Buenos Aires held the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in Latin America yesterday – or, as Argentineans call it, “Dia de la Cerveza.” (“Beer Day.”)
As many as 500,000 people in Argentina claim Irish ancestry and it showed! The party started early in the city with an all-night street party and a live Internet broadcast from several bars.
The Irish embassy in Buenos Aires hosted an official reception for around 400 Irish-Argentineans, where they sampled Irish music, food and dance.
This was followed by an hour-long procession of members of the country’s Irish associations, who walked down the city centre, along with Irish music and dance.
Patricia Gilmore, a writer from Boston who lives in Buenos Aires, said, “I laughed out loud when we had to make the turn to Plaza San Martin and go down a two-lane street against traffic, during rush hour, with buses on the road. But not even this could deter the marchers and me.”
One ex-pat blogger said that thousands of Argentineans and expats worked their way to Calle Reconquista, a district with several Irish bars, to celebrate the day. “By the time I got there, I couldn't move because it was so packed,” the blogger said.
And a special wreath on the Buenos Aires monument to Admiral William Brown, the Irishman who founded the Argentinean navy, was laid.
Brown (known in Spanish as “Guillermo Brown”) is one of Argentina’s national heroes. Commonly known as the “father of the Argentine navy,” he was an important leader in the Argentinean struggle for independence from Spain.
Brown’s family left Foxford in Co. Mayo for Philadelphia in 1786 when he was aged 9 and his father died of yellow fever soon after they arrived in the U.S. He fought in the Napoleonic wars, was taken prisoner-of-war, escaped to Germany, before somehow ending up in Uruguay, where he became a sea trader. He then founded the Argentinean navy when it was at war with Spain.