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Heroes, victims or villains? Irish Presentations and Representations in Latin America and the Caribbean

Morelia, Mexico, 15-18 July 2009

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The Irish Diaspora in Mexico

Ó Fógartaigh, Séamus (independent scholar, Mexico)

This Paper will present an overview of The Irish Diaspora in Mexico from colonial through post-colonial to modern times. It will indicate how Irish immigrants and their descendents played an important role in the political, military, social and cultural life of their adopted country, and how they have contributed to the development of friendly relations between Ireland and Mexico . These friendly relations have grown and prospered in recent years with the establishment of full diplomatic relations, and the ongoing intercourse between the two countries in the areas of education, commerce and cultural exchange. The tragic and emotive story of the San Patricios who fought on the side of Mexico during the U.S. invasion of 1846-1848 has served as a catalyst to highlight the unique affinity that exists between the two cultures. It also serves as a reminder of the longstanding bonds of friendship and mutual assistance that have existed between the Hispanic and Irish peoples for centuries. For some historians, the San Patricios were heroes, for others they were victims, and for some critics they were villains, i.e., deserters and turncoats. This Paper will examine the pros and cons of such assertions, and will attempt to situate the San Patricios within the wider historical context of Hiberno-Hispanic solidarity. As Mexico prepares to celebrate the Bicentenary of its Independence , I will highlight the role of William Lampart from Wexford who is regarded by some Mexican historians as the Precursor of Mexican Independence. Lampart and the San Patricios are not without relevance to modern society which continues to struggle with the issues of racism, neo-colonialism as well as religious and ideological intolerance. I have lived in Mexico for more than three decades, and served as the first president of The Irish Society of Mexico some thirty years ago.


The Society for Irish Latin American Studies

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