There were rapturous scenes in Foxford on Friday as Lautrano Martinez of Argentina scored the winning penalty against the Netherlands to advance to the FIFA World Cup semi-final against Croatia on Tuesday. There were similar scenes in the town the previous weekend when Argentina beat Australia! You may wonder what this has to do with tourism and with North Mayo specifically. For anyone who doesn’t already know, a wonderful historic connection exists between the small North Mayo town of Foxford and the second largest country in South America – Argentina. The common denominator between the two places is a man called Admiral William Brown. This connection is as strong in 2022 as it was in the 1800’s. A recent video from a small Foxford pub celebrating the last Argentinian win was viewed more than 500,000 times in less than 48 hours on Twitter!
The Historic Connection
Admiral William Brown more commonly known in Argentina as Almirante Guillermo Brown was born in Foxford on the 22nd June 1777. He went on to become a national hero, “the Father of the Argentine Navy” and the most popular foreigner in the continent discovered by Columbus. Admiral Brown secured his lasting place in the hearts of the people whose independence he furthered so ably by his heroic deeds during The Argentine War of Independence from Spain.
Today, one of the longest streets in Buenos Aires is not only called after him. It is dominated by a replica of his home lovingly recreated on a hill overlooking the city he once saved from destruction La Casa Amarilla / the Yellow House houses the Instituto Nacional Browniano. Another major city, a number of towns, four football clubs, over 1,200 streets and hundreds of schools and statues also bear the name of this incredible Mayo man.
The Strong Lasting Bond
This longstanding connection and love and respect between the two places is more than evident to this day. Several recent ‘Good Luck to Argentina from Foxford’ tweets by the Admiral Brown Society in Foxford have been shared or interacted with more than 30,000 times globally. A video taken in Guiry’s Pub in Foxford celebrating the most recent Argentina win has been viewed over 500,000 times.
The Gift of Friendship Across the Ocean…in Memory of Admiral William Brown
Last weekend, this jersey, with the simple caption: “Hope Argentina win today… proudly supported by The Admiral Brown Society and everyone in Foxford Co Mayo Ireland we have the jersey ready” attracted nearly 13,000 likes and was the start of a very special public display of affection between both nations. View tweet here
Margaret Reilly from the Admiral Brown Society in Foxford kindly shared the story of how this jersey came about. “A number of years ago a group of teaching / administration staff from St Patricio’s school in Rosario, Argentina came to visit Foxford. This was part of an education exchange programme which is run by The Admiral Brown Society”. This amazing programme enables teachers from Argentina come to Foxford/Mayo and teach in local schools and vice versa. “This particular group including Patsy Gorina and Anna Harte were hosted by John McHugh, the Principal of Foxford NS where they then taught lessons. Upon departure the Argentinian teachers gifted the jerseys to Irish teachers“.
This beautiful story shows the legacy of Admiral Brown who was born her245 years ago. Patsy and Anna from Argentina are still in contact with the Admiral Brown Group in Foxford. Together, they are a prime example of how the international connections are being maintained between the two countries. They are experiencing the gift of education, the sharing of cultures and friendship and simultaneously, children are being enriched by this educational experience.
No one knows what will happen in the future. However, a few things are for certain. The special relationships that have been developed and friendships forged between the people of Foxford and Argentina will continue to flourish. Foxford will be a hive of activity on Tuesday evening when Argentina takes on Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals. Lastly, the blue and white flags will fly high in the town in honour of their shared hero….Admiral William Brown.
From a tourism perspective, the possibilities are endless. In July of this year Foxford celebrated the 245th Anniversary of the birth of Admiral William Brown. They welcomed members of the Argentine Navy and the Argentinian Ambassador Moira Wilkinson to the town for a commemorative ceremony. Read more about this here. Similar events have also happened in the past. We are excited for what may happen in the future. It can only be good for Foxford and North Mayo in general.