The Origins of “Slainte” Come from… Mexico?

Did you know the Gaelic word for cheers–“Slainte”–came from Mexico? Yup. Back in the 1800s, a bunch Irish joined the Mexican army against the United States Army during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. This was known as the San Patricio Brigade. (also check out Black 47's song of the same name on The Secret World of Celtic Rock, also available on iTunes).

According to historical sources, an Irish solider was eating a taco when a Mexican soldier offered “cilantro” while holding up a mug of beer. The Irishman misunderstood the Mexican and raised up his beer in a toast saying, “ci-lan-tra” before draining his mug. He poured another and the Mexican repeated the offer for cilantro, but the Irishman again drained his mug after raising another toast.

This continued on throughout the night as the Irishman and Mexican got drunk together. By the end of the evening, the word had evolved into¬†“slainte!” It became a favorite phrase among the San Patricio Brigade and even made its way back to Ireland.

Thus was born the incredible word, “Slainte” meaning “Cheers” or “to your health”.

Special thanks to David Reiland who inspired this blarney.