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Heroes' stamp of approval

TWO Irishmen who played a crucial role in Chile's struggle for independence have been honoured in both their home and adopted countries.

Bernardo O'Higgins, regarded as the 'Liberator of Chile', and John (Juan) MacKenna, a commandant-general of the Chilean army, feature on stamps that have been simultaneously issued in Ireland and Chile.

Images of each man in full military dress, by Irish artist Ger Garland, will mark the bi-centenary of Chile's independence.

Referring to the recent rescue of the trapped miners, Chilean Ambassador Leonel Searle said it showed "the character of national heroes, such as those we honour today".

O'Higgins is widely celebrated by the Chilean nation and a monument to him also stands in Dublin's Merrion Square.

The son of the Irish-born governor of Chile, O'Higgins was a leading figure in the movement to overthrow Spanish rule and became Chile's first head of state. MacKenna, from Monaghan, was commandant-general of O'Higgins' army.

The stamp set and a specially commissioned first day cover are available from www.irishstamps.ie and at post offices.

Irish Independent