Page images

the plaudits of the people as they welcomed this great Irishman returning from victory.

No brighter pages occur in the history of the New World than those which commemorate the gallantry and self-devotion of the Irish soldiers who aided South Americans to throw off the yoke of Spain. In 1819 an Irish Legion of 1729 men arrived under the command of General Devereux, a Wexford landowner, called the Lafayette of South America, to fight in the campaign of General Bolivar. Devereux was distinguished for his great bravery. After the War of Independence he returned to Europe, being commissioned to form a company for mining operations in Colombia, which country had appointed him envoy extraordinary to various European courts.

Colonel Ferguson and Captain Talbot were both Irishmen and among the last survivors of Devereux's Legion. It is computed that one-third of the Irish who came out under General Devereux died in hospital. It was this legion which won the decisive battle of Carabobo, June 26, 1821, going into action 1100 strong and leaving 600 on that hard-fought field.

Among the officers who composed Bolivar's Albion Rifles we find the Irish names of Pigott, Tallon, Peacock, Phelan, O'Connell, McNamara, Fetherstonhaugh, French, Reynolds, Byrne, and Haig, and the medical officer was Dr. O'Reilly. We find mention in General Millar's Memoirs of Dr. Moore, an Irishman, who attended Bolivar in most of his campaigns and was devotedly attached to the person of the Liberator. Lieutenant-Colonel Ilughes, Major Maurice Hogan, Lieutenant William Keogh, Captain Laurence McGuire, LieutenantColonel S. Collins also served in the struggle for independence.

The period of independence found a small number of Irish residents in Buenos Ayres, mostly patrician families, such as Dillon, MacMurrough, Murphy, French, O'Gorman, Orr, Butler, O'Shee, who had been exiled or had fled from Ireland and obtained the king of Spain's permission to settle in Spanish America. The descendants of these families are now so intermarried in the country that they have mostly forgotten the language and traditions of their ancestors; but they occupy high positions in political, legal, and commercial circles.


A remarkable influx of settlers from Ireland occurred between 1825 and 1830, to work in the saladeros, or salt mines, of the Irish merchants, Brown, Dowdall, and Armstrong. Previous to this a few Irish mechanics and others had come from the United States. In 1813 Bernard Kiernan came from New Brunswick. He seems to have devoted himself to science, as the papers mention his discovery of a comet in the Magellan clouds on March 19, 1830. His son, James Kiernan, became editor of the government paper, Gaceta Mercantil, in 1823, and held this post for twenty years; his death occurred in 1857. There is reason to believe that the first Irishman who landed in Buenos Ayres in the 19th century, exclusive of Beresford's soldiers, was James Coyle, a native of Tyrone, who came in the Agréable in 1807, and died in 1876 at the age of 86.

In 1830 some survivors of an Irish colony of 300 persons in Brazil made their way to Buenos Ayres. They had come out from Europe in the barque Reward in 1829.

The banker, Thomas Armstrong, who arrived in Buenos Ayres in 1817, occupied the foremost place for half a century in the commerce of that city. He was of the ancient family of Armstrong in the King's county, one of whose members was General Sir John Armstrong, founder of Woolwich arsenal. Having married into the wealthy family of Villanueva he became intimately connected with all the leading enterprises of the day, such as railways, banks, loans, etc. He took no part in politics, but interested himself in charities of

every kind.

In 1865 another Irishman, James P. Cahill, introduced into Peru from the United States the first complete machinery, for sugar growing and refining.

Still another Irishman, Peter Sheridan, was one of the chief founders of the sheep farming industry in Argentina. His family claimed descent from the same stock in Co. Cavan as Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the great statesman and dramatist. Sheridan died at the age of 52, in 1844, and was succeeded in the estancia or sheep-farming business by his nephew,

James, whose brother Dr. Hugh Sheridan had served under Admiral Brown.

The number and wealth of the Irish estancieros, or sheepfarmers, in Argentina have never been exactly ascertained, but after the old Spanish families they are the most important. It would be impossible to give all the Irish names to be met with. Some of them own immense tracts of land. Men whose fathers arrived in Argentina without a shilling are today worth millions. Their estancia houses display all the comforts of an American or English home; their hospitality is proverbial; and most of them have built on their land fine schools and beautiful little chapels, in which the nearest Irish priest officiates.

Many of the partidos or districts of the various provinces of Argentina may be compared to Irish counties, the railway stations being called after the owners of the land on which they are situated. Among the earliest families settled in Argentina in the farming industries, we find Duggans, Torneys, Harringtons, O'Briens, Dowlings, Gaynors, Murphys, Moores, Dillons, O’Rorkes, Kennys, Raths, Caseys, Norrises, O'Farrells, Brownes, Hams, Duffys, Ballestys, Gahans, and Garaghans.

Dr. Santiago O'Farrell, son of one of the earliest Irish pioneers, holds a foremost position among the distinguished lawyers of the present day. An Irish engineer, Mr. John Coghlan, gave Buenos Ayres its first waterworks. The British hospital has at present for its leading surgeon a distinguished Irishman, Dr. Luke O'Connor. A son of Peter Sheridan, educated in England, has left the finest landscapes of South America by any artist born in America. He died at Buenos Ayres in his 27th year, 1861. Among the public men of Irish descent, fifty years ago, in Buenos Ayres, are to be mentioned the distinguished lawyer and politician, Dalmacio Velez Sarsfield, and John Dillon, commissioner of immigration. Dillon was the first to start a brewery in Buenos Ayres, for which purpose he brought out workmen and machinery from Europe. All of his sons occupied distinguished positions. Richard O'Shee, president of the Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Ayres, was born at Seville of

an old Irish family banished by William III. Among the many valuable citizens of Buenos Ayres who perished during the cholera of 1868 was Dr. Leslie, a native of Cavan, whose benevolence to the poor was unceasing. Hienry O'Gorman, for some years chief of police in Buenos Ayres and afterwards governor of the penitentiary, was descended from an Irish family which went to Buenos Ayres in the eighteenth century. His brother, Canon O'Gorman, was one of the dignitaries of the archdiocese, and director of the boys' reformatory. General Donovan, son of an Irish Dr. Donovan of Buenos Ayres, had command of one of the sections of the new Indian frontier.

The first Irish chaplain was Father Burke, a venerable friar mentioned by Mr. Love in 1820 as over 70 years


and much esteemed. When Rivadavia suppressed the Orders in 1822, he allowed Father Burke to remain in the convent of Santo Domingo. After his death the Irish residents, in 1898, petitioned Archbishop Murray of Dublin for a chaplain. Accordingly the Rev. Patrick Moran was selected, and he arrived in Buenos Ayres in 1829. He died in the following year, and was succeeded by the Rev. Patrick O'Gorman from Dublin, who continued as chaplain during 16 years till his death in 1817.

The year 1813 is memorable for the arrival of Rev. An. thony Fahy, with whose name the advancement of the Irish in Argentina will be forever identified. This great patriarch was born at Loughrea, Co. Galway, in 1804, and made his ecclesiastical studies at St. Clement's convent of Irish Dominicans at Rome. Being sent to the western states of America, he passed ten years in Ohio and Kentucky, after which, on the invitation of the Irish community of Buenos Ayres and by permission of the superior of his Order, he came to the river Plate at a time when the prospects of the country and of the Irish residents were far from promising. The history of the Irish community since that time is in some measure a recital of the labors of Father Fahy. He it was who helped his countrymen to choose and buy their lands which now are of such enormous value. Their increasing numbers and prosperity in the camp districts obliged him to endow each of the

provincial partidos was a resident chaplain. Most of these clergymen were educated in Dublin, and soon showed their zeal not merely in religious, but also in social spheres. Irish reading-rooms, libraries, and schools sprang up and laid the foundation for the refined Irish life of the present day in those districts. Among other services, Father Fahy founded the Irish convent, bringing out some Sisters of Mercy under Mrs. Mary Evangelist Fitzpatrick from Dublin, to whom he gave it in charge. Father Fahy died in harness in 1871 of yellow fever; he attended a poor Italian woman and on returning home was at once taken ill. He lasted only three days and expired peacefully, a martyr to his sacred calling. He died so poor that Mr. Armstrong had to discharge for him some small debts, and five others of his countrymen paid his funeral expenses. A fitting memorial of the deccased priest, the Fahy College for Irish orphan boys in Argentina, has been erected in Buenos Ayres, and a magnificent monument of Irish marble, carved in Ireland, also perpetuates his fame.

The priests, still living, who were co-workers with Father Fahy and appointed by him to various partidos, are Monsignor Samuel O'Reilly, deservedly beloved by his parishioners, and the Rev. Father Flannery, whose appointment to San Pedro brought a great influx of Irish farmers into that district. Among those who have gone to enjoy their eternal reward are the brothers, Rev. Michael and Rev. John Leahy, both of whom were invlefatigable during the yellow fever in Buenos Ayres. Rev. Father Mulleady, Rev. Patrick Lynch, Rev. James Curran, and Monsignor Curley were also among the Irish priests of that time.

The Fahy College is entrusted to the care of the Marist Brothers, who are largely Irish. The community of Holy Cross of the Passionist Fathers, who have as provincial the distinguished North American scholar Father Fidelis Kent Stone, is almost entirely composed of Irish and Irish-Americans. They have several establishments in various provinces of Argentina. Irish priests are to be met with all over the country. In Patagonia and the Chaco we also find a number of Protestant missionaries sent out by the Irish branch of the South American Missionary Society.

« PreviousContinue »