DID you know that the fictional character of El Zorro was possibly inspired by an Irishman? Well, the pupils of Scoil Mhuire National School in Schull do.
Thanks to an innovative collaboration between teacher Maria Kennedy, and her friend, artist Maria Pizzuti, one lucky girl undertook the trip of lifetime to Mexico City recently to exhibit the pupils’ tapestry story of the life of William Lamport, the ‘Irish Zorro’.
Isobel Lannin, (10), travelled to Mexico City , with her mother Alison, at the generous invitation of the Mexican ambassador to Ireland, Carlos Garcia.
When Ambassador Garcia heard about a tapestry made at the school, and depicting the life of William Lamport, he invited a some of the pupils to display it at the Mexican Embassy in Dublin last February.
The ambassador was very impressed with the story of Lamport’s involvement in the quest for Mexican independence, and promised the students that the exhibition would be brought to Mexico City one day.
Isobel Lannin was chosen to make the trip and landed in Mexico just ahead of Hurricane Patricia in October. Isobel also met Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, who was in Mexico at a UN summit, and visited the tapestry exhibition.
Minister Howlin proved himself to be an expert on Lamport as they are both Wexford men and he spoke eloquently of Lamport’s colourful life.
Many dignitaries attended and everyone expressed delight at how such a young group of students had connected with the story of a Mexican hero.
While there, Isobel also visited the Aztec temples at Tenochtitlán. ‘They were amazing and breath-taking,’ she said. ‘I could not believe how huge these pyramids were and also how ancient’.
‘The Mexicans love their history and you are never far from a monument or museum in Mexico City. She also experienced the build-up to the national Day of the Dead – as depicted in the spectacular opening scene of the recent James Bond movie Spectre.
‘Shops, businesses and homes create altars to celebrate their dead and everybody has their face painted on the street in elaborately grotesque designs,’ she said. She also visited the statue of William Lamport inside the huge Angel of Independence monument in the Reforma area of Mexico City. ‘When I saw his statue I realised how important William Lamport was to the Mexicans, and I was very glad that my classmates and I could show the Mexicans that we knew his story.’
School principal, Diarmuid Duggan said the tapestries show how ideas become achievements in the right hands. ‘Even though only Isobel travelled to Mexico, there were many proud students here in Scoil Mhuire who knew that their work was on display in a museum. Maria Kennedy, their teacher and Marai Pizzutti as artistic director, are two dynamic individuals who recognise the limitless creative possibilities of children.’
Isobel has even written a blog about her time in Mexico City, which can be read at http://schullns.com/category/mexico-city-expedition/