of Muskets, guns and ammunition, so that the power of the army could be restored. However, because the campaign was still inconclusive, Versailles wanted to wait till the alliance fleet retired to its harbours OHC 23 August 1691.
By 25 August Versailles had letters from Limerick of 7 August: O'Donnel had assembled a large corps of Raperies, and attacked the English before Galway. After that he had entered the town. But when Versailles printed this news it also published news of the loss of Galway on 30 July via London (GdF p 542). It could very well be that the couriers of 7 August was the last that reached Versailles.
By 1 September Versailles printed news from London that it was not certain that Ginkell would besiege, in stead of only blockade Limerick. (Cf. 'Weather permitting we hope to take Limerick this year, or to tightly blockade it' OHC OHC 13 September 1691) The garrison was strong, the fortifications had been repaired and improved since the previous siege, and Sarsfield marched in the environs with 14-15,000 men. Therefore the alliance army seemed not strong enough for a regular siege, especially if it had to sent 10,000 men to Flanders. (this news of the 10,000 to Flanders was also in the OHC 23 August 1691) From a courier it said it had that over 10,000 regular troops were in Limerick, that it was not clear that the enemy would perform a siege, that O'Donnel was in County Mayo, that there were still over 25,000 French and Irish in Ireland, and that these would prevent the alliance from sending troops to Flanders (GdF p 454). But, this courier could the same as that from the letters of 7 August.
By 7 September (GdF 562) Versailles had a message from Limerick of 16 August. This stated that from Aughrim almost all the cavalry as well as 12,000 infantry had joined the numerous garisson of Limerick, that there was ammunition for 4-5 months (i.e. till the end of the season). It added under news from London of 24 August that the main part of the garisson of Galway had joined that of Limerick, and that O'Donnel, O'Regan and Brigadeer Cutter were roaming the country side. But, also that Ginkel had summoned the garisson to surrender.
2.6 French fleet action in late August
On 15 August the French fleet was near Brest. After it saw the alliance move away it no doubt sent the sick part of its sailors on shore, which was logical after spending almost two months at sea. It probably also brought in some ships to repair. Next to that it executed some smaller actions. Between 22 and 31 August a squadron of 4 ships cruised to a position WSW of Ouessant, and this is how we know about it:
On 11 August 1691, the Dutch merchant Juffrouw Louisa of Captain Hendrik Opmeer left Texel together with 3-4 Danish ships AC 14 August 1691. It was destined to Cadiz with masts and other cargo OHC 15 September 1691. On 22 August with wind East North East, while being WSW 36 miles from Ouessant, Opmeer spotted 4 ships that gave chase. At 5 PM it becase clear that he could not escape, so he prepared to fight. The first was a ship of 64 guns and 400 men, the second of 70 guns and 450 men commanded by Foran. Two others had 50 and 60 guns. In short the Juffrouw Louisa burned, exploded and sunk, with most men saved by the French warships. These were brought to Brest on 31 August. A letter by Opmeer is in the Hollandsche Mercurius on page 188 under September 1691.
On the French side the incident is noted as the Heureux of Des Francs attacking a Dutch ship of 60 guns loaded with masts, spices and other cargo worth 200,000 ecu's. It had taken fire and was entirely burned, with most of the crew saving themselves (GdF 566 under 7 September). The Heureux(70) of Des Francs was in the OOB as such. Foran was probably Forant, commanding the St Philippe(84) with 581 men. Opmeer noted that the 2nd ship had 450 men and 135 soldiers, with the 'verdek' (well deck, the uppermost continuous deck) having 24 pounders, and the halfdek / quarterdeck and bak / forecastle mounting 8 pounders. On the Dutch side the Juffrouw Louisa was noted as having about 50 guns OHC 13 September 1691
2.7 some alliance shipping
On 29 June 109 merchant men had left Cape Virginia under escort of the d'Experiance Galley of Cap. Jenings (The H.M.S. Experiment of Captain Jennings Captain Jennings, of H.M.S. Experiment), and the Wolf of Cap. Pivery (Captain Purvis of H.M.S. Wolf). On 4 July a Bristol ship with 1100 roles of tobacco and a French skipper took fire, the crew saved by the boats of the warships. Shortly after three ships for Londonderry left the convoy. On 9 August the Montjoy of James Scot and two others arrived there. A 'kits' with sugar and tobacco for Liverpole also arrived there OHC 30 August 1691. On 22 August the English Virginia fleet of 70 merchant ships and 2 escorts arrived in Kinsale LG 17 August 1691, the other ships obviously arriving in other harbors.
Meanwhile a merchant fleet of 8 ships from Antigua in the West Indies was also approaching England. It had left the Caribbean 14 ships strong, with the Elisa Robinson (24) from London as admiral, and that of John Treeds (12) of Bristol as Vice Admiral. When a French warship came up near the Irish coast, these two were taken, but the others saved themselves in Crook Haven and Ballimore. The two escorts of the Virginia fleet then collected them OHC 11 September 1691. On 26 August the Lion of London LG 17 August 1691 arrived in Plymouth. On 27 August the captains Peter Brand?, John Coleman and Mathews all from Antigua came into Plymouth, bound for London. The ships for Bristol took course for that place LG 20 August 1691 On 1 September the Antigua ships and others left Plymouth for the Downs, while another convoy went to Ireland escorted by the Deptford and the St. Albans. Next 2 ships from Bilbao arrived in Plymouth LG 24 August 1691. The LG for 16 November has a note about the Hope from London and a Bristol ship retaken.
3 Last actions of the fleet 7 - 24 September
3.1 Russel again sails to Ouessant
From 2 September in Torbay the alliance battle fleet was reported ready to sail to a position 20 miles WSW of Scilly. It was judged that that would the best place to secure some expected merchant fleets, to intercept French convoys to England, and to attack the French fleet if it would unexpectedly sail OHC 13 September 1691. On 7 September it actually sailed, and on 9 September it passed Plymouth sailing to the west with little wind LG 31 August 1691. On 10 September the Newchester left Plymouth for the fleet with a lot of recovered sailors OHC 20 September 1691
Shortly before 2 September the English admiralty had asked how long the 1st and 2nd rate could be kept in the fleet. The answer of the combined Council of War was unanimous in stating that these should be in port by 20 September. In case there was certain news that the French had laid up theirs, the advice was that the 1st and 2nd rates should be sent to port about 12 September OHC 13 September 1691.
3.2 Russel finds nobody near Brest
On 10 September the fleet came in sight of Ushant on its third trip there that year(Burchett). No French came in sight, and it's important to realize that if the French fleet had been ready, it could have challenged the alliance then and there, close to their home port.
3.3 Russel runs into a storm
On 11 September the fleet tried to go to a station 50km WSW of Cape Lizard. On 12 September it sailed into a violent SSE storm. It saw no recourse but to sail to Plymouth. Due to fog and the power of the wind, the fleet was scattered. Russel with part of the fleet arrived at Plymouth on 13 September. The rest of the fleet and the Dutch sailed into Torbay OHC 25 September 1691
In the storm the Coronation (96) was lost at some distance from the shore. It cut all her masts, but even so it overset (turned upside down) near the Ramhead while at three cables length from Shovell. This was supposed to have been caused by some of the guns breaking loose, or the lower gun deck ports flying open. Only 24 of the common seamen were save, Captain Skelton and most of the (nominally 660) crew drowning.
The Sovereign (100) went missing, but came into Plymouth 14 September. Some of the third rates (Royal Oak and Northumberland) were stuck on the Hamoze, but got off soon after. The Harwich(70) was driven ashore near Mount Edgecombe, but the crew saved, and it was hoped her guns and rigging would be saved to LG 7/17 September 1691. The Dutch Zeven Provinciën suffered heavily near Plymouth. From Burchett we have that 'a great Dutch ship was seen at anchor 5 leagues in the Offing with all her masts gone'. From 'De Jonge' (page 281) that the Zeven Provinciën lost the bow sprit, fore-mast and main-mast, and suffered other heavy damage.
On the 20th the Vanguard Vanguard (90) with 660 men tried to enter the Downs, but ran aground on the Goodwin Sands. On the morning tide of 21 September she got loose, but she had so many leaks that the crew was forced to beach her in Sandwich Bay. While there, an operation started to save her men, guns, tackle and furniture. By 12/22 September some of the guns had been taken out of the Vanguard, and it was hoped that with only 2.5 feet of water in her at low tide, the leaks could be stopped and the ship could be saved LG 10 September 1691. On 24 September the Vanguard would get off from the place she had been put in Sandwich Bay, and on 25 September it would sail for Chatham LG 14 September 1691.
On 14 September Russel would write an initial letter about this disaster to the secretary of foreign affairs. In it he repeated how dangerous it was to have a fleet at sea so late in the season, and how this went especially for 1st and 2nd rate ships (Finch p 252). Furthermore that the government should appoint somebody else as admiral if it did not want to listen to him. Afterwards it became clear there was less damage than initially thought, but this was also due to ships getting of lightly after having been beached. On 7/17 September Russel sailed from Plymouth for Portsmouth.
3.4 Shovell in Plymouth
For some time Shovell remained in Plymouth to expedite the ships that could not sail without repairs. Shovell had raised his flag on the Kent, obviously quitting the London(100). Shovell OHC 27 September 1691, remained with 10-12 ships. Among them the Royal Oak, that had been stuck, but came of with very little damage LG 10 September 1691. The Northumberland (70) was stuck to, and also got off OHC 27 September 1691.
The Exeter was another victim of the storm. While in the Hamoze she was fastened to the hulk in order to careen, and her guns, sails and rigging were transferred into the hulk, along with 300 barrels of gunpowder. The gunner probably embezzled about 20 barrels of gunpowder, because on 22 September an explosion took place in the forecastle. It was followed by fire and an explosion that blew up the Quarterdeck, killing and wounding about 100 men. The hulk, the Elizabeth and Foresight cut their cables and got clear. The gunner was jailed on board the Kent(70)LG 14 September 1691.
On 10 October the Northumberland and Royal Oak left Plymouth for Chatham so they could be repaired OHC 23 October 1691. Meanwhile Shovell had been ordered to send five 4th rates, three 5th rates and two 6th rates to cruise in such formation as to best secure the inbound merchant ships (Burchett p. 104).
3.5 French inaction
By 7 September a small ship from Ireland had brought news to Paris that Limerick would not put up a long defense if help did not arrive immediately. Therefore Chateau-Renault and Vilette were ordered to sail with the 30 warships that would be put to sea again, and escort a convoy to Ireland OHC 13 September 1691. In early September messages from France told that ChateauRenault was ready to sail in Brest, probably to Ireland OHC 8 Sep 1691. A letter from the Foresight (50) of Captain Gillam reached Plymouth on 7 September. It had been near the French coast and had captured two empty French barks, that reported that about 1 September all French heavy ships had been laid up, and that 30 from 50-70 wear equipping as winter squadron, and 6 of 50-70 were going for the West-Indies OHC 18 September 1691
By 14 September letters from Brest noted that the Limerick was tightly besieged, and could not be saved without swift help from France. Rumours were that that Tourville had orders to dispatch the convoy immediately, or even to lead it himself OHC 20 September 1691
3.6 The English Barbados Convoy comes in
On 6/16 September the Sarah and the Thomas & Richard, both from London came into Falmouth from the Barbados. On 8/18 September the Tyger prize came into Plymouth from the Leewards. It brought news that the rest of the Barbados convoy of 75 merchants escorted by the Pricess Anne and the Bristol were entering Kinsale on 15 September LG 10 September 1691.
The returning French Greenland fleet of 14 ships of 200-300 tons, lost 10 ships to English and Dutch privateers LG 21 September 1691. On the coast of Ireland it ran into the St. Albans and the Soldadoes. These took a French privateer of 20 guns and 4 of the Greenland ships on 7 and 9 September. Two merchants were 300 tons and 16 guns, the other two 200 tons and 10 guns LG 17 September 1691. These same ships also retook 2 English merchants from Nevis. In early September 6 there was news from Rotterdam that Vlissingen privateers had taken 6 French whalers, one of them brought to Veere with 17 whales OHC 6 September 1691 Later that 2 Zeeland privateers took 4 French whalers, two of 10, one of 15 and one of 12 guns, out of 12 that were processing whales in a bay OHC 8 Sep 1691.
3.7 An English East Indies Fleet arrives
An English East Indies fleet also arrived. The Royal James & Mary (670t 134m) of Captain Buck had left Suratte on 19 February. It sailed from the Bay of Bengal together with the Joshua from Suratte, the Defense (730t 140m) (or Kempthorn) from Fort St. George, the Sumatra and the Princess Anne of Denmark (673t 133m). On 11 September a storm separated these 4 ships from each other while they were a 100 miles from Scilly. The Chesbury had sailed ahead from St. Helena and was feared lost OHC 2 October 1691. The James & Mary from Suratte arrived in Plymouth on 20 September. The East India ships Princess Anne, Kempthorn and Josiah were hoped to arrive soon LG 14 September 1691, and would indeed be picked up by the Adventure and the Happy Return. The cargo of the James & Mary was rich, and contained 418,000 pounds of Saltpeter OHC 2 October 1691. The arrival of the 4 ships was important enough to publish 23 lines about its cargo in the Oprechte Haerlemse Courant, this even though they were not fully loaded OHC 4 October 1691
3.8 The Siege of Limerick
While encircling Limerick, Castleconnell surrendered to the alliance on 7 September. Several other strong points were taken, yielding over 900 prisoners. On 8 September the alliance ships with ammunition unloaded about 5 km downstream of Limerick. It was believed that the defenders were lacking in ammunition, because they did not fire that much OHC 27 September 1691 On 9 September the alliance started to bombard Limerick with mortars. On 10 September the cannon joined. From deserters the alliance heard there was a strong garisson in the town, but that it was not half armed and lacked provisions. On 12 September the alliance started the lines of circumvallation LG 10 September 1691 On 14 September the alliance army sent 300 horse and dragoons to Leveson, who was busy reducing the small garrisons the Jacobites still had in County Kerry. By 16 September a line of contravallation with 4 forts in it had been made, and a new battery of 45 siege guns and 11 mortars had been made LG 14 September 1691.
On 16 September there was a message from the alliance army that may have confused many. The project of a formal siege had been abandoned 'because of the strength of the garrison and the advanced season. A continuous bombardment was thought to be more likely to subject Limerick.' OHC 2 October 1691 On 17 September 6 ships from Bristol arrived with food under escort of the Smyrna Merchant. This fleet took in Princess Anne's regiment, that was to sail to Tralee and to meet up with Leveson's troops in Lixnaw. Leveson was meanwhile clearing strong points between Limerick and Cork AC 9 October 1691. On 18 September the great battery of 22 guns began its bombardment, and within a day it made a breach of 30 yards in the north east wall of the English town. On 19 September another battery aimed at the Irish town was ready. Batteries of 7 18pdrs and 16 24pdrs were being prepared. By 23 September the defenders guns were reported as dismounted LG 21 September 1691
3.9 The fleet in Portsmouth
On 8/18 September the alliance fleet came to Portsmouth LG 7 September 1691. On 24 September all 1st and 2nd rates left for London, and Russel came on shore. He was to go to London the day after LG 14 September 1691. On 25 September Russel sailed eastward from Plymouth with several warships and the East India man James & Mary LG 17 September 1691. By 30 September the big ships would be in the Medway, but the main battle fleet phase of the campaign had ended by 18 September.
4 Results and Analysis
From 15 August till 18 September the alliance main battle fleet kept at sea late in the season. The French did not attempt to send a relieve force to Limerick while the alliance kept the sea. Alliance merchant shipping experienced very little trouble in the Channel.
By keeping their main battle fleet at sea late in the season, the alliance took the risk of loosing several of their heavy ships. This indeed happened when the fleet ran into a storm. Nevertheless: the strategy paid off, because the French did not send aid to Limerick.
Direct sources about the events are the London Gazette, and Dutch newspapers, especially the Oprechte Haerlemse Courant (OHC), and Amsterdamsche Courant (AC). For the events near Ireland, the LG is a better (because more direct) source, but the Dutch newspapers had far more space for naval affairs. Therefore they often provide details that have been left out in the LG.
The Gazette de France did not have that much news about the events. It did not have much correspondents in the area, and the few places (Limerick, Galway) that could provide it with news were soon blocked by the alliance. It therefore copied news from the English and Dutch papers. (These were read in Versailles). It could have provided news about the French fleet in Brest, but of course Versailles had an interest in keeping naval preparations a secret.
Burchett wrote extensively about the 1691 campaign in Memoirs of transactions at sea by Josiah Burchett, printed 1703.
The Manuscripts of Allan George Finch have a lot about 1691.
On the Dutch side De Jonge does not pay much attention.