The city of Malaga remembered, as usual, on Wednesday a local hero, General José María Torrijos y Uriarte, who was shot along with 48 companions after rising up against the absolutist rule of King Fernando VII in 1831.
A procession of the Asociación Histórico-Cultural Torrijos 1831 set out in the morning from the San Andrés convent to the memorial cross to Torrijos in El Bulto, where a wreath was laid. The procession then continued to the English Cemetery, which is the resting site of Robert Boyd, an Irishman whom Torrijos persuaded to join his cause when exiled in London.
Homage was paid here to the bravery and internationalist outlook of Boyd, before the procession moved on to its last stop, the Plaza de la Merced. This is the resting place of Torrijos and all of his companions bar Boyd.
In a ceremony attended by the city's mayor, Francisco de la Torre, several more wreaths were laid by civic organisations at the foot of the obelisk dedicated to the general and his men. A reenactment of the execution of Torrijos and his companions was carried out by the association and Torrijos' last letter to his wife was read out.
Also in attendance at the day's events was Irish journalist Ciaran O'Neill, who was in Malaga filming an independent documentary about Robert Boyd. The story of Boyd, like O'Neill a native of Londonderry, caught his attention after the Asociación's José Antonio Sierra gave a talk on him at the town's Central Library this summer.
O'Neill admits he had not even heard of Boyd until this talk, but was immediately fascinated by his story. "It's an amazing tale of how this young Irishman gave up his fortune" - Boyd had inherited around 4,000 pounds from his father- , and poured it all into Torrijos' project - "and ultimately his life, for a cause in a country that he had never even been to."
Torrijos and his followers aimed to overthrow the despotic King Fernando VII and restore liberal, constitutional rule to Spain. After several months of fairly blatant plotting in Gibraltar, an attempt at an insurrection was launched.
However, Torrijos had been betrayed by someone known only as 'Viriato', thought to be a pseudonyn of a trusted collaborator, and he and his men were captured at Alhaurín de la Torre.
They were shot on San Andrés beach on 11 December. Later, he came to be celebrated as a liberal hero, and the obelisk to him and his followers in the famous Plaza de la Merced was erected in 1848.