Irish Ambassador Maeve von Heynitz, left, with Irish Minister of State for Public Health Hildegarde Naughton. Pulse News Mexico photo/Thérèse Margolis


Decked out in bright Kelly green and heralded in by the melodious droning sounds of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion Pipe and Drum Band, Irish Ambassador to Mexico Maeve von Heynitz celebrated her national day (two days early) on Wednesday, March 15, with a diplomatic reception at her residence.

Accompanying by Irish Minister of State for Public Health Hildegarde Naughton, who flew in from Dublin to help commemorate the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, Von Heynitz, in her welcome speech, talked about the close bilateral ties that have always linked Ireland and Mexico, ties which date back more than 200 years (although two-way diplomatic relations were not formerly established until 1974).

Von Heynitz briefly outlined areas of bilateral cultural cooperation and stressed that in the last 12 months combined two-way trade has increased by a whopping 14 percent, to more than $2.6 billion.

In 2022, Irish foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mexico also grew by $101 million.

Von Heynitz also pointed out that later this month the Irish Embassy will be hosting a cultural festival honoring Irish poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney both in Mexico City and Oaxaca, as well as a photo exhibition in Mexico City’s Lincoln Park in April.

“This year for Saint Patrick’s Day, Ireland is marking 100 years of global engagement in support of peace, multilateralism and the rules-based international order,” added Naughton.

“And we are marking three major anniversaries: the centenary of our Ireland joining the League of Nations, the 50th anniversary of our accession to the European Union and the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to the island of Ireland.”

Naughton went on to explain that the Good Friday Agreement “was a very significant shared achievement by the Irish and British governments.”

She likewise acknowledged the one-year anniversary of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, noting that “Ireland continues to stand by the people of Ukraine, offering support to those fleeing the conflict and working multilaterally to condemn Russia’s actions and impose sanctions in response to its aggression.”

Turning to bilateral relations, Naughton said that her country shares many values with Mexico, particularly in terms of multilateralism.

“Together with Mexico, we’ve recently finished a two-year term on the UN Security Council, where we advanced a number of issues, including on peace building, conflict prevention and drivers of conflict, such as climate change,” she said.

“We are particularly proud of the work which we drove forward together with Mexico on women, peace and security. And in May this year, we’ll be jointly hosting a lessons learned event on women, peace and security in Mexico City.”

Still, Naughton admitted that while the two-way friendship is strong in multilateral arenas, “binational cooperation in other areas could be strengthened.”

“That’s what is the driving spirit behind Ireland’s strategy in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was launched just over a year ago and which has Mexico at its heart,” she said.

“And I’m delighted to say that the strategy is already delivering … Three Irish ministers visited Mexico last year, and there were two Mexican ministerial visits to Ireland. And within Mexico, I’m delighted to formally announce that in the near future subject to the agreement of the Mexican government, we will open a new honorary consulate in both Monterey and Guadalajara.”

Although the Irish community in Mexico is relatively small – less than 5,000, including descendants of the martyred San Patricios, an artillery battalion made up of mainly Irish Catholics who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848 – a number of Irish immigrants have left their mark on Mexico, most notably Spanish viceroy Juan O’Donojú, muralists Juan O’Gorman and Pablo O’Higgins, real-life Zorro William Lamport and Álvaro Obregón (O’Brien), who served as president from 1920 to 1924.

Saint Patrick’s Day is the national holiday of the Emerald Isle, commemorating the death of that nation’s patron saint, Patrick Maewyn, in the year 461. (No one knows exactly when he was born, so the Irish celebrate his death anniversary instead.)

As a young bishop, the Welsh-born Patrick spent more than 30 years in Ireland and was almost single-handedly responsible for the widespread conversion of the island to Catholicism.

Over the centuries, many myths about the saint have flourished, including claims that he raised the dead and drove the snakes from Ireland, but few of these stories have been substantiated.

What is known is that Saint Patrick set up a massive network of schools and churches that laid the foundation for much of that European nation’s subsequent cultural and social development.

Originally, Saint Patrick’s Day was only celebrated in Ireland as a solemn religious holiday.

But by the 1700s, it began to evolve into a global secular holiday, particularly in the United States, where Irish immigrants organized Saint Paddy Day parades as a show of patriotism and a manifestation of their discontent with their low social status in America.

Today, Saint Patrick’s Day is recognized as an international celebration of Irish heritage and culture, with shamrocks and leprechauns symbolizing a universal passion and appreciation of the Land of Saints and Scholars.

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