El Proyecto MacNamara: The Maverick Irish Priest and the Race to Seize California 1844-1846

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This is the story of Eugene Macnamara, a maverick young priest from Ennis, County Clare who sought to establish a colony for Irish families in the 1840s in Alta California, Mexico s far north-western territory. Had the 10,000 ready volunteers from Limerick, Clare and Cork of whom he boasted, actually arrived, a New Ennis , New Clare or New Ireland could have been born. His scheme failed when the US seized California in 1846. Macnamara life spanned half the globe and was dramatic: expulsion from a Paris seminary, a dash to Rome from Guiana to expose a convulsing mission, a year in revolutionary Mexico, two months in threatened California (backed by the Royal Navy) and asylum in Mexico City during the Mexican War, 1846-8. He followed it all with a Macnamara Scheme II in Chile. His arrival in Mexico, 1844, was at a time of tension between North America s landlords, Mexico, the US and Britain. His 1846 licence to settle 20,000 square miles with 15,000 settlers, was formalised by Mexico in 1847 and even qualified for a US hearing in 1852, but it was not appealed. British diplomats, merchants and bondholders supported him. When US President Polk learned of El Proyecto Macnamara he acted immediately to stop any British colonising in North America. In Washington, Macnamara personified at the highest levels a political and commercial conspiracy between Britain and Mexico against the US. This biography is the compelling story of this international Irishman and his lingering aftermath.