Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2006-05 > 1147827304

From: dan hogan <>
Subject: Fwd: Irish in South America
Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 17:55:04 -0700 (PDT)

A bit lengthy, but very interesting reading.
Dan Hogan

> The Forgotten People: The Irish in Argentina and
> other South American Countries
> by
> As an introduction, we must emphasize that
> Argentina was the destination of the largest Irish
> emigration to a non-English speaking land, where
> nowadays more than half a million people could
> claim some Hibernian origin.
> It is also important to point out that the Irish
> migration to Argentina, as well as to South America,
> is different to those that took or are taking place
> world-wide, as we will see in this work.
> The very earliest Irish presence in South America
> For many years we have tried to find out if there
> was any Irish presence in Admiral Cristobal Colon’s
> (Columbus) armada or in any other Spanish or
> Portuguese naval expedition that contributed to the
> discovery of the new World. We do not accept the
> theory of the first Irishman to place a foot on
> South American soil was Father Thomas Field, a
> Jesuit missionary, native of Limerick, who arrived
> at Brazil on December 31st., 1577. Anybody we could
> also mention Saint Brendan’s voyages, but it seems
> that he has visited mostly North and Central
> America, rather than South America.
> There were three natives of Galway members of the
> crew of the Spanish Admiral Hernando de Magallanes
> who arrived in South America in 1520. We consider
> them the first Irishmen to arrive to South America.
> Immediately after this event, some documents
> revealed more Irish presence. For example, in the
> foundation of Buenos Aires city in 1536, the names
> of John and Thomas Farel (Farrell) are well
> documented. Other Irishmen seemed to have been
> present in the foundation of other cities, like
> Asuncion, in Paraguay, or Corrientes, in
> North-Eastern Argentina. Also we must point out, as
> Thomas Murray indicates in his work regarding the
> Irish in Argentina, that it is hard to establish the
> exact origin of various conquerors, such as Moran,
> Martin, Colman or Galvan, whose surnames could be as
> much Spanish as Irish.
> During the early Spanish and Portuguese colonial
> administration many Irishmen came to South America
> as soldiers, officers or members of the
> administration, as well as priests of the Dominican,
> Franciscan or Jesuit Orders. The largest group of
> priests were Jesuits, spread through the entire
> continent until their expulsion in the second part
> of the XVIIIth. century.
> Among many others, we can mention Frs. Thomas Browne
> and Thaddeus Ennis and Br. William Leny in Paraguay;
> Frs. Richard Carey and John Almeida (Martin) and Br.
> William Lynch in Brazil; Frs. Francis Lea and Robert
> Kyne and Br. Thomas Lewis in New Granada, present
> Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador; Brs. Ignatius
> Walter and Maurice O’Phelan and Frs. John Brand and
> James Woulfe in Peru; as well as Fr. Michael Lynch
> in Bolivia.
> The first attempt to establish an Irish settlement
> took place in the Amazon region as of 1612. Phillip
> and James Purcell, Irish traders, established a
> colony in Tocujos, on the mouth of the Amazon
> river. They were interested in tobacco, dyes and
> hardwoods that they could obtain and that they
> could later sell with good profits.
> Another settlement, leaded by Bernard O' Brien, was
> established nearby in 1620, in an area with English
> and Dutch establishments as well. But the prosperity
> did not last much time due to the Portuguese
> government that wanted the total control of the
> trade in that area. The importance of these Irish
> settlements are well documented in Joyce Lorimer’s
> "English and Irish Settlements on the River Amazon,
> 1550-1646".
> In Colonial times.
> Many Irish held important positions in the military
> and civil administration during the colonial period,
> in areas that were ruled by the Spanish monarchy,
> due to the warm treatment Irishmen received from
> their "cousin", the Spanish king.
> Undoubtedly, the most outstanding Irish of this
> group was Ambrose O’ Higgins, a native of Co. Sligo,
> who fulfilled important positions in two different
> countries. He was the Governor General of Chile in
> 1787 and subsequently, he was appointed Viceroy of
> Peru -the most powerful government position in South
> America- in 1795 until his death in 1801 at the age
> of 80. He was also named Baron of Ballenary and
> Marquis of Osorno in recognition for his services.
> He was also the originator of the first
> Irish-American political family dynasty, as his son
> Bernard later became the Liberator of Chile and its
> first Supreme Director (President).
> Many others Irish immigrants, like the Murphys,
> O’Haras, Carrs and O’Donnells were in military
> capacities in Argentina and other neighboring
> countries. Merchants and members of local
> governments were Irish born who came after spending
> some time in Spain, or were descendants of
> distinguished 'Wild Geese'.
> Among them, we can mention the Lynchs, Butelers
> (Butlers), Sarsfields, Cuelis (Kellys), O’Ryans and
> other families and specially Michael O’Gorman
> (1749-1819), a physician from Ennis, Co. Clare, who
> was appointed as first chairman of the Medical
> School of Buenos Aires in 1799.
> We can also trace other Irish families who came
> through Spanish possessions, as the Cullen family,
> who came from the Canary Islands.
> In Brazil, there were also similar cases, as
> Lawrence Belfort, a Dubliner, who had a very
> respectable family which is still remembered in
> that country with one of Brazil’s most
> highly-prized soccer award that is named after one
> of his descendants.
> There was also a different form of Irish migration
> to South America. As a result of political affairs
> in Europe, for many years, Spain and England were at
> war, so it is not surprising that there were some
> British colonizing attempts in Colombia or in the
> River Plate, which were rejected by the local
> people.
> One of them, commanded in 1763 by captain John
> MacNamara, an Irishman under the British service,
> was defeated in the Colonia del Sacramento,
> presently located in Uruguay, where 262 men were
> killed and 78 taken prisoners and confined into the
> country. These English, Scotch and Irish people,
> after sometime, raised local families and their
> descendants signed a presentation to general Jose de
> San Martin, the Liberator of Argentina, Chile and
> Peru, when he was forming his army in Mendoza in
> 1817.
> In this document they declared they were "grateful
> for the good hospitality and full of enthusiasm for
> the rights of men, and that they could not see with
> indifference the risks that threatened the country,
> and they were ready to take up arms and give their
> last drop of blood, if it was necessary, in its
> defense". Some of the signings were John Heffernan,
> W. Manahan, Timothy Lynch, John Brown, John Young,
> Thomas Hughes, William Carr, Daniel MacGeoghegan
> and others.
> Another British attempt, and successful for a short
> period of time, took place in Buenos Aires in 1806.
> It was commanded by the Irish-born general William
> Carr Beresford, who was proclaimed Governor of
> Buenos Aires. Bereford, who afterward was named
> Viscount, acted as British Minister in the court of
> Rio de Janeiro. The following year there was another
> English expedition under the command of general
> Whitelocke. In both British armies, many officers
> and soldiers were of Irish origin, such as Browne,
> Nugent, Kenny, Donnelly, Murray, Mahon, Cadogan and
> Duff. The last one, was in charge of the 88th.
> Connaught Rangers Regiment, entirely formed by
> Irishmen.
> Among the "criollos" (Spanish born in the new world)
> who fought against the invaders we can recall
> Domingo French and Ignacio Warnes, who belonged to
> Irish families established in Spain, whose
> descendants came to America, as well as general Juan
> de Pueyrredon, whose mother was a Dogan (Duggan).
> Here we have clearly a case of Irish fighting
> against Irish as-we will see many times in South
> America.
> Some prisoners of these frustrated military
> adventures, as well as many others who deserted from
> the British, decided to establish themselves in the
> River Plate. The most famous was Peter Campbell, who
> became later a prominent figure in Uruguay.
> We must also mention other British expeditions to
> South American shores, as those commanded by
> Admirals Anson and Vernon, with military presence in
> the northern part of the continent, with Irish
> soldiers among their crews. In the Spanish side
> there were also Irish presence, as Brigadier John
> Baptist MacEvan, who was in charge of designing the
> defense of the fort of Cartagena de Indias, in
> Colombia.
> Also, it is worthy to mention that among the
> pirates who devastated Spanish fortifications in
> Colombia and Venezuela there where many Irish, men
> and women, some of whose descendants later came to
> South America through the Antilles.
> In this period, and in subsequent years, there was
> an active trade between Irish and South American
> ports. It was not surprising to see in Cork or in
> Belfast merchandise consigned to several places, as
> Mexico, the West Indies, or South America.
> At the time of independence.
> The different movements for independence in the
> world, as the French and North American revolutions,
> as well as the Napoleonic Wars, affected the Spanish
> and Portuguese crowns. They also influenced the
> citizens of South America, where the new ideas
> towards the independence of the colonies began to
> flourish, specially in the Spanish possessions.
> The Irish, totally integrated into the local
> communities, where not an exception to these ideas.
> At the beginning of the 1810’s different Irishmen
> held important positions in the newly independent
> countries. As a brief example, we can mention that
> James Roth (Ross) was President of the first
> government formed in Venezuela; general John
> Mackenna -born in Clogher, Co. Tyrone (1771-1814)
> and John Michael Gill where signators, respectively,
> of the Chilean and Paraguayan declarations of
> independence; and Joaquin Campana (Campbell)
> demanded the dismissal of the Spanish Viceroy in the
> town council held in Buenos Aires in 1810. The
> following year he served the local government.
> Not only in politics the Irish were involved. They
> had a very active participation in the struggle for
> independence, with remarkable presence in the
> military and naval forces.
> Generals Jose de San Martin and Simon Bolivar were
> the two most important leaders in the wars of
> independence of the former Spanish South American
> colonies. They both had large armies in which there
> was important Irish presence.
> One of San Martin’s officers was general Bernard O’
> Higgins, the son of Ambrose O’ Higgins, who also was
> a politician and became the first President of
> Chile. In this nation he is regarded as the father
> of the country’s independence.
> Among many other officers of Irish origin, we must
> also recall general John Thomond O’Brien, who was
> aide-de-camp of general San Martin. We must pay
> attention to this man, native of Co. Wicklow, who
> after the war ended dedicated his personal efforts
> to business, specially in the mining sector, in Peru
> and Bolivia, as well as promote Irish immigration
> to America. In 1824 he signed an agreement with the
> Argentine authorities to establish 200 compatriots
> in this country, but the proposal failed due to the
> opposition of the British government. Also, in
> 1828, general O’Brien gathered in Buenos Aires a
> group of distinguished Irish people to decide how
> they could best help the struggle for Catholic
> Emancipation in Ireland.
> But the most important Irish contribution for
> independence was in Bolivar’s army. In 1818 general
> John D’Evereaux organised in Dublin a famous "Irish
> Legion". Many ships left Irish and British ports,
> carrying some 6.500 men, mainly Irish, for service
> in the Liberator’s force, where they played an
> active role in securing the independence of
> Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and
> Bolivia.
> General Bolivar had a notable inclination for Irish
> officers. For many years several countrymen acted as
> his aide-de-camp. We must mention the names of
> Charles Chamberlain, James Rooke, William Ferguson
> -who died in Bogota saving the life of the Liberator
> in an assassination attempt in 1828-, and finally,
> the greatest, general Daniel Florence O’Leary,
> another Corkman, who is the author of "Memorias", a
> monumental work that describes in 32 volumes the
> events of those days in the northern countries of
> South America. He was also involved in politics and
> in the diplomatic career in both the Venezuelan and
> British services. In 1852 he visited, once again,
> Ireland, donating a collection of South American
> minerals, plants and birds to Queen’s College, which
> is now University College Cork.
> Although many Irishmen died due to war or bad
> climatic conditions or returned to their homes, many
> others settled in South America, raising important
> families. The most prominent was general Francis
> Burdett O’Connor, from Connorville, Co. Cork, to
> whom we pay homage here in this county where he was
> born. After serving with generals Bolivar and Sucre
> he settled in Bolivia, marrying a distinguished
> local lady. He became Minister of War and wrote his
> famous "Recuerdos" (memoirs). His descendants are
> still important members of Bolivia’s ruling class.
> One of his great-grandsons is Ambassador Edward
> Trigo O’Connor, at present Deputy Minister of
> Foreign Affairs.
> Other similar cases are those of Charles Minchin,
> from Co. Tipperary, who settled in Venezuela and
> integrated the cabinet of this republic, and Arthur
> Sandes, from Co. Kerry, a politician and
> educational innovator in Ecuador.
> The numerous participation of Irish people in the
> campaigns for independence are well documented by
> the Irish historian Eric Lambert. Among others, we
> must also add the surnames of Phelan, French,
> Reynolds, MacLoughlin, Byrne, Thomson, Hogan and
> Keogh as well as Maurice O’Connell, a relative of
> Daniel O’Connell, with whom Bolivar exchanged
> correspondence.
> In the navy there was also a very important Irish
> participation. Undoubtedly, the most prominent was
> Admiral William Brown (1777-1857), a native of
> Foxford, Co. Mayo, and founder of the Argentine
> Navy, whose biography is now available in English,
> thanks to the contribution of Dr. John de Courcy
> Ireland. 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. This song is now one of the officials
> in the Argentine Navy.
> Brown also fought against the Spanish forces in Peru
> and Ecuador and was Commander-in-Chief in the war
> against Brazil which ended with the independence of
> the Republic of Uruguay. He was also Governor of
> Buenos Aires, in 1828, which was at the time
> equivalent to be President of the Argentine
> Republic. In his numerous campaigns, Admiral Brown
> was accompanied by many Irish officers, such as
> Craig, King. Kearney, Turner and others.
> We must not avoid mentioning Admiral Thomas Charles
> Wright, who after fighting against Napoleon and in
> the Anglo-American War, offered his services to
> Bolivar. Later on, he founded the Ecuadorian Navy,
> as well as Peter Campbell, from Co. Tipperary, who
> fought with general Artigas and founded the
> Uruguayan navy.
> From Somos Primos, January 2001, a hispanic
> genealogy newletter.

Dan Hogan

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