Stamp immortalises Monaghan’s original Chile hero

29 October 2010 One Comment by The Northern Standard

Before the Chilean miners, there was Don Juan MacKenna!

The Monaghan man who played an integral role in the independence struggle of the South American nation in the 19th century could justifiably lay claim to be Chile’s original hero – and his status as a liberator has now been immortalised in a set of stamps produced by An Post which are officially released today.

Our photograph was taken in the gallery of Monaghan Co Museum, where a display of aretefacts relating to John MacKenna and the importance of his role in the liberation of Chile are on vew.

Pictured beside a large-scale facsimile of the new stamp are Co Mayor Jackie Crowe, Museum Curator Liam Bradley, and Museum staff members Theresa Loftus, Noel Breakey, Pauline Tilson and Andy Hogg.

Along with Bernardo O’Higgins, who is also commemorated in the An Post stamp issue, John (Juan) MacKenna played a crucial role in Chile’s drive for independence. MacKenna, from Willville House, Aghananimy, Co Monaghan was Commandant-General of the Chilean army.

Born in 1771, he left Ireland at the young age of eleven to be educated at the Military College in Barcelona.  He was appointed cadet in the Regiment Irlanda in the Spanish army and was made captain when he was only 23.

In 1796 John MacKenna left Spain and travelled to South America.  He arrived in Chile and used his military engineering training to rebuild the city of Osorno, of which he later became Governor.

In 1809 he married in Santiago.  Shortly after, war broke out between Spain and its South American colonies.  John MacKenna took the side of the rebels and fought alongside General Bernardo O’Higgins as his General of Artillery. MacKenna was a key military figure and was for a time Commandant-General of O’Higgins army. He fought and was victorious against the Spanish Army at Membrillor, a victory which led to the Treaty of Peace.

After a coup d’état in 1814 he was exiled to Argentina and died in a duel in Buenos Aires.  Today he is a celebrated liberator of Chile and his descendants are prominent in Chilean political and cultural life.

The stamp set and a specially commissioned first day cover (FDC) is available from main post offices or by logging on to www.irishstamps.ie. The stamps (82c) feature paintings of each man in full military dress.

Monaghan County Museum has a number of the specially commissioned first day covers to offer as prizes in a competition about John (Juan) MacKenna.  To enter simply answer the following question:   Where was John (Juan) MacKenna born?  Send your answers to the Northern Standard, The Diamond, Monaghan or by email to comuseum@monaghancoco.ie

Closing date 4th November.

One Comment »

  • MYLES MC KENNA said:

    MY FATHERS NAME WAS PATRICK MY GRANDFATHERS NAME SEAN . THAT IS AS FAR AS I CAN GO BACK .MY GRANDFATHER ALWAY’S SAID WE WERE DECENDENT’S OF SEAN OR JUAN MC KENNA THEY BOTH CAME FROM CO, MONEGHAN . I NOW LIVE IN CANADA WAS BORN IN BELFAST . GOD BLESS AND GOOD LUCK TO ALL