Ár dTír, Ár Muintir, Ár dTeanga – Our land, our people, our language.
It was 1899. John MacBride was an emigrant living in Johannesburg, one of the many Irish uitlanders who sought employment in the mining trade in the Transvaal when the Second Boer War was declared.
He would issue a proclamation to the Irish of the Transvaal to establish a brigade, to fight in defence of the independence of the Boer Republics against the shared enemy of both the Irish and the Boers: Britain.
The Transvaal Irish Brigade, one of the many foreign volunteer commando units that served under the Boers, was comprised of 300 men, first-generation Irish uitlanders, Boers of Irish descent and Irish-American uitlanders alike.
The brigade was operational for eleven months, fighting in some of the key engagements of the war, from the siege of Ladysmith, to the decisive Boer victories at Colenso and Spion Kop, to the turning of the tide at Pieter’s Hill and finally to the last stand of the Irish Brigade at Bergendal.