Glimpses of the Irish in Nineteenth-Century Bogotá



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British Legion Private, 1821
(Regimientos de América
© Daniel Pedrazzoli


[1] See "Nuestro Patrimonio 100 Tesoros De Colombia; El Tiempo," Bogotá, 2001, Ch.60, "Museo Nacional," pp.210-213.

[2] Panóptico: a building designed so that all areas can be seen from one central point.

[3] Tomás Reed (1810?-1878): Little is known about this Danish architect, a native of the Danish island colony of Saint Croix in the Caribbean, who was educated in England. The surname Reed suggests British rather than Danish nationality. See Silvia Arango, Historia de la Arquitectura en Colombia (Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1989), p. 110.

[4] Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera (1798-1878): Soldier, politician and president of Colombia from 1845 to 1849. Silvia Arango is of the opinion that Reed was contacted by Manuel Ancízar, the Colombian minister to Venezuela, who invited him to Colombia.

[5] Arango, Historia de la Arquitectura, p. 110.

[6] The notes which follow were made during two visits to the Museo Nacional on 25 October and 1 November 2005 and are based on the texts on the legend cards.

[7] See Matthew Brown and Martín Alonso Roa, Militares Extranjeros en la Independencia de Colombia, Nuevas Perspectivas (Bogotá: Museo Nacional de Colombia, 2005).

[8] Daniel Florence O´Leary: Born 1801 at 89/90 Barrack Street, Cork; died 1854 in Bogotá, buried in Caracas. Grandnephew of Capuchin priest Arthur O´Leary (1729-1802) a celebrated wit, famous preacher and polemical writer.

[9] A Davenport writing desk was a small, free-standing writing desk produced in large numbers in England between 1795 and 1885. The name derives from an entry in the 1790s account books of Gillow of Lancaster: 'for Captain Davenport a desk,' alongside a design for a box-like desk with drawers opening to one side and a sloped writing surface. Available online ( html), accessed 30 January 2006.

[10] James Winter, 101 Wardour Street, Soho, London, 'furniture broker and appraiser and undertaker' between 1823 and 1840. The firm continued trading until 1870. Winter´s trade card stated that he charged 'a liberal price for furniture in large or small quantities.' Later the business was styled as James Winter & Son, and the address was changed to 151/153/155 Wardour Street. See Geoffrey Beard & Cristopher Gilbert, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers (The Furniture History Society, 1986); Cristopher Gilbert, The Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture, 1700-1840 (London: Maney Publishing and the Furniture History Society, 1996), pp. 57, 494-7, 498.

[11] The Beatriz Osorio Sierra Foundation is named after Beatriz Osorio Sierra, born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1912 and died 31 July 1947. Beatriz, the daughter of Roberto Osorio and Isabel Sierra, was a granddaughter of the legendary José María Sierra (b. Girardota 1848 - d. Medellín 1921). Sierra was a larger than life, rags to riches cattle drover and became a uniquely successful financier and entrepreneur, better known as Don Pepe Sierra. Beatriz Osorio Sierra was educated in Switzerland and England, and in Paris where she studied history and art at the Louvre. In her last will and testament Beatriz indicated that she wished to have a foundation set up in her name, dedicated to assisting educational programmes and providing finance for museum acquisitions. This philanthropic non-profit making foundation is based at Transversal 23, No. 100-12, Bogotá. There is a commemorative plaque in honour of Beatriz Osorio Sierra located on the main staircase of the Museo Nacional.

[12] There is another reproduction of this desk in the Catálogo de las Fundaciones de Beatriz Osorio (Bogotá, 1996), p. 37.

[13] The 'Superfin Riche' inscription on the legend card may mean either (a) very thin or (b) high quality; 'riche/richement' as per the English 'richly'. These kind of uniforms were made in Britain and Ireland and together with other supplies and ammunition were the subject of complex contracts between Bolívar, Devereux and others. See Alfred Hasbrouck, Foreign Legionnaires in the Liberation of Spanish South America (New York: Columbia, 1928).

[14] Casa Museo Quinta de Bolívar, Calle 20, No.2-91 Este, Bogotá. The details are as per those given by Brown and Roa p. 251.

[15] When visiting the museum this item was in storage and not on display. The details have been taken from the Catálogo de las Fundaciones de Beatriz Osorio p. 38, where this portrait is reproduced. This miniature as well as items (d) and (e) were acquired by the Foundation from the Cantillo O’Learys, great granddaughters of Daniel Florence O’Leary, for the Museo Nacional in 1971.

[16] This portrait is reproduced in the Catálogo de las Fundaciones de Beatriz Osorio, p. 38.

[17] This portrait is also reproduced in the Catálogo de las Fundaciones de Beatriz Osorio, p. 38.

[18] This portrait belonged to Catalina Cantillo O´Leary Márquez and is also reproduced in the Catálogo de las Fundaciones de Beatriz Osorio, p. 39.

[19] When visiting the museum this item was in storage and not on public display. The details are as per those given by Brown and Alonso Roa, Militares Extranjeros, p. 240.

[20] See note 14.

'This fence is made from bayonets and musket barrels used by the British Legion in the War of Independence and presented by the Municipio de Bogotá.
Plaque donated by H.E. Sir James Joint and members
of the British Legion, Colombia Branch. 1959'

(Photo: Edward Walsh 2005)

[21] This portrait is reproduced in the Catálogo de las Fundaciones de Beatriz Osorio, p. 43.

[22] Epifanio Garay Caicedo (b. 1849 Bogotá - d. Villeta 1903). Colombian painter.

[23] Joseph Boylan, probably from Ireland, was a sergeant in the British Legion.

[24] José María Espinosa Prieto (b. Bogotá 1796 - d. Bogotá 1883). Colombian painter. See Caricatura y Costumbrismo, José María Espinosa y Ramón Torres Mendez: Dos Colombianos delSiglo XIX (Exhibition catalogue, Museo de América, Madrid, 16 March - 15 April 1999, Bogotá: Litografía Arco, 1999).

[25] José Eugenio Montoya Antioquia (c.1860-1922). Colombian painter.

[26] James Rooke (b. Ireland 1770 - d. Tunja 1819). Rooke fought at the Battle of Waterloo, retired from the British Army in 1816 and went to live on the island of St Kitts in the West Indies. He joined the British Legion in 1818, lost an arm at the Battle of Pantano de Vargas and was taken to the Convent of Belencito where he died and was buried. There is a bronze bust of Rooke in Paipa, Boyacá, Colombia.

[27] Tomás Carlos Wright (b. Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, 1799 - d. Ecuador 1868). An officer in Sandes Rifles commended for bravery at the Battle of Bomboná. Later settled in Ecuador where he is regarded as the founder of that country’s navy. See César Cabezas y Cabezas, Biografía del General Almirante Tomás Carlos Wright Montgomery, 1799-1868 (Guayaquil: IHME, 1944); Eduardo Wright, 'El General de División Tomás Carlos Wright' Boletín del Centro de Investigaciones Históricas, Quito; 5:7 (1937), pp. 412-414.

[28] Antonio Salas (b. Quito 1795 - d. Quito 1860). Ecuadorian painter. Educated in the workshops of Bernardo Rodríguez and Manuel Samaniego. Examples of his work in Ecuador are to be found in the church of Santo Domingo, Guayaquil as well as in other churches in Quito. From 1824 onwards began painting a series of portraits of generals.

[29] Pontificia Universidad Católica de Ecuador, 12 October, between Patria and Ventimilla, Quito, Ecuador.

[30] Tomás Murray (b. [?] - d. Bogotá 1853): There is some doubt as to where and when Murray was born. In 1818 he joined the British Legion. Murray was Director of the Military School founded by Mosquera and subsequently Minister of War. See Reminiscencias (Bogotá: Imprenta de Echeverri, (without date), 31 pages. See 'Diarios, Memorias y Autobiografías en Colombia. La Biblioteca Sumergida,' Biblioteca Virtual, Banco de la República, Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango, Boletín Cultural y Biográfico, No. 40, Vol. XXXII (1997).. There is another portrait of Tomás Murray by José María Espinosa referred to by Espinosa see (No.64) 'Abanderado del Arte en el Siglo XIX. Beatriz González. Capítulo 4: Mi Profesión de Pintor y Retratista. La Creación de una Iconografía Procera,' Biblioteca Virtual, Banco de la República, Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango. Available online (, accessed 30 January 2006.

[31] The legend card refers to this trio as 'artistas asociados.'

[32] See items (c), (d) and (e).

[33] Frederick Buck (1771-c.1840) was the younger brother of Adam Buck (1759-1833). Frederick lived all his life in Cork, while Adam was a successful artist who worked first in Dublin and then enjoyed a distinguished career in London. See Rosemary ffolliott, 'The Unmistakeable Hand of Frederick Buck,' Irish Arts Review, Vol. 1, No. 22, Summer 1984, pp. 46-50 and 'The Swift Rise and Slow Decline of Frederick Buck,' in The Irish Ancestor, No. 1, 1975, pp. 15-23.

[34] ffolliott, 'The Unmistakeable Hand,' p. 50.

[35] The late Elsa Ortiz Hernández Walsh (1942-2000) had an unexpected encounter in the 1980s with a member of the O’Leary family, a doctor based in Bogotá. On remarking to this individual that he looked quite Irish, the doctor replied that this was so as he was a direct descendant of Daniel Florence O’Leary.

[36] See Edward Walsh, 'From Cork to Caracas,' Latin American Chasqui, London, Vol. 1, No. 2, (February 1991).

[37] See Pat Brosnan, 'Michael, 82, to realise lifelong ambition in Venezuela' in The Irish Examiner, 17 March 2005. See also Con O’Connell, 'General Daniel Florence O’Leary' in The Cork Examiner, 12 April 2001.

[38] Richard Vawell (1795-1837), Memorias de un Oficial de la Legion Británica. Campañas y Cruceros durante la Guerra de Emancipación Hispanoamericana (Bogotá: Biblioteca Banco Popular, Vol.56, 1974; this is a reprint of the Spanish language edition of 1916. Varwell was also the author of Las Sabanas de Barines (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia de la Defensa, 1973).

[39] Vawell, Memorias de un Oficial, p. 16.

[40] See Stephen Gaselle, 'The British Cemetery at Bogotá, Notes and Queries,' Oxford Journals, (Oxford UP, 1936), Vol. CLXXI, 221-223 and 'The British Cemetery at Bogotá, Notes and Queries' Oxford Journals, (Oxford UP, 1938), 175-348. Sir Stephen Gaselle (1882-1943) was the renowned erudite, scholarly librarian and archivist at the Foreign Office, London, 1920-1943.

[41] These notes were made after visiting the cemetery on 29 October 2005.

[42] The burial registers are now kept by Peter Simon for and on behalf of the British community at the offices of John Simon & Co. Ltda., Avenida Suba 108 - 58, Trr.B, Of. 210, Bogotá, Colombia.

[43] For another perspective on the War of Independence see Mathew Brown, 'Adventurers, Foreign Women and Masculinity in the Colombian Wars of Independence,' Feminist Review, 79, (2005), 36-51.

[44] A photograph of this gateway entrance to the main burial area has been reproduced by Brown and Alonso Rua, Militares Extranjeros, see p. 258.

[45] Lissnafillan: this is probably Lisnafillan near Ballymena, Country Antrim.

[46] Doctor Thomas Fallon 1800?-1864.

[47] Diego Fallon, born in Santa Ana (today Falán) Tolima, 10 March 1834, died 1905. See Diego de J. Fallon, Biblioteca Banco Popular, Vol.22, Bogotá, 1971. For an assessment of Fallon’s poetry and bibliography see Natalia M. Ramírez, Universidad de Pittsburgh, Diego Fallon (Colombia 1834-1905): vida y obra crítica sobre el autor (Apartes de 'Diego Fallon: lecturay reinterpretación de su obra poética'). Available online ( Accessed on 30 January 2006.

[48] See note No.3.

[49] Silvia Arango, Historia de la Arquitectura en Colombia (Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1989).



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Copyright © Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2006

Online published: 1 March 2006
Edited: 07 May 2009

Walsh, Edward, 'Glimpses of the Irish in 19th-Century Bogotá' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 2006. Available online (, accessed .


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