Wednesday 18 October 2017

Floating fridges changed history - just as the internet is doing

Gauchos participate in a horseback ride in Uruguay. There are an estimated 120,000 Irish Uruguayans in the country (REUTERS/Andres Stapff)
Gauchos participate in a horseback ride in Uruguay. There are an estimated 120,000 Irish Uruguayans in the country (REUTERS/Andres Stapff)
David McWilliams

David McWilliams

At first, it tasted a bit like pork. Some of them vomited at the idea but, after a few morsels - nearly freezing to death from hypothermia and driven demented by hunger after over a week without food - they sat on the side of the Andes and chewed on their dead friends in silence. Apparently, you could tell the ones who had eaten human flesh due to the ghastly greenish tinge on their faces. Cannibalism was not something the Christian Brothers of the Stella Maris College in Montevideo had prepared them for.

Quite apart from Luis Suarez's cannibalistic instincts in the box, one of the few things most people know about Uruguay is the awful story about the rugby team whose plane crashed over the Andes in October 1972 and the fact that a number of the young men survived by resorting to cannibalism.

But did you know that all these young men, who played for the Montevideo club "The Old Christians", were all pupils or recent graduates of the Stella Maris College - an Irish secondary school? This school was founded in 1955 by Brother Patrick Kelly to educate the Irish-Uruguayan population here in Montevideo. At the peak of Uruguay's economic miracle, thousands of Irish migrants rocked up here in Montevideo. Many became middle managers or professionals and they now are heavily present in the bourgeois of this tiny Latin country.

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