‘An important and necessary volume on the role played by Irish men and women in the emergence of the new, modern and independent republics of Latin America … a welcome contribution to the literature on the history of our exiles and their descendants, this is an exciting and accessible book that is a pleasure to read.’ (From the foreword by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland)
The epic story of the forgotten Irish men and women who changed the face of Latin America forever.
In the early nineteenth century, thousands of volunteers left Ireland behind to join the fight for South American independence. Lured by the promise of adventure, fortune and the opportunity to take a stand against colonialism, they braved the treacherous Atlantic crossing to join the ranks of the Liberator, Símon Bolívar, and became instrumental in helping oust the Spanish from Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Today, the names of streets, towns, schools, and football teams on the continent bear witness to their influence.
But it was not just during wars of independence that the Irish helped transform Spanish America. Irish soldiers, engineers and politicians, who had fled Ireland to escape religious and political persecution in their homeland, were responsible for changing the face of the Spanish colonies in the Americas during the eighteenth century. They included a chief minister of Spain, Richard Wall, a chief inspector of the Spanish Army, Alexander O’Reilly, and the viceroy of Peru, Ambrose O’Higgins.
Whether telling the stories of armed revolutionaries like Bernardo O’Higgins and James Rooke or retracing the steps of trailblazing women like Eliza Lynch and Camila O’Gorman, Paisanos revisits a forgotten chapter of Irish history and, in so doing, reanimates the hopes, ambitions, ideals and romanticism that helped fashion the New World and sowed the seeds of Ireland’s revolutions to follow.
Tim Fanning is an author and researcher based in Dublin. In addition to working for a number of Irish and Spanish publications, he is the author of The Fethard-On-Sea Boycott.