September 18, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall
My friends in Eclectic Revival have a new CD being released soon. One of the songs on the album is their moving and inspiring version of David Rovics’s song about the St. Patrick’s Battalion. The first time I heard the song, I realized just how much of a gap existed in my knowledge of history. Due to the Anglo-American influence on my Canadian education, I had no idea that the San Patricios had ever existed. Odds are, neither had you.
The St. Patrick’s Battalion was formed in 1846 by John Riley who had left English-occupied Ireland and emigrated to the United States. Soon after his arrival, the Mexican-American War broke out, initiated by a US invasion of what had been Mexican territory. Riley saw what was happening, viewing with a sense of deja vu. He had just seen the same thing happen to his Irish homeland. Along with dozens of other expatriate Irishmen he established the St. Patrick’s Battalion and fought on behalf of Mexico.
The San Patricios have a brief but colourful history. Their’s is an inspiring story that hasn’t been shared or recognized nearly enough. At least not by those who aren’t of Mexican-Irish decent. But the Mexirish people, they remember. (Yes, Mexirish is a word. Who told you it’s not?)
Personally, I think the shared history of Mexico and Ireland has been buried and ignored for too long. It’s time to showcase the cultural link between these two proud peoples. And what better way to demonstrate joint heritage with cultural sensitivity than with a themed restaurant?
Just picture it…
As you curiously and cautiously approach the front door of the new eatery that appeared in your neighbourhood seemingly overnight (as themed restaurants tend to to do), you hear a mariachi band playing a lively rendition of “Danny Boy.” A red-haired twenty year-old in a poncho greets you as you enter.
“Top o’ the mornin’ to ye, Amigo. Welcome to Jose O’Malley’s Taco Pub, where our motto is, ‘Leprechauns? We don’ need no steenking leprechauns.’ Enjoy our Guinness and chimichanga combo or try our micro-brewery special, a cold and spicy pint of Chalupa Stout.”
The whole pace is adorned with shamrock pinatas and crucifixes. Paintings on the walls depict playful pairings such as a chess match between Cheech Marin and Bob Geldolf, or Bono and Robert Rodriguez playing Yahtzee. The lunch special is a plate of potato tacos called Potacos.
You step up to the bar and order a Captain Riley, which turns out to be a shooter made with tequila and Bailey’s Irish Cream. It’s not bad, so you order another, with a Kilkenny cerveza chaser. By the fifth round you’ve completely forgotten that I started out telling you about the song. You’ll have to wait until the new CD is out to hear the Eclectic Revival version. If you’re lucky, you’ll sober up by the time it’s released. Or you could just go see them perform live.
Meanwhile, try to be nice to each other.