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Eamon Bulfin: The Ché Guevara of Ireland

23 September 2015

Irish, and Irish-Latinos have made their mark in Latin American history as freedom fighters for centuries. Guilermo Lombardo … born William Lamport… was the first to call for New Spain’s independence (and was one of the sources for the fictional hero, Zorro); the San Patricios’ doomed fight to save Mexico from the United States are still celebrated here; and further south, we find Bernardo O’Higgins, the founding father of Chile, and — in Argentina — Ernesto Guevara Lynch made something of a name for himself in the last century (and, looked good on tee-shirts). But, like his fellow Argentinian, Eamon Bulfin, Guevara’s battles were mostly separate from his Irishness. Bulfin took his battles to the Old Sod.

Bulfin, 1916... a terrible beauty is born, though he never got his face on a tee-shirt.

Bulfin, 1916… a terrible beauty is born, though he never got his face on a tee-shirt.

Born (1892) in Buenos Aires, Bulfin arrived in Ireland in 1914… just as the First World War had broken out, which challenged British control of their Empire, and gave the Irish the impetus (that… and the Mexican Revolution) to break free of their colonial masters. Bulfin though a teenager, was a key member of Padrick Pearce’s underground Irish Volunteers, that led the 1916 Easter Uprising… the opening act of the Irish War of Independence.

It was Bulfin who first raised the Irish tricolor in Dublin, signaling the Republic’s birth. For his trouble, the British sentenced him to death, but … like U.S. born Eamon de Valera (the long time president of the Republic)… his foreign nationality saved him from the hangman. Deported back to Argentina, Bulfin was imprisoned for draft evasion (more of less a bogus charge, but done as a favor to the British, who’d control the Argentine economy up through the Peronista era). Upon his release in 1919, he was given the post of Ireland’s consul to Argentina, returning to the land of his fathers in 1922.

More at The Irish Times about the Argentine-Irish and Ireland’s War of Independence.

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