In Mexico in the 1840s, Clifden man John Reilly led a band of Irish soldiers called The San Patricios, in an effort to help Mexico repulse a military invasion by the USA.
In an effort to expand its territories, acquire the valuable lands of California, and for others create possible more lands for slavery, the United States engineered a war with Mexico, designed to deprive the Mexican state of much of its territory.
The Mexican-American War was fought between 1846 and 1848 and a new album by The Chieftains will commemorate the Irishmen who fought in this war on the Mexican side.
This Irish force were know as The Saint Patrick’s Battalion, but are known to historians and remembered by Mexicans as The San Patricios.
Led by John Reilly from Clifden, Co Galway, the Irishmen were considered deserters from the US army, with 48 of them hanged after the Mexican defeat at the battle of Churubusco in August 1847.
However The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney considers The San Patricios heroes.
“The last place they wanted to be was in Mexico, killing their fellow Catholics,” he said. “The fact it was a big country, America, beating up on a smaller country, Mexico, reminded them of the situation between Ireland and England. That made them sympathetic to the Mexicans.”
Moloney first heard the story of the San Patricios in the 1980s but it was not until recently he decided The Chieftains should record an album telling their tale. The group have been working on the album since and actor Liam Neeson has contributed by doing a number of monologues.
The album will be a mix of Mexican, American and Irish music and will feature contributions from Ry Cooder, Moya Brennan, and Linda Ronstadt.