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President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with Sr. Dom Orani Joao Temtesta , Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, at Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil. Chris Bellew / Fennells
St Patrick's Day

Brazil's Christ the Redeemer to go green for Paddy's Day

Irish emigration to Brazil was limited, but Diago O’Grady, Jorge Cowan and Bernardo O’Brien all made their mark.

RIO DE JANEIRO’S iconic Christ the Redeemer statue will ‘go green’ for the first time ever to mark St. Patrick’s day, President Michael D Higgins and Tourism Ireland have announced.

Speaking from Brazil, where President Higgins is conducting an official state visit, the CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said that the statue is the latest in a long line of international landmarks to celebrate Ireland’s national holiday by turning green.

“Our greening initiative has really captured the imagination of people everywhere and we are delighted to announce the addition of the famous South American landmark, the Christ the Redeemer statue, for 2013. “Our aim is to bring a smile to the world and to convey the message that Ireland offers the warmest of welcomes and tremendous fun.”

The statue is the latest in a long line of landmarks to turn green. Over the past three years, South Africa’s Table Mountain, New York’s Empire State Building and Niagara Falls have all turned green to mark Ireland’s national holiday.

A very limited number of Irish people emigrated to Brazil. According to the Society for Irish Latin American Studies, the first Irish settler in Brazil was Thomas Field, a Jesuit missionary credited with being the first priest to celebrate the Roman Catholic rites in the Americas.  A number of adventurers followed, including one William Cotter, who left Cork for Rio de Janeiro in 1827 with 2,400 men, their wives and children. The men were recruited to serve in the army in Argentina, but ended up mutinying once they hit shore.

Others, including Diago O’Grady and Jorge Cowan, were ‘Wild Geese’ who served as officers in the Portuguese navy but sailed for Brazil in 1808, according to Tim Pat Coogan in ‘Wherever Green is worn: The Story of the Irish diaspora.’

In pictures: Iconic sites go green for St Patrick’s Day>

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