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Che O’Guevara’s Irish roots

Features | December 2017

The revolutionary has ended up on a new stamp thanks to his chance meeting with a 16-year-old barman in a County Clare hotel in 1962. John McEntee talks to that barman, creator of the iconic poster 

Eyebrows were raised in October, when the Irish government issued a one euro postage stamp bearing the image of Che Guevara.  It marked the 50th anniversary of Che’s violent death in Bolivia. What on earth did the charismatic, brutal, guerrilla have to do with the Emerald Isle? The stamp’s appearance attracted complaints from vociferous Cuban Americans exiled in Miami. They view the bearded revolutionary as Fidel Castro’s wicked accomplice. Even Castro dumped Che after overthrowing Fulgencio Batista, the Cuban dictator deposed in the 1959 revolution. What the Cuban exiles may not have known was that Che remains an honorary Irishman. His real surname was Lynch: in the 18th century, his great-great-great-great grandfather, Patrick Lynch, came from Galway to Argentina, where he became a big landowner. After Guevara was killed by Bolivian special forces in 1967, his father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, said, ‘The first thing to note is that, in my...

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