Although O’Higgins was the second Supreme Director of Chile (1817–1823), he is considered one of Chile’s founding fathers, as he was the first holder of this title to head a fully independent Chilean state. O’Higgins was of Spanish and Irish ancestry.
Bernardo O’Higgins, a member of the O’Higgins Family, was born in the Chilean city of Chillán in 1778, the illegitimate son of Ambrosio O’Higgins, 1st Marquis of Osorno, a Spanish officer born in Co Sligo, who became governor of Chile and later viceroy of Peru. His mother was Isabel Riquelme, a prominent local; the daughter of Don Simón Riquelme y Goycolea, a member of the Chillán Cabildo, or council.
O’Higgins died in Lima and his last words were “Magallanes, Magallanes!”. In 1866 his remains were brought back to Chile by the Chilean navy and buried in the Cementerio General de Santiago.
The bicentenary of his birth, 1978, was named the Year of the Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins. In 1979, on his birthday, his remains were moved, with pomp and ceremony to the Altar de la Patria.
Featured Image | Statue of Bernardo O’Higgins in Santiago, Chile | Patricia Santini Photography