The Irish Diaspora in Latin and South America

Most of us are pretty familiar with the fact that through the past centuries a number of events, notably Famine and various rebellions caused millions of Irish to disperse around the globe, the majority coming to America, England or Australia. We've heard of the The Wild Geese, the flight of the Irish Earls to Europe. And in the cases of Australia and America, those Irish immigrants went on to play important roles in the course of historic events in those countries. However, most Hibernians are probably not aware of the many notable roles that the Irish have played in the course of events in both Latin and South America or the similarities that exist with the plight of Mexcian Independence and Ireland's struggle to be free.  Of course the obvious connection that should jump into everyone's mind is Eamon DeValera, born in NY to a Spanish father and Irish mother, he went on to lead Ireland's fight for Independence and later become a President of the Republic. What follows is a brief listing of some of the notable influences, the Irish have had in the course of history south of our border.

Guillermo (William) Brown - Mayo born founder of Argentina's Navy.

John (Juan) Thomond O'Brien - A Wicklow born hero in the sruggle for Argentina's Independence. Was the Aide-de-camp for Jose de San Martin, in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

Ambrose O'Higgins - Spain's Viceroy to Peru and father of Bernardo O'Higgins.

Bernardo O'Higgins - Don Bernardo O'Higgins was born around 1776/78 in the small town of Chillán, Chile. He was the illegitimate son of Ambrosio O'Higgins, a Spanish officer who would later hold the position of governor of Chile. His father's position afforded Don O'Higgins the luxury of travel, and at the age of 12 he was sent to Peru for his secondary education, only later to leave for Europe at the age of 16.

A military strategist and Founding father of Chile, he led forces in Chile's fight for Independence from Spain and became first leader of Chile.

Dr. Hugo Blair Brown - One of many Irish medical doctors who served with the 19th Century Independence armies of Simon Bolivar (Bolivia). Note - More than 2,500 Irish volunteers joined the army of Simon Bolivar.

Francis O'Farrell - Became Francisco Puyana of Colombia and founded the prominent family of Puyana.

Thomas Charles Wright - Served under Simon Bolivar and founded the Ecuadoran Navy.

Arthur Sandes - A Kerry man. This Irish born General settled in Ecuador after serving with distinction under Bolivar.

General Francis Burdett O'Connor - The nephew of 1798 leader Arthur O'Connor, fought for Bolivar and settled in Bolivia.

General Daniel Florencio O'Leary - Simon Bolivar's Aide-de-camp and biographer. He was born in Cork and became a national hero in Venezuela.

William Bulfin - Offaly born author of "The Tales of the Pampas". In Buenos Aires, edited The Southern Cross newspaper and played an important role in introducing hurling to Argentina.Bulfin's staunch nationalism was inherited by his Argentine-born children; his son Eamonn fought with Patrick Pearse in the Dublin GPO, 1916, while his daughter Catalina married Republican Politician Sean MacBride.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara - He was born in Buenos Aires in 1928, the first child of Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna. Ernesto Guevara Lynch's mother, Ana Isabel Lynch, with whom Che's family lived for years and to whom Che grew especially close, was the daughter of immigrants who had sailed to Argentina from County Galway, Ireland, at around the time of the Irish Famine. Another distinctive member of this clan is Admiral Patricio Lynch, a naval hero of Chile's 1879-1881 war with Peru.

Don Juan (John) King - A naval hero from Westport, Co. Mayo. Served with distinction under William Brown against Brazil and Uruguay.

General D. Juan McKenna - Tyrone born hero of Chile's wars of Independence.

The San Patricios - Until only recently the U.S. Army would have wanted the public to believe that the San Patricio Battalion of Irish soldiers that fought on the side of Mexico in the US-Mexican War (1846-48) was nothing more than a group of deserters and ne'er do wells. Actually to be a Catholic in the US Army at this time has been compared to announcing oneself as a Jew in Nazi Germany. As a result of recent studies it was determined that the ranks of this battalion included many volunteers with only a third being "deserters" from the US Army and the majority of those were Catholic sympathetic to the Mexican side and not to the land grabbing Irish Protestants on the Texas side of the argument. After all in their minds these Texicans were actually taken land that had rightfully belonged to Mexico. Many in the brigade were actually Irish living in Mexico before the US Army invaded Mexico. Many others were not even Iriish, and records show their ranks came from as many as 18 different countries. This battalion flew a banner inscribed with Erin Go Braugh , an image of St. Patrick and an Irish Harp. It is a documented fact that the US Army targeted cathedrals, churches and convents in Mexico.

The South American Irish