159th Anniversary of the Saint Patrick's Battalion, Mexico.
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 email@example.com