The Irish heroes of Aztlan: The San Patricio Batallón (music videos)

by Soy Capitan on March 17, 2014 in Cultura, Video


This corrido by Orange County Celtic-rock homies The Fenians tells the brave and tragic story of the San Patricios, the St. Patrick’s Battalion, formed and led by Jon Riley, a unit of 200 or so mostly Catholic Irish immigrants who fought as part of the Mexican Army against the United States in the Mexican–American War. Most of the battalion’s members had deserted or defected from the United States Army. (Wikipedia.)

Scots-British post-punk The Wakes Band offer their version of the story next. The video’s not much to look at but the lyrics are killer, so read along below:


The lyrics to St. Patrick’s Battalion:

My name is John Riley
I’ll have your ear only a while
I left my dear home in Ireland
It was death, starvation or exile
And when I got to America
It was my duty to go
Enter the Army and slog across Texas
To join in the war against Mexico

It was there in the pueblos and hillsides
That I saw the mistake I had made
Part of a conquering army
With the morals of a bayonet blade
So in the midst of these poor, dying Catholics
Screaming children, the burning stench of it all
Myself and two hundred Irishmen
Decided to rise to the call

From Dublin City to San Diego
We witnessed freedom denied
So we formed the Saint Patrick Battalion
And we fought on the Mexican side

We marched ‘neath the green flag of Saint Patrick
Emblazoned with “Erin Go Bragh”
Bright with the harp and the shamrock
And “Libertad para Mexicana”
Just fifty years after Wolftone
Five thousand miles away
The Yanks called us a Legion of Strangers
And they can talk as they may

From Dublin City to San Diego
We witnessed freedom denied
So we formed the Saint Patrick Battalion
And we fought on the Mexican side

We fought them in Matamoros
While their volunteers were raping the nuns
In Monterey and Cerro Gordo
We fought on as Ireland’s sons
We were the red-headed fighters for freedom
Amidst these brown-skinned women and men
Side by side we fought against tyranny
And I daresay we’d do it again

From Dublin City to San Diego
We witnessed freedom denied
So we formed the Saint Patrick Battalion
And we fought on the Mexican side

We fought them in five major battles
Churobusco was the last
Overwhelmed by the cannons from Boston
We fell after each mortar blast
Most of us died on that hillside
In the service of the Mexican state
So far from our occupied homeland
We were heroes and victims of fate

From Dublin City to San Diego
We witnessed freedom denied
So we formed the Saint Patrick Battalion
And we fought on the Mexican side

And check out this narrative version by Irish legends The Chieftains, with spoken lyrics and Spanish subtitles:

And here are the drums and pipers of today’s Mexican St. Patrick’s Battalion:

{ 1 comment }

Herrumbroso Filero March 17, 2014 at 7:36 AM

I’d just like to point out that there is a piping tradition in Spain see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galician_gaita think Carlos Nuñez http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1bffYZdRm0 .

This tradition extends back to pre-Roman Spain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtiberians and many of them joined Hannibal in his attack against Rome. This pocho’s father’s family retained a conscious link back to the Gallaeci http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallaeci. They left Galicia in the middle of the sixteen century for El Ombligo de la Luna…

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