La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti  

Gure Ama

(Our Mother)


Marie Clark


        The year 1905 would be particularly remembered in the world because it would see the first Russian Revolution as a preamble to its later bloody revolution. Sigmund Freud launched his psychoanalytic hypothesis with his controversial "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality." The American Wright brothers, pioneers in aviation history, flew the first powered flight in history. But a unique detail for consideration is the unforgettable year 1905 (known in science as the "Annus Mirabilis”, or miracle year), was the scientific production of the then-unknown 26-year-old physicist Albert Einstein, who published a series of research papers that transfigured modern physics with his proposals to explain to the world the theory of relativity and quantum theory.

And in this miracle year our mother came into this world. The youngest child of our grandparents Juliana and Innocencio was born on September 10, 1905. They baptized her with the name of Maria Mercedes Pascuala and she was called Pascu. Later on our father urged her to change and to use her second name Mercedes and with this name she was known the rest of her life.

A well-known family photo shows the five Iribarren siblings, each one holding a symbol of their favorite hobby. Lola, an avid reader with a book, the young Pascu, with a bouquet of flowers, Juli, with a fashion magazine, and Inocencio, with a tennis racket.  His athletic skills led him to a position with the local soccer team, known the "Las Arenas Club." The hobby of Aunt Mary was playing the piano, but obviously she could not easily demonstrate her hobby. This photo was taken to give to their sick mother. Mercedes lost her mother after a long illness when the child was only 13, leaving his widowed father in charge of the 5 children and two adopted children. He got help from two aunts in the care of the children.

Of the childhood of our mother we know little.  She did not talk much about herself. She told us that our grandfather was an avid hunter and she was in charge of preparing the clothes early in the morning when he went hunting on his motorcycle to Navarre. Once ama was ill with high fever that would not leave her and the family doctor came to see her, and he didn’t know what to do, so he asked the family to bring from the cellar the dirtiest bottle so that he could inject its filth into ama.  Today we know that that filth contained something similar to penicillin. But this concoction was home made and although her arm swelled up, the fever disappeared.  Later the doctor when he saw her on the street said "My drunkenness saved your life" because only under the influence of alcohol could he give such medicine. The first clinical trial of penicillin was not until 1941 and in 1943 it began commercial production in the United States. On another occasion, when she was little she was given a light blue raincoat that she liked, but it was a little big, and for fear that it could be returned she stayed outside in the rain all afternoon to keep her prized garment.

When they met in the house with friends, our grandfather pushed a little bit his youngest daughter to sing to the guests the Basque Nationalist song "Gora Euskadi" and the girl spontaneously sang the lyrics: "Gora Euskadi bizi Bedi, Sabino Arana Goiri gora." The whole family believed and professed the programs of that time of Basque nationalism. Several times Inocencio was told he could not attend Mass with the logo of the Basque flag on his lapel. Innocencio and Juliana spoke Basque as their first language, and early twentieth century social pressure and religious doctrine discouraged the use of Euskera. The middle class saw Euskera as a sign of rural life and the church saw the Basque language as pre-Christian, meaning is pagan, and denied permission to baptize children with Basque names. Later, the governments of Spain and France passed laws explicitly prohibiting teaching the Basque language. Now it is completely different. Today the use of Euskera is a mark of a well-educated middle class in the Basque country, but at that time from all the children of the family the only one who spoke only Euskera was the oldest, Lola.

The five Iribarren children were involved in the theater where they participated in different ways. Lola was directed the productions, Juli sewed the costumes, Mari was in charge of music, Innocencio directed the special effects like a thunderstorm, which was done  by dropping down the stairs sacks of potatoes.  And Pascu was in charge of the acting, which she did with pleasure and love.


Pascu became a young woman of delicate features, graceful, intelligent, and with common sense. She looked sweet, delicate and beautiful with her brown hair and dark eyes. One of his many skills was mathematics; we heard her say several times that one of her dreams had been to work on the Stock Exchange. After finishing her studies in school administration she was helping her sister Juli in her fashion design and sewing business. Her main hobby in her youth was acting in the theater, first in the batzoki, a name in Basque that means "place to meet." These are political and social venues of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) that in addition to offices and meeting rooms had bars and restaurants. There's one in every town, but they were closed after Franco's victory in the Civil War. Ama later acted in the Parish Social House (Casa Social) in Las Arenas which was a religious, cultural and recreational center. It was the home and meeting place, education and entertainment of all youth of Las Arenas, whose lives revolved around the parish and the youth group, Catholic Action. The beautiful room, which had a capacity of 500 persons, was the delight of everyone with its film and theater. Here the people of Getxo could see the latest films, and they took an active part, sometimes simply as spectators and sometimes as actors, in many plays. There was remarkable socio-cultural activity in conferences and lectures on current topics of the day. Pascu enjoyed acting and did it very well, just like everything that she proposed to do. One photo of a group of young girls from Divina Pastora dressed in Basque peasant clothes during their performance in a play, shows Pascu standing to the left.

Some of the young men from Algorta, including Jose Antonio Aguirre, Juanito Sarria and a young law student, Vicente de Amezaga, went down to Las Arenas often to see the works that were presented at the Social House. The neighborhood of Algorta consisted mostly of wealthy capitalists. In the seventeenth century Algorta had 100 houses, most of them near the port. Until 1859 Algorta was completely isolated. The old beach of Las Arenas was the only way through for people of Algorta who wished to take the train or a steamship. In 1853 a road was opened from the Consulate House, across Portugalete, to the San Martin neighborhood. What is today the beginning of the area known as La Avanzada is where the sandy of Las Arenas began, a town in those days not deserving of the attention of the people of Algorta. The area between Las Arenas and Algorta was dotted with palaces and villas inhabited only in summer months, leaving the rest of the year closed.

            Vicente de Amezaga, who had excelled in his studies at the school of San Bernardo de Algorta suddenly lost his father at the age of 17. Shortly after that he closed himself in the attic of his house and learned by himself Basque in six months.  He came to master the language to such a degree that he would later be the founder of the American Institute of Basque Studies in Buenos Aires (1943), he taught Basque Culture at the University of Montevideo (1947-1955) and Basque language at the Advanced Institute of Culture in the same city. He was named a corresponding member of the Basque Language Academy in 1957. In 1926 he graduated in law from the University of Valladolid and he was now preparing for the examinations of to become a notary public, to be held in the Canary Islands. He was appointed Municipal Judge of Getxo in the year of 1931, and in that capacity he officiated at the wedding of his friend Jose Antonio Aguirre, first president of the Basque Government. At the same time Don Resurrection Mary Azkue (1864-1951) founder of the Basque Language Academy, a priest, musician, writer and academic, and a key figure in the recovery of the Basque language offered to our father a scholarship to send him to Germany, but the Spanish Civil War made impossible all these projects.


On one occasion ama was starring in the comedy "Cradle Song" by Gregorio Martínez Sierra, which is the story of a newborn abandoned at the gates of a convent and raised by nuns. Vicente who had seen her acting several times noticed her talent and her delicate beauty and fell in love. They went out in groups for some time until one day he asked to meet her at La Avanzada the following day.  She replied quietly, as was the custom at that time: "Maybe if it doesn’t rain".  But she went on her bike and there on August 23 1927, Vincent declared his love for her. They got engaged. Their courtship at the end of 1920 recalls for us the traditional world that has completely disappeared today. Aita living in Algorta went down to Las Arenas to pick her up more or less at six pm for a walk to Neguri. Sometimes they went to the bakery of Zuricalday and walked through the beautiful Paseo Zugazarte, a beautiful avenue with many small palaces and ancient lime trees along the promenade, creating a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere near the sea. Always they were escorted from a safe distance by her sisters and her sister’s friends, until nine o'clock at night. At this time Vicente left her and returned to his home on train to Algorta. The weekends they went to a movie (American movies were popular in those days) or they went on the train to the Arriaga Theatre. The Opera House, built in a neo-baroque style, was named after Juan Crisostomo Arriaga of Bilbao, a composer known as “the Basque Mozart". In the spring they went to France accompanied by Juli. Visiting the casinos, the two sisters loved to play and bet, Vicente not much, but he put up with it when he saw her happy. Also they attended football (soccer) matches, always supporting Arenas. They ate lunch in the Hotel Continental in front of Las Arenas’ hanging bridge, and also they went to parish movies.

By this time she had changed her name to Mercedes, which was her middle name, because aita liked it more. She was a person of great faith. Her religious life had always been of utmost importance all her life and also for Vicente, and now during their courtship their religious lives were intense. Sundays were always dedicated to the church, the Mass and later perhaps a parish event or go to support the Arenas wherever the team was playing. The celebration of Holy Week was special to them. Holy Thursday ama arranged the Monumento, the church altar which was decorated that day  in churches in every neighborhood. At four in the afternoon they went together to visit the seven “Stations”, which were important local sites.  They would start from the Colegio de la Divina Pastora, the school where ama was educated, then go to the Church of Las Mercedes, the Chapel of Santa Ana, El Hospital, the Church of San Ignacio, the Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Church of St. Nicholas. Friday was a day for more meditation, or they participated in religious processions. Sometimes Vicente went as dignitary, dressed in a formal suit, and sometimes as a simple citizen. Holy Saturday everything looked happy and the girls all wore new dresses. Ama said "during the month of May, the month when everything was blooming and dressed for the holidays with colorful flowers, they would perform the custom of “las Flores,” which consisted of praying the rosary with litany and hearing songs sung by the choir of the village. The altar was decorated daily with flowers of different colors that parishioners gathered in the gardens, some days with red roses, others with white jasmine, lilies, wallflowers and in the middle of the range of colors the image of the Immaculate Conception with her blue mantle.”  They both described this scene for us with delight, but also with pain seeing that our generation did not have these views in our spiritual lives. This religious life would ease their minds in this time of great tension leading up to the civil war.

Our parents used to pray together various novenas, most frequently one named for the town, the Virgen de las Mercedes, and for the Virgin of Begoña in Bilbao. For this latter novena they had to leave the house at six o'clock and climb 300 steps to a high point.  Having thus “sanctified” themselves they ate the famous local snack, chocolate with churros (similar to English crullers). When their relationship began to be more formal in the mid 1930's they began to shape their future and sadly she stopped acting. Years later she would describe to us their life was "simple, quiet and of deep faith." Unfortunately the world they knew was about to explode and in fact they would know little peace again.

Now they were thinking about "forming their nest" and for that they chose a white brick house of two floors in the coastal town of Sopelana, three miles from Algorta. The house was small but sunny. It had a nice dining room, kitchen and bathroom. The bedroom had a balcony that opened onto the garden which was surrounded by fruit trees.  Ama dreamed of the flowers and vegetables they would plant in the beautiful and spacious garden. They visited the house often in the company of Grandmother Maria, aita’s mother, to add the some decoration to the building. They had already bought furniture for the dining room and living room, and the nuns were embroidering her trousseau and all this made them dream of a better future, full of hope.  But the war interrupted her dreams when they had to abandon everything to live in exile for the rest of their lives. She talked about the engagement as the best time of her life


(Basque President)

The Basque Autonomous Government was installed as such on October 1, 1936, because the Spanish parliament, the Cortes, did not give their final vote of approval until then.  Its first president, Jose Antonio de Aguirre y Lecube, took the oath of office as the lehendakari in the Casa de Juntas in Guernica.  The installation of the first lehendakari was October 7, 1936.  Aita was named to be the Director General of Elementary Education in the newly formed Government of Euskadi.  The Spanish Civil War was a violent conflict that broke out after the failure of the coup d’etat of a sector of the Spanish army against of the legal and democratic government of the Second Spanish Republic.  The war wracked the country between July 17, 1937, and April 1, 1939, finishing with victory by the rebels and the installation of a dictatorial fascist regime, at whose head was General Francisco Franco.  This act meant the end of the democratic experiment carried out in Spain since April, 1931, and which lead to the Spanish Civil War.  This war was a precursor to the Second World War.


Our Mpther -Our Mother1 -Our Mother2 -Our Mother3 -Our Mother4 -Our Mother5 -Our Mother6 -Our Mother7 

-Our Mother8 -Our Mother9 -Our Mother10 -Our Mother11


I) Vida de Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga -Gure Ama - Tributo a nuestra Ama, por Mirentxu Ametzaga 


I.1 Vida de Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga -Gure Ama

I.2  Life of Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga - Our Mother

II) La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti - por Xabier I. Ametzaga


II.1 La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti

III) Mis manos quieren hablar - mi poema a mi Ama - por Xabier I. Ametzaga


III.1 Mis manos quieren hablar - mi poema a mi Ama

IV) Publicaciones en Internet relacionadas 


IV.1 Sitio en Internet que lleva el nombre de Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti

IV.2 Los tres Barcos que llevaron a Ama y Aita

IV.3 Travesia

IV.4 Reunion familiar Amezagaeguberriak

IV. 5 Antecedentes

IV. 6 Publicacion en Internet de toda la obra de Aita - la que ella ordeno y recopilo

IV. 7 Publicaciones Xamezaga Editor Internet

Dedicatoria y mi homenaje a Mercedes Iribarren Gorostegui - Su esposa y mi ama

Travesia   Antecedentes   Reunion   Fotos     Videos   Slide Show Reunion

Sitio en Internet en homenaje a Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga.
Creacion, Edicion y contacto: Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren
Blog Xabier Amezaga Iribarren:
Editorial Xamezaga


I.1 Linea de Vida  y su Obra

I.2 Poesias en Euskera Recopilacion Total

I.3 Conferencias Recopilacion

I,4 Articulos Periodisticos Recopilacion Total

I.5 Lengua Vasca

I.6 Gernika

I.7 Uruguay

I.8 Venezuela

I.9 Reseñas Biograficas

I.10 Traducciones

I.11 Obras Publicadas

I.12 Semana Vasca en Montevideo

I.13 Ciclo de Clases

I.14 Nota Bio-Bibliografica

I,15 Biografia en Euskera

I.16 Sitio en Internet en Euskera

I.17 Nostalgia

I.18 Articulos Periodisticos Indice Cronologico

I.19 Articulos Periodisticos Indice Alfafabetico

II) OBRAS COMPLETAS - Libros Publicados en Internet


II.1  El Hombre Vasco

II.2 Hombres de la Compañia  Guipuzcoana

II.3  El Elemento Vasco en el siglo XVIII Venezolano

II.4 Vicente Antonio de Icuza

III) INDICE de TEMAS RELACIONADOS. Libros publicados por sus hijos;


III.1 Nere Aita - el exilio vasco - Mirentxu Amezaga 

III.2 Cronicas del Alsina -  Arantzazu Amezaga de Irujo

IV) Sus Hijos Escriben;


IV.1 Los tres Barcos que llevaron a Ama y Aita

IV.2 Travesia

V) Sus Hijos Escriben tras su muerte;


V.1 A mi Aita

V.2 La cancion de mi Padre

VI) Otros aspectos


VI.1 Reunion Familar en su Memoria

VI.2 Exodo

VI.3 Comision del Cuatricentenario de Caracas

VI.4 Inauguracion de la Plaza que lleva su nombre en Algorta

VI.5 Su Pequeño Poema en la Nota Necrologica 4 Febrero 1969

VII) Toda su Obra Publicada convertida en Formato PDF- puede ser leida en dispositivos  e-Book


 VII.1 Amézaga Vicente  Autor Irujo Ametzaga Xabier

 VII.2 Articulos de Prensa

 VII.3 Bio Biografica

 VII.4 Biografia en Euskera

 VII.5 Ciclo de Clases

 VII.6 Ciclo de Conferencias

 VII.7 Nostalgia

 VII.8 El Elemento vasco en el Siglo XVIII Venezolano

 VII.9 El Hombre Vasco

 VII.10 Los Hombres de la Compañia Guipuzcoana

 VII.11 Obras Publicadas

 VII.12 Vicente Antonio de Icuza

 VII.13 Poesias

 VII.14 Relacion de Escritos como Autor

 VII.15 Reseñas Biograficas

 VII.16 Semana Vasca Montevideo

 VII.17 Semana Vasca Montevideo Indice de Articulos

 VII.18 Traducciones

Sitio en Internet en homenaje a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti.
Unico sitio en Internet, que lleva su nombre, de referencia completa de su vida y su Obra totalmente publicada en Internet, 
Poesias, Articulos de Prensa, sus Libros, completando asi, y cerrando todo lo que se habia escrito en libros sobre el y su vida
Creacion, Edicion y contacto: Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren
Blog Xabier Amezaga Iribarren:
Editoriales relacionadas con sus Publicaciones
Editorial Xamezaga
Vicente Ametzaga Aresti - His Biography and his works Published on Wikipedia
Mercedes Iribarren Gorostegui - La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga - published on Wikipedia
Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren - Information published on Wikipedia