The San Patricio Story.
During the Great Famine in Ireland 1845-48 , millions of destitute people left Ireland for America . Unfortunately, not all lived to share in the American dream. Life was particularly difficult in the American army for young Irishmen who were often despised and mistreated by a very conservative and often bigoted officer corps. When the Americans went to war with Mexico over the territories of Texas and California , many young Irishmen questioned why they had come from a poor Catholic country to kill poor Mexican Catholics. Over 150 young Irishmen deserted to the Mexican side and fought with the poor people of Mexico against what is now recognised as American 19th. Century Imperialism. They formed the Saint Patrick’s Battalion of the Mexican army and fought with great valour for a lost cause. When Mexico lost the war, many of the Irish were hanged en masse by the American army as traitors and deserters. Many of the surviving members of the regiment settled in Northern Mexico where their descendants live to this day.
The story of the San Patricios has always been a huge story in the history of Mexico , a little known story in the history of Ireland and a ‘would rather forget’ story in the history of America. However, an impressive monument stands proud in Mexico City ; Paddy Moloney and the Chieftains have recorded a beautiful album entitled the ‘San Patricios’ ; a book has been written about the regiment ; a film has been made about the regiment; and in August , the only pipe band in Mexico (which has been named to honour the San Patricios ) is coming to New Ross for five days. For one week in August , the town of New Ross will be the St. Patrick’s Battalion Pipe Band’s home.