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¡Erin Go Bragh!

17 March 2010

The monument at the left was erected in 2004  in Clifden, Galway, Ireland.  Clifden — which flies the Mexican flag over its equivalent of a palacio municipal — was the birthplace of Mexican hero, John Riley, the leader of the San Patricios who fought the U.S. invasion after realizing that giving aid to a land grab by English-speaking Protestants wasn’t exactly in the best traditions of the Irish.  Fighting was.

As Roberto Salas wrote  in a fine article for the November-December 2008 Irish American:

Estimates as high as 9,000 soldiers deserted from the American army during the Mexican war and many later vanished into the Mexican countryside.

The Irish deserters joined together and, under the leadership of Irish-born John Riley, formed the San Patricio Battalion.

The San Patricios created their own military banner with Saint Patrick on one side and a shamrock and the harp of Erin on the other. The reasons given for desertion were bad treatment and poor subsistence they received from non-Catholic members of the American Army. Being Catholics, they also resented the bad treatment given to Mexican civilians, priests and nuns after the war started.

The San Patricios fought in the five major battles against the Americans, which included Matamoros, May 3, 1846, Monterrey, Sept. 21, 1846, Buena Vista, Feb. 22, 1847, Cerro Gordo, April 17, 1847 and Churubusco, August 20, 1847. After the battle of Buena Vista, the San Patricios gained recognition as a Mexican fighting unit to be reckoned with. They gained the grudging respect of the American Army.

Although several San Patricios were hanged by the invaders as deserters, and others were branded, Riley himself survived but only by a few years. He was buried in Veracruz, 31 August 1850, with full military honors. In Mexico itself, where there are several memorials to the “Mártires Irlandeses“, there is a ceremony today at the San Patricio Memorial in San Jacinto Plaza, San Angel.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 March 2010 11:37 am

    The San Patricios are the recipients of much, ahem, “romantic” portrayals, for sure.

  2. 17 March 2010 12:37 pm

    But when the land of Latin Lovers meets the land of Poets, what do you expect?

  3. Rodrigo permalink
    29 June 2010 6:41 pm

    The day the I saw St Patrick flag w/the mexican eagle I was surprise then I went to the library & the translations of the names now I know y am mexican with red hair my uncles blue eyes talking galeic and otomi on michuacan mexico.

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