In the latter decades of the eighteenth century, Alejandro OReilly was a military commander who dominated Cuba, Florida and Louisiana while it was under Spanish control, and Ambrosio OHiggins held a similar command post in Chile and Peru.
Tom Byrne extends the story of the Irish role in Latin America southward, in his discussion of the 1806 invasions of the River Plate and Brazilian territories.
His account reminds us of the famous Admiral William Brown of County Mayo who served the Argentine navy so memorably in that era.
), which fought in five major battles during the United States-Mexican War (1846-1848), and whose experiences have gone on to inspire romantic novels, films, songs, poems and, more recently, serious historical scholarship.
The unit began as a small group called the San Patricio Company, jokingly called the Red Guards or , a reference to their red hair.
Irish soldiers have a long history of seeking service in foreign lands.
Known collectively and colloquially as the Wild Geese, they constitute a distinct subset of the Irish emigrant and diasporic communities.Irish soldiers have fought in all continental European wars, sometimes as mercenaries for hire, and other times as true believers in the service of Catholic monarchs against Protestant foes.They were present in the Americas too, dating from the first voyages that accompanied the explorers and conquistadors in the sixteenth century and continuing all the way up to the present with rumours of connections between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) (2).In fact, Irish soldiers have had a significant presence throughout the histories of Spain and Latin America.The historian Grinne Henry has conducted an excellent case study of approximately 10,000 Irish troops who served in Spanish Flanders at the time of the great Armada.(3) This episode is significant, and it underscores the longstanding connection between Irish soldiers abroad and the development of national identity at home, the persistence of a militant strain of Counter-Reformation Catholicism in their world view, and the close connection between Ireland and the Spanish-speaking world.