Irish founder of Argentina’s navy remembered as tall ship sails into Dublin

Members of public can view ship moored at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay

 

A tall ship which serves as a school for the Argentinian navy has arrived for a short visit to Ireland, highlighting naval links between the two countries.

The Argentinean frigate Libertad is moored at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, and open for visitors until Sunday.

The ship is travelling the world on a 196 day-long voyage, touching ports in Brazil, the United States, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom before arriving in Dublin Wednesday morning.

The journey forms part of the last year of training for Argentinean midshipmen and women.

Captain Ignacio Martin Errecaborde, commanding officer of the frigate, said it was a special trip as 2016 marked the 200th anniversary of Argentinean independence. “They call this the bicentennial journey.”, he said.

The special connection between Ireland and the ship stems from the founder of the Argentinean navy, William Brown, from Foxford, Co Mayo. Admiral Brown, as he became, was a seaman and trader who offered his help to Argentineans fighting for independence from Spain during the early 1800s.

In spite of limited military training, he proved to be an excellent naval strategist, winning several battles.

At his funeral, then Argentinean president Bartolome Mitre said “Brown in his lifetime, standing on the quarterdeck of his ship, was worth a fleet to us.”

Captain Errecaborde said: “As a naval officer, it is very exciting to be in the land that gave us [ADMIRAL] Brown, who in spite of being born in Ireland was a consummate Argentinean, an example of modesty, courage and dedication to duty.

“As Argentineans, we have a special appreciation for Ireland,” he added, pointing out that there is a large community of Irish descendants in Argentina who are “well liked and appreciated as hard-working people”.

The captain will travel to Foxford with the Argentinean ambassador, Laura Bernal, and a delegation of 52 midshipmen and women on Friday. They will be received by the Admiral Brown Society and Mayo County Council.

There will be a small ceremony at Admiral Brown’s bust where a wreath will be laid. The delegation will also visit the Admiral Brown Promenade, which was opened last year.

Members of the public can go on board the frigate in Dublin where sailors will explain different manoeuvres. There is also an art exhibition and the chance to learn more about Argentina’s culture - including a small rugby showcase - and tourist destinations.

* Vanesa Martinez is on placement at The Irish Times under the BSA/SFI media fellowship programme