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159th Anniversary of the Saint Patrick's Battalion, Mexico.

category international | history and heritage | news report author Tuesday September 12, 2006 04:44author by Fiachra Ó Luainauthor email foluain at yahoo dot ie Report this post to the editors

The Plaza de San Jacinto in San Angel is a must see for any Irish traveller in Mexico. San Angel is one of the more attractive part of the city with its cobbled streets and colonial architecture. The best day to visit is Saturday when there is an open market in around the edges of the municipal garden. When you arrive go to the top of the Plaza and look for the plaque. Today (September 12th) at 10am there will be an official cermony. The Irish Republic will be represented by an embassy official and other Irish people living in Mexico.
(This is just a quick notice and I don't pretend to be an expert and the internet cafe is closing soon so please excuse a lack of details.)

On the 12th September 1847 the US Army arrived at the Plaza de San Jacinto en San Angel, Mexico in the what was then a town to the south of Mexico City. They executed over a hundred of members of the Saint Patrick's Battalion. Today, as every year on this date Mexicans and Irish will join to celebrate their memory in an offical ceremony.
An historian in my literature class recently claimed that the legend of Catholic Irishmen changing sides from being Yankee Bluecoats to Mexican Patriots when they saw how the local Catholics were being treated might be flawed and the reason for their changing sides was that the conditions they were fighting in plus the Anti-Irish racism in the ranks of the US Army of the time. She claimed that the legend wasn't as romantic for Catholic Ireland as is made out as there were people of all religious backgrounds who partook.
Upon looking at the plaque you can make out many Catholic and Protestant names, and even one name that is definitely Jewish or Quaker (Heziakh something or other). In fact m many of the people who switched sides with Captain John O'Reilly weren't even Irish at all. There also figure many German names so we can't claim a monopoly on the Battalion either. The leader O'Reilly certainly was Irish though and supposedly some of the Irish survivors of the various battles ended up staying in Mexico.
Those who did die on the 12th of September 1847 were staying in the house in San Jacinto that was given to them by the Mexican Government. I can make out (or imagine) bullet marks in the stonework that remind me of my first visit to the GPO in Dublin.
The idea that thousands of miles away from Ireland Irish people of different religious background found common political purpose is inspiring for anybody who thinks of Irishness as being beyond religious identity and for me the Battalion is even more romantic. David Rovics' song reminds us that it was just 50 years after Wolfe Tone and that surely must have something to do with the spirit of the moment.
Let me once again apologise for this rough pice of information, I'm rushing. If anybody fings themselve in Mexico city pleas email me and I'll show them around as I live 5 minutes form the Plaza.
Fiachra Ó Luain

author by Seamus O Raghallaighpublication date Tue Sep 12, 2006 10:06author email twtone at lycos dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Go raibh maith agat Fiachra. Sin eolas brea a fail.
I never knew about this little piece of Irish-Mexican history, was very interesting to read about it, so go raibh mile maith agat chun e.
Sad thing is that the Irish gov. is be more occupied with remembering fallen british army soldiers then true republican heros like these men. They would probably be slurred with the tag 'terrorists' if they fought imperialism in a similar manner these days.

author by by David Rovicspublication date Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My name is John Riley
I'll have your ear only a while
I left my dear home in Ireland
It was death, starvation or exile
And when I got to America
It was my duty to go
Enter the Army and slog across Texas
To join in the war against Mexico

It was there in the pueblos and hillsides
That I saw the mistake I had made
Part of a conquering army
With the morals of a bayonet blade
So in the midst of these poor, dying Catholics
Screaming children, the burning stench of it all
Myself and two hundred Irishmen
Decided to rise to the call

From Dublin City to San Diego
We witnessed freedom denied
So we formed the Saint Patrick Battalion
And we fought on the Mexican side

We marched 'neath the green flag of Saint Patrick
Emblazoned with "Erin Go Bragh"
Bright with the harp and the shamrock
And "Libertad para Mexicana"
Just fifty years after Wolfe Tone
Five thousand miles away
The Yanks called us a Legion of Strangers
And they can talk as they may


We fought them in Matamoros
While their volunteers were raping the nuns
In Monterey and Cerro Gordo
We fought on as Ireland's sons
We were the red-headed fighters for freedom
Amidst these brown-skinned women and men
Side by side we fought against tyranny
And I daresay we'd do it again


We fought them in five major battles
Churobusco was the last
Overwhelmed by the cannons from Boston
We fell after each mortar blast
Most of us died on that hillside
In the service of the Mexican state
So far from our occupied homeland
We were heroes and victims of fate


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author by Mac Geoughpublication date Tue Sep 12, 2006 16:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Only about 2/5's of the battalion were from Irealnd. Of the 71 men who were court-martialed by The U.S. Army, 29 were born in Ireland,19 in the United States, 13 from German states, 8 non-British subjects (7 members of the battalion were from Scotland), 1 from France, 1 from Italy.
There may still be a commemation in Clifden, Co. Galway on Sept. 13th (birth place of S.P.B. Capt. John Riley).
Riley was later court-martlialed by the Mexican Army for mutiny but was found not quilty, was involved in some level
of a later attempt to over throw one of Mexicos corrupt govt's. He MAY have returned to Ireland.
Futher reading:
THE ROGUE'S MARCH Peter F. Stevens
SHAMROCK and SWORD Robert Ryal Miller

author by welshMxpublication date Sat Sep 16, 2006 16:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The battalion was one of the greatest multi divers groups in the Mexican army they are and always be the defenders of the north. All the members left when the battalion was disband at the end of the war and given there Promised Land by the government for there sacrifice in the war.
And about the death of Capt. John Riley he is buried in Veracruz.

author by missy conklinpublication date Wed Jun 18, 2008 22:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I took American history in High school ,isnt it strange this was never mentioned in our history books . That is really biased . I learned of it on my own. How these brave men , recently come from an infamined country ,to the land of the free,only to go to war and die defending what they beleived was a moral duty. The Mexican American war is a shameful spot in the annals of history, and President Polk was a slave driver president . NO wonder they dont teach it in our high schools ! It was a blatant abuse and robbery of the Mexican lands comprosing of California,Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The volunteers as they were called , came to volunteer themselves to robbery ,rape, murder of children and babies,and drunkeness, .So in light of that ,can you blame these brave men for changing sides? Not at all ,! Erin Go Bragh!

author by Yeranui Kaloyanpublication date Mon Aug 11, 2008 05:18author email ykp62 at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Even though I am mexican, the Saint Patrick Battalion is very like known in mexican history, when I studied mexican history on the fourth grade they vagely told us about these brave men, that gave their lives for my country.
You Irish people should be proud of these men.

author by Mary Cpublication date Wed Mar 04, 2009 03:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Across the border sits Fort Brown (now a University campus). That is the place where the american army fought the mexican troops. I am a high school teacher and a part time university professor. I learned about the San Patricios through a fellow professor while I attended a history workshop. I have researched and read some articles and some videos about the San Patricios. I am trying to make my students in high school (most of them Mexican-American) have some connection with the St Patrick's Day Celebration.
All I can say is the Irish, German and American men that formed this batallion were true heroes of faith.
God Bless them

author by Jorge Tellezpublication date Wed Mar 11, 2009 14:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To all the Irish, Germans, US, Swiss and other nationalities that switch band to fight and die for a principle and moral. That became Mexicans and fight fo us.

We as a world should look at them for inspiration about doing good and fighting wrong allways folowing moral principles.

We Mexico will never gonna get back our stolen land, but we can get our pride and learn and get inspired in not giving up on the hardest moments, just as San Patrick Battalion teach us.

Viva Mexico, Viva Irlanda

Erin Go Bragh

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author by HECTORMEXICO - NONEpublication date Fri Oct 16, 2009 23:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The saint patrick battalion are the most braves soldiers of mexico , mexico loves those irish soldiers.
In the ceremonies in mexico the escolarships says: ¡ he died for the country !
The best book for read about saint patrick battalion is : "the irish soldiers of mexico" , autor: michael hogan.
Hogan is imparcial in this tragic history.
Abrahm lincoln said to president james polk: "war has begun unnecessarily and unconstitutionally"

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