There are many cultural parallels between Mexico and Ireland. In both countries, Christianity is blended with older pagan mythologies. Many of the Mexican artefacts and crafts centre upon ritual, which resonates deeply in the Irish psyche. Festivals, ritual dances, and pilgrimage are deeply rooted in both cultures. Ireland has Samhain and Lughnasa, and a rich history of dance, poetry and music. Likewise, Mexico has a multiplicity of decorative mask traditions that arise out of rituals such as the Conquest and Moors. These forms of expression are deeply connected to that potent mix of ancient myth and Christianity in both countries. The connection is deep and the struggle is shared. Amazingly, both nations’ creativity flourished under the boot heel of oppression. Casa Maria represents, in some small way, a space where freedom and truth will flourish, surrounded and nourished by beautiful objects.
In an ambiance of Mexican folklore and traditions, Casa Maria honours the famous St. Patrick’s Battalion, a group of Irishmen, who fought as part of the Mexican Army in 1846. Thanks to the remarkable, revelatory, and intrepid historical researches of Dr. Michael Hogan, their flag still flies. In The Irish Soldiers of Mexico, it is described thusly:
‘Composed of green silk…the image of St. Patrick embroidered in silver on one side, with a shamrock and harp on the other.’
United against imperial expansion, and bound by their Christian heritage, Mexico and Ireland are sympathetic cultures. The San Patricio’s are a symbol both of shared struggle, and deep cultural affinities. Both countries have rich artistic traditions, perfected in the crucible of national struggle, which are justifiably famous worldwide to this day.
The story of the San Patricio’s is fascinating and gripping. The battalion, as Dr. Hogan notes, is justifiably famous in Mexico.
Thanks to the labours of Dr. Hogan, the Irish who swam across the Rio Grande before the first battle, and those who switched sides as the conflict raged, are no longer seen as traitors. The history is now clearer, particularly with respect to the true motivations of the San Patricio’s. These men were committed warriors and officers in a cause in which they believed. They fought bravely and with great skill, and their deeds remain famous in Mexico to this day.