Monday, March 17, 2008

Cubans Too Have a Bit of the Blarney

According to Irish folklore, the first Irishman was a Spaniard named Milo who sailed in a barrel from Iberia to [H]iber[n]ia. Recent DNA genome testing has revealed the legend to be true. As Bryan Sykes writes in his book Blood of the Isles (2006), "the genetic evidence shows that a large proportion of Irish Celts, on both the male and female side, did arrive from Iberia at or the same time as farming reached the Isles." Moreover, linguists also now believe that the Gaelic language (Goidelic) is derived from Euskadi (the Basque language).

The largest Irish migration prior to the Great Potato Famine of 1848 was to Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Irish, who were awarded Spanish citizenship on arriving in Spain as persecuted Catholics, joined the Spanish army's Hibernian regiments and became Spain's best soldiers and most famous generals. Many of these were posted in Cuba and married into the island's aristocracy, establishing our own great Irish-Cuban families (the O'Farrills, the O'Reillys, the Kindelans, the Madans, the Duanys, the O'Gabans, the Coppingers and the O'Naughtens).


Four Captains General of Cuba were of Irish origin (Nicolás Mahy; Sebastián Kindelán; Leopoldo O'Donnell and Luís Prendergast). On the other end of the social scale, some 378 Irish laborers contracted in New York built Cuba's first railroad in 1835. They also hold the distinction of staging the island's first strike. Most remained in Cuba because Spain refused to repatriate them.

In Cuba's Wars of Independence, the most famous of the many Irishmen who fought for our freedom was Canadian-born General William A.C. Ryan, who after a short but brilliant career as inspector and chief of calvary in Camagüey was captured aboard the American vessel Virginius and executed by the Spanish at age 30; and Captain "Dynamite Johnny" O'Brien, owner of the steamer Bermuda, one of the most daring and successful gunrunners to Cuba who also safely transported General Calixto García there.

Also of Irish extraction was the poet Bonifacio Byrne, whose "Ode to the Cuban Flag" is the most famous Cuban patriotic poem.

Eamon de Valera, Father of the Republic of Eire, was the Brooklyn-born son of a 19th century Cuban émigré and an Irishwoman.

The Irish returned the favor with Ernesto Guevara y Lynch (how appropriate!) but we shall forgive them that this day.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

35 comments:

Ms Calabaza said...

MaT,

“Here's to a long life, and a merry one; a quick death, and an easy one; a pretty girl, and an honest one; a cold beer - and another one!”

Have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Agustin Farinas said...

MAT,
wasn't a guy named O'Donnell the architect or builder of the Morro Castle in Havana? I remember something from Cuba's History to that effect. Is this true?
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of our friends on the RCAB!

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Agustín:

You are right. The lighthouse on Morro Castle was built by Captain General Leopoldo O'Donnell in 1843.

Charlie Bravo said...

There are many things that hold the Irish and Cubans very close together:
Look at an archetypical Irish and try not to be amazed that he looks like a "gallego colora'o" or look at a "black Irish" and try not think that the looks are those of a fair skinned Cuban with black jet hair.
Then Ireland and Cuba are the only two islands in the world devoid of any poisonous or dangerous beast. The two islands were green, emerald green, until fidel castro burnt the fields of Cuba down to that unfamiliar shade of ashen green, greyish-yellow and lime-brown. The Irish, like modern day Cubans, were not considered either white or refugees in this country.
There's nothing more Irish of Scottish than the bagpipes. There's nothing more Galician than the gaita, therefore a Gallego is called a "gaito". All about and around the norther coast of Spain the bagpipes are part of the sonic landscape.... and one morning in Cuba I was taking a sunny nap in the malecon, when I was woken up by the sound of the bagpipes. It was a guy I knew since childhood. Black. His Gallego grandfather played the gaita in every function of el Centro Gallego, and his "negrito" was an accomplished learner.... One can hear a gaita in the song "en todas partes" (everywhere) of the album with the soundtrack of Habana Blues (available at Amazon.com)
Then you have the African component. Yes, there are some African genes in Ireland. The Roman legionaries that stayed behind in Ireland were African. We know the story of the African that became Cuban. Both the Irish and the Cubans are fiercely independent and in both islands foreigners never feel foreigner. To put the last touch in the cake, nobody knows if Atlantis was in Cuba or in Ireland. Well, nobody knows for sure where it was....

Anonymous said...

more about the irish and cuba

http://www.irlandeses.org/0711fernandezmoya1.htm

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Charlie:

The real black Irish are to be found in Jamaica and the Bahamas. Like the gallegos to whom you compare them, the Irish had a penchant for black women and have left a numerous progeny on those islands. Like the gallegos, also, they did not disown their mixed-race children or sell them into slavery like the English.

Ms Calabaza said...

I find a lot of similarities between Irish and Gallego food. I have a great recipe book Culinaria de Espana which illustrates and explains where the recipes originated from. The ones from northwest Spain could easily be eaten in an Irish Pub...for instance; caldo gallego, lamb stew, shepherd's pie, chorizo (bangers) and not to mention all the seafood from the coast...

Vana said...

Happy St Patrick's Day! to all my friends here and to the Irish, great post Manuel as always I learned something, like how linked we are to the Irish, I had no clue!

Agustin Farinas said...

Friends,
While we are on this subject, the surname "Moran" is pretty common to both Spain and Ireland. Remember the deceased notorious ganster "Bugsy" Moran? He was a member of the Irish gangs.
I heard many times the name "el Gallego Moran" while I lived in Cuba during my youth. And while I lived in New YorK City, I was friends with an Irish guy from work, by the last name of Moran.
During one St. Patrick's day celebration after he had downed a few, he talked about one of his ancestors who had swimmed ashore after the Spanish Armada floundered off the coast off Ireland. According to his tale, after hereached the shore, he decided to stay, and ended married an Irishwoman and never went back to Spain, hence the origins of his surname. I found the story very credible since I had my own input on the surname from that period of my life in Cuba, and was familiar with the surname Moran of Spanish origin.
If I remember correctly from my ancient history, the early Spaniards were from Celts and Iberians origin. Perhaps there is the link of the bagpipes connection we all know about between Spain and Ireland.

Anonymous said...

And the contemporary Irish have risen from misery to incredible prosperity. May we follow our Irish cousins soon!
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone.

Mamey Verde for a day

Esteban Colvert said...

Wow MAT! Once again I'm impressed.
I know I've got a lot of Cuban in me (since my parents were born there) but there may be some Irish too? That may explain my penchant for mulatas (but they have be "rica")! I'm printing this and taking it to my parents while I have Mojitos with green O'Douls chasers (I'm not that Irish). To all the good people here have a fun and safe San Patricio's Day.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Mamey Verde:

You are absolutely right. Before 1959, Cuba led Ireland (Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal) in all indices of social-economic development (we won't even mention the Eastern bloc countries). Now, Cuba is decades behind even Albania.

Anonymous said...

Charlie: An aside...I just answered your request from 3/16/08 re. the cruel onslaught against the soccer players who opted not to go back to Castro's zoo. Sadly, the idiots who criticize or make fun of the players are Cuban too.

Mamey

carlos miller said...

This is a great post with some great comments.

As I've mentioned before, I spent 18 months in Dublin in my late 20s and I will always carry a piece of Ireland in my heart.

I had settled in Ireland after traveling for more than six months throughout Europe, including several months in Spain.

I was drawn to Ireland because of its literary tradition, its appreciation of the arts and most of all, its people.

The connection between Ireland and Spain goes back centuries. The Galicians and Asturians are actually Celtic in origin, which is why they have "el gaita", their own version of Celtic bagpipes.

I managed to pick up a few Gaelic phrases in Ireland, what they call "Irish" for it is a different language than the Gaelic spoken in Scotland or Wales.

I was always fascinated by the common greeting, "Conas ata tu", which means "How are you".

The similarities to "Como estas tu" are striking.

The Mexicans also have a very strong connection with the Irish, much of it stemming from Los San Patricios brigade in the Mexican-American War. These were Irish immigrants who deserted the U.S.Army to fight with the Mexicans.

They had been persecuted in this country because they were Catholics. And they had been oppressed by the English for so long, that they did not want to partake in the oppression of Mexicans.

And speaking of El Gaita, one of my favorite photographs I've ever taken was of a Cuban Gaitero with El Moro in the background.

You can see this photo by clicking on my name in this comment because Blogger doesn't allow me to post the actual link.

I ended up treating this guy to beers all night. We still communicate via email.

Sully said...

i was just looking for information about the similarities between irish and mexican culture and read your post. there is at least one book written that asserts that irish missionaries traveled to mexico at the end of the 6th century. all i know is, every irish person i know loves tequila, including myself.

Anonymous said...

Captain General Leopoldo O'Donnell, 1st Duke of Tetuan 1st Count of Lucena, 1st Viscount of Aliaga, Grandee of Spain,He was of Irish paternal descent, a descendant of Calvagh O'Donnell, chieftain of Tyrconnell, Ireland

Anonymous said...

Eamon de Valera father wasn't Cuban but Spanish.

Anonymous said...

Eamon de Valera father wasn't Cuban but Spanish.

Armando H. Corbelle said...

Don't forget the scholar and writer, Carlos Eire.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Anonymous:

You can be both Cuban and Spanish. In the 19th century, when Spain ruled Cuba, all Cubans were legally Spaniards. That did not change until independence in 1902 when Cubans were given the choice of either retaining their Spanish citizenship or adopting Cuban citizenship.

As recently as 2008, Spain awarded Spanish citizenship to the grandchildren of Spaniards and their descendents, which literally "grandfathered" nearly 3 million Cubans. Ethnically, of course, more than 90% of Cubans (even those who are not white)are of Spanish ancestry, and at least 50% are exclusively of Spanish ancestry.

Very little is known about Eamon de Valera's father. One fact which is undisputed is that he immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba.

Anonymous said...

Attractive section of content. I simply stumbled

upon your site and in accession capital to say that I acquire actually enjoyed account
your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I fulfillment you get

right of entry to persistently fast.
Look into my web blog - Spain Vs ireland Time

Anonymous said...

I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this website.



Thanks , I will try and check back more often.
How frequently you update your website?
My web blog :: Benidorm,

Anonymous said...

Your home is valueble for me. Thanks!…
My site :: Http://midlake.net/

Anonymous said...

Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely
long) so I guess

I'll just sum it up what I had written and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.

I as well am an

aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for inexperienced blog

writers? I'd really appreciate it.
Also visit my web page ... shreveport louisiana

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was
a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added

agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?
My web site ... www.veggierecipevideos.com

Anonymous said...

Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your web site

accidentally, and I'm shocked why this

coincidence didn't happened in advance! I bookmarked it.
Feel free to visit my page - pixnet.net

Anonymous said...

Hi, i believe that i noticed you visited my site thus i

came to “return the desire”.I'm attempting to find issues to enhance my web site!I guess its

ok to use a few of your ideas!!
My page ... divxonline.info

Anonymous said...

I was very pleased to find this

internet-site.I needed to thanks in your time for this wonderful read!
! I undoubtedly enjoying each

little bit of it and I've you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you

weblog post.
Also visit my blog post : miyamotos.com

Anonymous said...

You completed some fine points there. I did a search on the


issue and found nearly all

folks will consent with your blog.
Feel free to surf my website : hdro-wiki.de

Anonymous said...

Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this
post plus the rest of the site is also really good.

Here is my web page: safe diets
my web site > safe diets

Anonymous said...

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read something like this before.
So nice

to search out any individual with some original ideas

on this subject. realy thanks for beginning this up.
this web site is something that's wanted on the web, someone with just a little originality. helpful job for bringing something new to the internet!
Also see my web site: http://kentotsunrise.blogspot.ru

Anonymous said...

Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I in finding It

really useful & it helped me out a lot. I am
hoping to offer one thing again and help others such as you helped me.
Here is my site ; HTTP://hdzbhzjg.zpln.forum.mythem.es/

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another excellent article. Where else could

anybody get that type of information in such an ideal way
of writing? I've a

presentation next week, and I'm on the look for such
info.
My webpage - blaye-evolution.com

Anonymous said...

It’s truly a nice and helpful piece of

information. I’m satisfied that you shared this helpful

information with us. Please keep us up to date like this.
Thank you for sharing.

Review my page :: Armsoc.org

Anonymous said...

Everyone loves what you guys are usually up too. This

type of clever work and coverage! Keep up the great works guys I've you guys to my blogroll.

Here is my page - facbooks.ir