By/Por Polo Munoz
I wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses, not that you might never need regret, nor that you should never feel pain. No, that is not my wish for you. My wish for you is: That you might be brave in times of trial, when other lay crosses upon your shoulders. When mountains must be climbed and chasms are to be crossed; when hope scarce can shine through. That every gift God gave you might go along with you. And let you give the gift of joy to all who care for you. That you may always have a friend who is worth that name. Whom you can trust, and who helps you in times of sadness. Who will defy the storms of daily life at your side. One more wish I have for you. That in every hour of joy and pain you may feel God close to you. This is my wish for you and all who care for you. This is my hope for you, now and forever. – Irish Blessing
Latin America has many friends of Irish descent. Many of my Irish-American friends have tried to prove to me that they are responsible for not only saving civilization (see “How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe” by Thomas Cahill), but also through exporting some of their bloodline to places in Latin America, the Irish had a big impact on how South America was shaped. Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day seem to be two holidays that are celebrated in a bar with family. Guess we do have a lot in common.
During the US – Mexican War (1846-48), the San Patricio Battalion of Irish soldiers that fought alongside of the Mexicans were, in the majority, a group of Irish Catholics who had been living in Mexico. Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s grandmother, Ana Isabel Lynch, was the daughter of Irish Immigrants from County Galway, Ireland. They sailed to Argentina at the time of the Irish Famine. Simon Bolivar, the George Washington of South America, had more than 2,500 Irish volunteers under his command. Dr. Hugo Blair Brown was one of many Irish medical doctors who served in Bolivar’s independence armies. Thomas Charles Wright served under Simon Bolivar and founded the Ecuadorian Navy. Arthur Sandes, a Kerry man, was an Irish born General and settled in Ecuador after serving with Bolivar. Other notables include General D. Juan McKenna, a Tyrone born hero of Chile’s independence wars; and General Daniel Florencio O’Leary who was born in Cork and became a national hero in Venezuela.
So raise your Tecate to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and if you find a Gonzalez O’Malley next to you, give them a beso.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.