Chico Carrasquel Foundation Happy St. Patrick's Day !
Tuesday, 1st March 2006
This article first appeared on Vheadlines.com
The question is, why are there so many similarities between the Irish and the Venezuelans and why do we seem to like each other so much?
As an Irishman I figured that someone might know the answer to a question that has been bothering me for years.When I joined the US Peace Corps in 1962 my job was to teach sports and physical education to the kids in the barrio of Catia and later in Maracaibo in the village of Santa Rosa de Agua. After two years in Venezuela I traveled to Europe and spent most of my time in Ireland meeting relatives I had never met in Dublin, Cork and County Armagh where my great grandparents were born.
It was in Ireland that I first noticed the similarities between the Irish and the people of Venezuela. The language is different, the cultures are different and the countries are 4,500 miles apart yet there was so much in common between the two countries. I knew I had to find the answer and I finally did.
When I went to the National Pantheon in Caracas and saw the tomb of General Daniel Florence O'Leary next to the sacred remains of the Liberator, Simon Bolivar.
When I returned home I looked up Daniel Florence O'Leary and to my surprise saw the article published by Roy Carson in 1998 entitled "HOW VENEZUELAN INDEPENDENCE WAS WON BY THE IRISH."
Then I read about the battle of Carabobo in June of 1821 and learned how many Irishmen lost their lives helping Simon Bolivar win Venezuela's independence and how an Irishman, William Ferguson, gave up his life to protect the life of Simon Bolivar.
So it is a historical fact that since the 1800s the Irish have played a major role in Venezuela's history and independence and now, when I come to Caracas and visit the barrios with Chico Carrasquel, I will look at the people as if they were my cousins and because of the way the Irish proliferate they probably are!