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Reviving the Saint Patrick's Battalion
By Dan Leahy


The Saint Patrick Battalion

A song by David Rovics ("Living in these Times", 2001)


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 Wolf 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 Monterrey 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
Churubusco 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




The editors are thankful to David Rovics for his permission to publish the lyrics and live recording of his song. Other works by David Rovics are available in his website (http://www.davidrovics.com/).


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Copyright � Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2007
The song
Copyright � David Rovics

Online published: 15 March 2007
Edited: 07 May 2009

Leahy, Dan, 'Reviving the
St. Patrick's Battalion' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 5:1 (March 2007), pp. 23-30. Available online (www.irlandeses.org), accessed .


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