Ireland and Argentina Rising- 1916 Commemoration

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Last September, we said goodbye to Her Excellency Silvia Merega who had served as Ambassador of Argentina in Ireland for the last 2 years. She left for have a well deserved retirement. We had the great honour of dancing for Ambassador Merega on countless occasions during her term of office and were always impressed by her friendly smile and her easy ability to relate to everyone. We were very pleased that she invited us to say goodbye to her at the Mansion House.
In the last months, we have been asked to partner with RTE for the massive 1916 commemoration events on March 28th. We are deeply honoured to have been asked to be involved in such an historic and important celebration of Irish history.
While visiting the RTE studios, Ambassador Merega’s wonderful farewell speech echoed in my mind. Argentina, she reminded us, has the 5th largest Irish diaspora in the world, and the largest non- english speaking one. Incredible! Even the first admiral to the Argentinian navy was Irish- Admiral Brown. Argentina has it’s own hurling team. (and they are quite good apparently- although I must admit that I am not an expert in these matters) Many of the most accomplished polo players in the world are Irish, as are many of the best polo horses. Almost one million people in Argentina are directly descended from the Irish.
We have seen this connection between the two countries at work. Every year, we are invited to perform at the Longford-Westmeath Asado. This is a huge celebration of Argentinian culture. The venue is packed full of hundreds of people, many of whom have relatives or close ties to Argentina. It is wonderful to think that there are streets in Buenos Aires named after the Irish clans of Kavanagh, Walsh and Connolly and that there is even a football team named after the great Admiral Brown.
Dance is another way in which the two cultures are linked. Both countries have a famous social dance that has travelled the world to great acclaim. Both dances are being embraced by people from all over the world in increasing numbers. The milonga is really the Argentinian equivalent to a celli. Both tango and Irish dancing are dances of the people. Both dances transcended poverty and suffering- and were a defiant expression of identity in the face of turbulence and oppression.
We are greatly looking forward to celebrating the brave men and women of 1916 and sharing with them Argentina’s famous dance. Both countries dancing to freedom in a new age without limits or restraints.