Derryman who died in Spanish revolution is still celebrated in Malaga

Fri, 16/08/2019 - 18:00 -- Editor

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District welcomed Spanish historian José Antonio Sierra to the city last week and heard more about his efforts to celebrate the life of a young local revolutionary, Robert Boyd, who is regarded as a historic hero in Spain. 

Mr Sierra is a member of the Irish Cultural Circle of Málaga and through his work hopes to establish cultural and educational links with Derry. 

During his visit he spoke with the Mayor, Councillor Michaela Boyle, and went to the Tower Museum to meet with Curator Roisin Doherty, where he  highlighted the work of the Cultural Circle and their hopes of connecting the cities of Derry and Málaga though the story of Robert Boyd. 

Boyd was a liberal idealist executed in 1831 for supporting Spanish General José Maria Torrijo’s revolt against Ferdinand VII, King of Spain. Every year, on the 11th of December, Malaga remembers Robert Boyd and the other 48 revolutionaries who were executed fighting for their ideals. 

Mayor Boyle said it was fascinating to speak to Mr Sierra and find out more about the local man who continues to hold a place of honour in Spain. “I think it’s a fascinating story and one that certainly merits further exploration in terms of how we can also remember Robert Boyd’s life,” she said. 

“The fact that he is so revered in Spain yet few people here are aware of his bravery in fighting for the liberation of the Spanish people is a real pity. I want to thank Mr Sierra for taking the time to share the story and highlight the work of the Irish Cultural Circle of Malaga. I hope that we can find a way to link in with the group and establish a connection in the interests of both our cities.” 

Robert Boyd was born into a wealthy Protestant family in Derry in 1805 and went on to become a Lieutenant in the Bengal Army of the East India Company. He joined with General Torrijo in a failed attempt at a revolt against the Spanish King and was executed by firing squad on December 11, 1831, aged just 26. 

Boyd’s grave is now one of the most famous in Málaga where it occupies the Cementerio Inglés de Málaga carrying the inscription: ‘To the memory of Robert Boyd, Esq, of Londonderry, Ireland. The friend and fellow-martyr of Torrijos etc who fell at Málaga, in the sacred cause of liberty’.

Today in Málaga there is also a street named in honour of Robert Boyd, and Tower Museum Curator Roisin Doherty said the museum would now be considering how to remember Robert Boyd and share his story.