MEMBERS OF the Mexican San Patricio Battalion Pipe band were inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame on Thursday.
The reception was attended by the Mexican Ambassador, Carlos Garcia de Alba; Chairman of the JFK Trust, Noel Whelan; Brian McMahon, Director of the New Ross & District Pipe Band; Niamh Fitzgibbon, Cathaoirleach of New Ross Town Council, and Kate Overbeck VP Marketing and Events Irish America magazine.
The presentation was made to leader of the band Rafael Gutlerrez of an embroidered emblem, featuring a harp and a shamrock, used in the battalion's regimental flag, which they carried into battle.
When the Americans went to war with Mexico (1846-1848) over the territories of Texas and California, some of the Irish soldiers questioned why they had come from a poor Catholic country to kill poor Mexican Catholics. John 'Juan' Riley, from Clifden, Galway, and Patrick Dalton, formed Batallón de San Patricio and recruited between 150 to several hundred Irish soldiers to fight on the side of Mexico (German Catholics were also recruited and some African Americans).
The Battalion fought with great valour for a lost cause. When Mexico lost the war, the soldiers were convicted as deserters in a time of war and hanged en masse by the American army.
The San Patricios' story has always been a celebrated part of the history of Mexico, however it is a little known story in Ireland. There have been many commemorations of the San Patricios including an impressive monument that stands proudly in Mexico City.
Sean Reidy, CEO of the JFK Trust said: 'The induction of the San Patricio Regiment to the Hall of Fame is an exciting addition that showcases the diversity of the Irish emigration history. It is also testament to the bravery and compassion of those Irishmen who stood by their personal beliefs to aid a nation they identified with."
The band performed some rousing songs afterwards, receiving a great round of applause.