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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 1 April, 2020

'Did you know Roger Casement helped to liberate natives in the Amazon jungle?'

Ireland and Peru have so much in common, including our similar history writes Peruvian in Ireland, Gianmarco Alvarado.

Gianmarco Alvarado Peruvian in Ireland

Ireland’s 1,000-strong Peruvian community is celebrating this weekend and to mark the occasion, Peruvian in Ireland, Gianmarco Alvadaro, has written us a piece about how much our two countries have in common. There’s a Roger Casement liberation link and a shared love of the humble spud.

WHAT DO YOU think about, when you think about Peru? Machu Picchu? Pan pipes? Hamsters?

Actually Peru is much more than that and we have a lot in common with Ireland. We have the most incredible food you will ever taste, the catchiest music, hospitable and warm people who love to party and a decent football team. Okay, maybe not the last one.

Peruvian spuds

Perhaps our biggest link with the Emerald Isle is potatoes. Although Ireland has long been associated with potatoes, Peru is the ancestral home of spuds.

Those floury, buttery, tasty wonders were imported to Europe by the Spanish from Peru. We produce over 3,000 of types of potatoes: white, yellow, purple, red, blue. Every shape, size and texture you could imagine.

That’s another thing. We are obsessed about food. Ask a Peruvian about food and expect to have your ear bent. We’ll start talking about ceviche (that’s fish marinated in lime juice), papas huancaina (potatoes served in a spicy cream), and lomo saltado (sauteed beef). “Buenaso” (it means how tasty).

Shared history with Ireland

We Peruvians, like the Irish, are passionate about our history and culture. When Ireland marked the 1916 centenary last year, we marked 195 years of our independence.

We were honoured to be invited to Aras an Uachtarain to meet President Michael D Higgins, before his first official visit to Peru, to mark this double celebration.

We spoke with President Higgins about the Irish revolutionary Roger Casement, who helped to liberate natives in the Amazon jungle of Peru/Colombia before he returned to Europe to help gather arms for the Easter Rising.

Our own Nobel prize winning author Mario Vargas Llosa wrote about Casement for his book, The Dream of the Celt.

The Peruvian Irish Community Association

We established the Peruvian Irish Community Association (PICA) to introduce our culture to Ireland. Earlier this year, the PICA participated in the St Patrick’s Parade for the first time and danced in the cultural festival, The Big Day Out, in Merrion Square. The new Irish-Peruvian generation of children performed traditional Marinera, Afro-Peruvian and Huayno dances with colourful costumes.

The Peruvians who have made Ireland their home have found employment as scientists, researchers, musicians, accountants, engineers, nurses, chefs, designers, and entrepreneurs. Some of us have Irish wives or Irish husbands, or we may have simply fallen in love with this country.

We share the same family values and the same sarcastic, “slagging” sense of humour.

National day

Yesterday, July 28 was our national day, our St Patrick’s Day if you wish. It is the day we recognise the red and white of our flag, our nation, our independence, and our freedom.

This weekend we will celebrate with our family and friends by honouring the traditions, dances, music and food from our country. There will be many parties of many different groups held in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Belfast and beyond.

We want to invite Irish people to join us to celebrate with us our Peruvian’s Day, to try “rico” Peruvian food made with local Irish products, to dance with us and make a toast with our traditional Pisco Sour – a cocktail made with the Peruvian spirit called Pisco and lime juice. Salud.

Gianmarco Alvarado is a member of the Peruvian community in Ireland. You can find out more about activities’ of the Peruvian community here.

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About the author:

Gianmarco Alvarado  / Peruvian in Ireland

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