IRISH-IN-CHICAGO-L ArchivesArchiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2006-05 > 1147848871
From: Nan Brennan <>
Subject: Re: [Irish in Chicago] Fwd: Irish in South America
Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 01:54:31 -0500
Thanks for this Suth American Diaspora piece, Dan.
Very interesting read.....32 volumes by O'Leary--- that's staggering.
On May 16, 2006, at 7:55 PM, dan hogan wrote:
> A bit lengthy, but very interesting reading.
> Dan Hogan
>> The Forgotten People: The Irish in Argentina and
>> other South American Countries
>> GUILLERMO (William) MacLOUGHLIN
>> 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,
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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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