Thursday the 13th of March 2003- Day 22.
Saint Patricks Day is coming up. Sign by Guiness hightlighting St. Patricks Day. They close a street (Reconquista), where three Irish pubs are located. Sometimes they close San Martin street too.
Found the following article.
ARGENTINE – THE FORGOTTEN IRISH. To be found online here.
by Guillermo McLoughlin
It is a fact that throughout Ireland there is a very scanty knowledge of the existence of an active Irish community in Argentina. Perhaps the language differences, the long distance between the two countries and the circumstance that the great Irish emigration to Argentina was discontinued in the 1880s, are the main reasons for this lack of knowledge.Nevertheless, it is worth noting that half a million people of Irish descent live in Argentina where they maintain their traditions and support schools and charity societies. It is also possible to meet people, whose families left Ireland three or four generations back, who speak with a Westmeath accent though they have never travelled to Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated all around the country and an annual meeting ‘Encuentro’, which gathers the most representative delegations of Irish Societies, takes place in different cities sponsored by the Federation of Irish-Argentine Societies, currently presided over by Richard Dillon.
At the beginning
Although the vast majority of the Irish people came to Argentina in the nineteenth century, after the new Republic became independent, some Irish families held leading positions in various social, political, military and economic environments during the colonial period. Among them we should mention the Lynch, Butler, Sarsfield, Kennefeaky (hispanicized Reynafe), O’Gorman, Dogan, O’Ryan and Whertherton families. They were families who came through Spain where they also held distinguished social positions and were grateful for the traditional hospitality accorded by the Kings of Spain to their long distant Irish relatives, descendants of Milesius.
In the early times of the discovery and conquest of America, many Irish took an active part in this enterprise. The first Irishmen to set foot on Argentine soil were three Galway-born members of the crew of the Spanish Admiral Hernando de Magallanes in 1520. John and Thomas Farel (Farrell) took part in the foundation of Buenos Aires City in 1536 and the Jesuit priest Thomas Fields, a native of Limerick, was an outstanding participant in the Jesuit missions.
The British Invasions
During the years 1806 and 1807 there were two frustrated British invasions of Argentina. The first was commanded by the Irish-born general William Carr Beresford, an illegitimate son of the Marquis of Waterford. In both expeditions there were several Irish officers and soldiers and some of them deserted and decided to establish themselves in Argentina. One of them was Peter Campbell, who was the organizer of the Uruguayan Navy.
In 1810 the ‘Criollos’ (Argentine-born people under the rule of Spain) decided to cut their relations with the Kingdom of Spain. On May 22 in a memorable session of the ‘Cabildo’ (the town council) Joaquin Campana (Campbell) demanded the dismissal of the Spanish Viceroy Baltazar de Cisneros. Three days later the first independent government was installed and, on the same day, Domingo French distributed emblems with the colours of the future national flag.
The struggle for independence involved the participation of many Irish descendants as well as some newly arrived Irish immigrants. Among them, the most prominent and important Irish figure in the struggle for South American independence was Admiral William Brown (1777-1857), a native of Foxford, County Mayo. He was the founder of the Argentine Navy and subsequently became Governor of Buenos Aires in 1826.
He won the naval battle of Montevideo on March 17, 1815, which assured the independence of Buenos Aires from Spanish rule. Brown began the action with the band playing the song ‘St Patrick’s Day in the morning’ in homage to the saint’s day. The names of Craig, King, Kearney, Turner and others must be remembered among the brave officers who took part in the battle.
But not only in the Navy did Irish officers distinguish themselves. In the army, too, we should recall the names of Lynch, O’Donnell, Warnes and especially a Wicklow man, General John Thomond O’Brien (1786-1861), who was aide-de-camp to General José de San Martin, liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru.
The large immigration
Although Irishmen settled in every Latin American country, Argentina was the only one where a large number arrived in order to form a distinct community. In the early 1820s and 1830s, many Irish people undertook the long journey to settle in Argentina, despite the fact that they knew little or nothing of such a far away land and also realising that it was not an English-speaking country. They were attracted by opportunities in the rising wool and meat trades, low land prices and high wages. William Mooney and Patrick Bookey from Westmeath, and Patrick Browne from Wexford, saw the potential opportunity to develop these trades, but realized they would need labour to do it. Therefore they contacted their counties of origin inviting people to emigrate to Argentina.
From 1830 onwards we can see the increase in Irish immigration. In the very beginning most of these immigrants were the younger sons of large tenant farmers with the education and management skills which allowed them in a few years to become rich farmers (estancieros), after having fought against Indians and overcome climatic conditions very different to those of their native land. A special system known as ‘halves’ was used, whereby the owner would entrust 2,000 to 3,000 head of sheep to an Irish shepherd who was expected to cover all expenses for maintaining them for a specific period of time. At the end of the period, the flock, which by then had grown to 10,000-12,000 sheep was divided with 50 per cent going to the owner and 50 per cent to the shepherd. This system enabled many Irishmen to establish themselves quickly on their own farms and created a new opportunity for those who arrived from Ireland looking for work as they could get it from their own compatriots.
The names of John Murphy, Edward Maguire and Michael Duggan may be recalled from among many other Irish pioneers who amassed large fortunes. The last one claimed to be not only the richest Irishman in Argentina, but the richest Irishman in the world.
Edward Mulhall, a famous Dublin journalist established in Buenos Aires in the 1850s, wrote in 1878: ‘the Irish owned an aggregate value of lands and stock that cannot fall short of 2 million sterling. Some of these men have from 50,000 to 200,000 sheep, and run immense tracts of land which average 1,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds per year. In no other part of the world have Irishmen been more prosperous, and nowhere do they constitute a more orderly and industrious community than in Buenos Aires’.
Although there are Irish descendants from throughout the island, the largest immigration came from two specific areas: from south east of a line from Wexford town to Kilmore Quay in County Wexford (20 per cent); and from a quadrangle on the Longford-Westmeath border, stretching roughly from Athlone to Edgeworthstown to Mullingar to Kilbeggan (66 per cent). This has been pointed out by Pat McKenna, author of an unpublished work on Irish emigration to Argentina.
Irish priests took an active role in the life of the community and in holding it together. In 1844 the Rev. Anthony Fahy was appointed as chaplain. He was a native of Loughrea, County Galway and soon became the adviser, banker, matchmaker and administrator of the income of many compatriots. He was supported by a Protestant, Thomas Armstrong, a wealthy merchant from Garrycastle. Fr Fahy was also administrator of a welfare system for the newly arriving emigrants and he introduced many Irishwomen to their future husbands — Irishmen living in the vast country.
Many churches, hospitals and schools were established for the Irish people. They had very little social or cultural organisation except that provided by their priests, mainly Pallottine and Passionist fathers. In line with this, and in view of their rural lifestyles, it is not surprising that horse racing was a principal sport and social activity. These race meetings were, it was claimed, as good as ‘the best ever seen in Mullingar’. Nowadays the Jockey Clubs are prestigious social institutions in Argentina. They owe their origin to this period. The most important one is located in Buenos Aires city and it is presided over by Alfred Lalor.
People received Irish newspapers and it was usual to have more discussions on Irish politics than of Argentina’s situation. The major political movements of the nineteenth century in Ireland were reflected in Argentina. Daniel O’Connell’s activities and the Catholic Emancipation cause were supported in the 1820s, and Irish Relief Fund for the great famine was established in the 1840s. A Fenian Prisoners Fund, a Land League and Gaelic League branch, Sinn Fein clubs and a march in Buenos Aires City after the death on hunger strike of Terence McSwiney in 1920, are examples of their continued interest in Ireland, especially in Ireland’s independence movement.
The Irish Argentine
Nowadays, the large number of over 500,000 Irish-Argentine descendants are spread all around the country. It is the most important Irish settlement in a non-English speaking country.
Schools like St Brigid’s, St Patrick’s, St Ethnea’s, Fahy Institute, Michael Ham or Newman College (belonging to the Christian Brothers), provided education for many descendants of Erin. Different associations reflect the wide range of interest of the Hibernian-Argentine community. The oldest one is the Irish Catholic Association founded in 1883 which takes care of the education of the poor Irish-Argentine people. Also, some clubs, like the Fahy and the Hurling, maintain a very important social activity among the community, but the most outstanding organization is the ‘Federacion’ (the Federation of Irish-Argentine Societies) which gathers under one umbrella all the associations concerned with the Irish community. the members of the Board are in charge of the coordination of an annual event, the traditional ‘Encuentro’, where different delegations from distant places join together to preserve the spirit of the community. It is always honoured by the presence of the Irish Ambassador to Argentina.
Traces of Irish presence are everywhere to be found. Numerous cities bear the names of their Irish founders; other cities, as well as railway stations, hospitals, streets, schools town squares, etc. are named in memory of outstanding Hibernian descendants. It is also quite usual to find in some cemeteries various graves with Celtic crosses and inscriptions in English in homage to Irish ancestors.
The Southern Cross, founded in 1875 by Monsignor Patrick Dillon, the oldest Irish newspapers published outside Ireland, provides a lively forum for communication between members of the community.
Many descendants of Irish people have been prominent members of Argentine society. Among them are General Edelmiro Farrell, President of the Argentine Republic in 1944, and General Bartolome Mitré (Irish by his grandmother), a notable military officer, politician, journalist and historian, who served as President in 1862. In recent years Edward McLoughlin and Lucas Lennon held ministerial positions.
These and many other examples represent a brief synthesis of the importance of the Irish-Argentine community. Although in the last 50 years they are no longer an exclusive English-speaking group and there is much intermarriage with non-Irish-Argentines, the descendants are proud of their roots and of the great contribution their forefathers have made to their adopted land.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Irish Roots Magazine in which it was first published in Issue 4, 1993. Published by: Belgrave Publications
Year written: 1993. Copyright owned by: Belgrave Publications
Alos found the following song from the Wolfe Tones.
The Wolfetones – Admiral Brown
From a city of the county of May a man came from much fame.
As marine and soldier were no braver other.
They say that one went to very young America like stowaway to sail everywhere.
Then the adventure took it towards the south, to the mouth of the Silver.
San Mart?n was in his way in Argentina like three boats to hunt whales that he bought.
He fought against Brazil and Spain, and then he wished independence for Argentina.
Admiral William Brown you are a difficult man who has demonstrated his anger in the battles where everything was in against and.
But your Irish heart was strong and follows alive in the memory.
And in Ireland there is people who do not forget to you.
The day of San Patricio they say that you gained many victories
You defeated all the invaders, gamberros and killers.
Later by Pampas you found a home happy.
“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.
I have listened that noble and brave Irish helped to release a called earth Argentina.
I have listened to with much aclamation the name and the fame of the Regiment of Patricios, that fought when in 1806 the British arrived until the Silver to massacre.
And until today they say in Argentina that the English fled downwards from Buenos Aires and
they took then for the crown.
“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.
We remembered William Brown and its famous earth.
The inhabitant of the islands of your country was forced by the pirates to flee.
And in Ireland of course that we know all history.
And also we remembered the Irish that they went to the new Argentina escaping of the English laws, the wars and the hunger.
They formed a loyal crew since all the Irish do.
“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.
The old colonial days and the cruel English methods with its uproarious looting we will teach to people.
Because the English go to the war since Whitelocke did before, with its boats, arms, drums, standards and flags.
In the days of the empire they killed by gold and they made it march past by the streets of London.
Oh, no human right will give back us to deads.
“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.
In Argentina it died, Fahey father was to his side.
1857 were the year when its country cried it.
It is remembered with rejoicing like a hero of the Nation.
And everywhere where still there is much freedom.
And the Cross of the South taking notices where the brave Willie Bullfin escribio ‘: “the Irish to you continue supporting Argentina”. When the Empire sinks you do not leave the Paddies that supports to the crown.
“the Iislas the Argentine Falklands”.