Irish people can relate to various peoples around the world on the basis of a similar history. When the United States attacked Mexico and confiscated states like Texas and New Mexico in the mid-19th century, Irish people could relate.
In a new album to be released tomorrow night at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, The Chieftains celebrate the memory of a band of Irishmen who defended Mexico against American invasion.
The album is a collaboration with American guitar legend Ry Cooder, with whom (and my dad!) they previously recorded a track on The Long Black Veil called The Coast of Malabar. Cooder is scheduled to appear with the band at tomorrow night's concert in Glasgow.
When John Reilly led 150 Irishman in a brigade to defect from the US military, they would forever be remembered as the San Patricios. Together these Ireland-remembering immigrants abandoned the American expansion efforts, and took sides with the defense of Monterey in the Mexican-American War of 1846. They hoisted an Erin Go Bragh flag with golden harp on a green banner as their emblem. The original banner once hung in the chapel at West Point, but has since been stolen, whereabouts unknown.
Ensuring the San Patricios are never forgotten, a platoon of bagpipers in the capital city of Mexico to this day perform Irish music on the first Sunday of every month. Many Mexicans celebrate Saint Patrick's Day by toasting "the Irish martyrs" who were these San Patricios from long ago.
The Chieftains celebration of the San Patricios begins tomorrow night in Glasgow.