The city may look like Spain, but every once in awhile, the breeze seems to be blowing from the Emerald Isle. That’s not unusual because throughout the 250 years when St. Augustine was part of the Spanish Empire, many of its leading citizens were as Irish as the Blarney Stone.
Admiral Pedro Menendez, who founded St. Augustine in 1565, was from the kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing Asturias region of Spain and his red hair and blue eyes were among his most distinguishing features. Five of St. Augustine’s Spanish mayors were Irish, several of the military governors of La Florida were Irish officers and Irish units of the Spanish Army were frequently stationed at the city’s Castillo de San Marcos.
Father Miguel O’Reilly supervised the construction of the city’s Cathedral (1793-1797). His predecessor was Father Miguel Crosby. Father Richard Arthur was the parish priest from 1598-1606. Of course, he was known around town as “Padre Ricardo Artur”.
So the next time you visit St. Augustine, be sure to celebrate the town’s Irish heritage with a nice pint of Guinness or a pitcher of Sangria -- either is certainly historically correct.