Mayo town backing Argentina in World Cup final

Foxford-born ‘Almirante’ Brown an Argentinian hero

One south Mayo town is bedecked in blue and white this weekend as it prepares to take on the world and win.

When Argentina turns out against Germany in the World Cup football final, Foxford intends to "invoke the spirit" of its famous son, Admiral William Brown.

The “Almirante”, as he is known, has thousands of streets, schools, pitches named after him in the south American state.

Brown, who was born in Foxford in 1778, is a hero of Argentinian independence and founder of the South American state’s navy.


"We remember him for defeating the Spanish, and we know that he helped us long before Ireland gained its own independence," Mayo's only Argentinian resident, Rafaela Calabrese (44),says.

Ms Calabrese, who is training to be a chartered accountant, is originally from Santiago del Estero - the oldest city founded by Spanish settlers in Argentina.

She lives in Castlebar, but is well familiar with Foxford’s annual tribute to the “alimirante”, and its bronze bust, museum and memorial park located in the town centre.

She intends to be in Guiry’s pub - also known as the “Argentinian embassy” - in Foxford tomorrow.

“Like tango, football is not something you can escape in Argentina,”she laughs.

Local businessman, the late JJ O’Hara, was instrumental in developing the Argentinian connection, and a statue of Brown is also located on Dublin’s Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

"Brown is to Argentina what Patrick Pearse is to us," Oliver Murphy of the Admiral Brown Society in Foxford says.

As maritime historian Dr John de Courcy Ireland noted in his biography of the Mayoman, Brown ordered his piper to strike up “St Patrick’s Day in the Morning” after one dawn attack on Spanish ships on the river Plate in March, 1814.

Murphy and company are hoping that Brown's successful strategies and tactics in battle will be adopted by Javier Mascherano and company.

However, he insists any German visitors to the town will be made “very welcome”, despite the rivalry.

"We've also got Mayo playing against Galway in the Connacht football final in McHale Park in Castlebar tomorrow, preceded by Mayo minors against Roscommon, so it's going to be a great day for roaring all round,"he adds.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times