Mexicans rave over Chieftains founder Paddy
THE work of The Chieftain's founder Paddy Moloney in bringing Mexican music and culture to the attention of the world has been recognised with a prestigious award.
Moloney will join just 250 recipients worldwide of the 'Ohtli' award from the Mexican Government, when he receives it at a reception at the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin tonight.
The musician took up his whistle to join the San Patricio Mariachi band for some toe-tapping when the award was announced at the Mexican embassy in Dublin yesterday.
He said he was honoured to receive the award which recognised his 25 years of research of an all-but-forgotten Mexican-Irish connection.
The people of Mexico still celebrate the valour of Irish soldiers who fought on their side in St Patrick's Battalion in the Mexican-American war -- though the story here has been lost in the mists of time.
A friend's thesis led The Chieftains frontman to learn of the hundreds of Irish soldiers -- with Galwayman John Riley at the fore -- who joined forces with the Mexicans during the war of 1846 to 1848.
Up to 40 of them, known as The San Patricios, were subsequently hanged by the American side.
"It's a story you won't find in the history books," Moloney said.
And he revealed that a movie of the San Patricio story may yet be in the offing, as he has spoken with director Neil Jordan.
Actor Liam Neeson has expressed an interest in the role of John Riley.
Inspired by the tale, the great musician travelled to Mexico in search of the local music.
"I went over to record a couple of pipe bands. I ended up with enough material for four albums," revealed Moloney.
Fusing the sounds of nine regions of the country along with The Chieftains' own Irish flavour, Moloney recruited Ry Cooder, Liam Neeson and top Mexican musicians who contributed to the album 'San Patricio'.
Mexican ambassador to Ireland Carlos Garcia de Alba said Mexico and Ireland have much in common culturally.
"We are both neighbours of big powers and we have both suffered a lot,"he said.