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O'Higgins - Ó hUigin - d'Eguino

Uí hUigin - Ó hUigin - O'Higgins - Higgins


Bernardo O'Higgins, Father of Chile

Bernardo O'Higgins was born in 1778 to Don Ambrose O'Higgins and Isabel Riquelme. Ambrose was a member of the O'Higgins family of Summerhill Co. Meath who had made his way in the service of the King of Spain and was unable to marry Isabel due to the fact they were from differnt social backgrounds. This meant that Bernardo was raised by his mother's family although provided for by his father.

In 1801 when Ambrose died Bernardo returned from Spain to take over his father's estates and to assume his name and titles. 1n 1806 Bernardo was appointed to a position on local government as the representative of Laja. In 1808 Napolean took control of Spain leaving her colonies to flounder momentarily. O'Higgins and some others quickly founded an ad hoc government to rule Chile in the short term. This was the first in a number of steps towards Chilean independence from Spain.

In 1810 Bernardo joined the revolt against French controlled Spanish rule in Chile and emerged by 1818 as Chile's first Head of State. This great great grandson of Shean Duff O'Higgins of Ballynary and cousin to the O'Higgins of Summerhill led Chile for six years during which he worked to establish greater equality and freedom for all citizens.

In 1823 he was wise enough to realise that he had lost the support of government and gracefully resigned from office. He left Chile intending to move to Ireland but was delayed in Peru where he settled and eventually died in 1842. His only son Demetrio Pedro O'Higgins was a Chilean politician and businessman who arranged for the transfer of his father's remains from Peru to Chile in 1869 where it is enshrined in Santiago.