Irish settler in Brazil was a missionary, Thomas Field S.J.
(1547-1626), born in Limerick, who entered the Jesuit Order in
Rome in 1574. Fr. Field arrived in Brazil in late 1577 and
spent three years in Piratininga (present-day São Paulo). He
then moved to Paraguay in the company of two other Jesuits,
and over the next ten years they established missions among
the Guaraní people. Thomas Field, who died in Asunción, is
credited with being the first Irish priest to celebrate the Roman
Catholic rites in the Americas.
1612 the Irish brothers Philip and James Purcell established a
colony in Tauregue, at the mouth of the Amazon river, where
English, Dutch, and French settlements were also established.
Huge profits were made by the colonists from trading in
tobacco, dyes, and hardwoods. A second group arrived in 1620
led by Bernardo O'Brien of County Clare. They built a wood and
earthen fort on the north bank of the Amazon and named the
place Coconut Grove. O'Brien learned the dialect of the Arruan
people, and his colleagues became expert navigators of the
maze of tributaries, canals and islands that form the mouth of
the Amazon. The first recorded Saint Patrick's Day celebration
was on 17 March 1770 at a church built in honour of the saint
by Lancelot Belfort (1708-1775). The church was located on his
estate, known as Kilrue, beside the Itapecurú River in the
state of Maranhão in northern Brazil.
Irish soldiers served in Brazilian armies, including Diago
Nicolau Keating, Diago O'Grady, and Jorge Cowan. Another Irish
military man, William Cotter, was sent to Ireland in 1826 to
recruit a regiment for service against Argentina. Cotter went
to County Cork where he promised the local people that if they
enlisted they would be given a grant of land after five years'
service. He left for Rio de Janeiro in 1827 with 2,400 men and
some of their wives and children, but they were completely
neglected when they arrived. The Irish mutinied together with
a German regiment, and for a few days there was open warfare
on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. While most were ultimately
sent home or re-emigrated to Canada or Argentina, some did
stay and were sent to form a colony in the province of Bahia.
1850s the Brazilian government was anxious to raise
agricultural production and to increase the population of its
southern provinces, in particular with northern European
immigrants. After German and Swiss governments imposed
restrictions on emigration to Brazil as a consequence of the
poor conditions that many of these countries' citizens had
experienced there, Brazil turned its attention to other
possible sources of immigrants. Fr. T.
Donovan, an Irish Catholic priest, led up to four hundred
people from the County Wexford barony of Forth to Monte
Bonito, near Pelotas in the then province of Rio Grande do Sul.
The Irish colony rapidly collapsed, and most of the survivors
made their way to Argentina or Uruguay, complaining of the
lack of preparations for their reception, the lack of
agricultural tools, poor land, scarce water, and of the local
colonisation schemes in Brazil were also a failure. In 1867
Quintino Bocayuva, a Brazilian newspaper editor and future
republican leader, was sent to New York by the Brazilian
government to recruit immigrants. His mission was to sign up
former Confederates, but to help fill the ships he also
dispatched several hundred poverty-stricken Irish. Most of
these were sent to Colônia Príncipe Dom Pedro, near
present-day Brusque in the province of Santa Catarina. Fr.
Joseph Lazenby, an Irish Jesuit living in the provincial
capital, made his way to Príncipe Dom Pedro and declared that
he would develop the village into an Irish Catholic colony.
Lazenby soon got in contact with Fr. George Montgomery, an
Irish Catholic priest in the English 'Black Country' town of
Wednesbury, who arranged in 1868 for some three hundred of his
parishioners to be sent to Brazil. Montgomery maintained that
the Irish had no future in England and saw in Brazil an
opportunity to create Irish Catholic communities. He firmly
believed that thousands more Irish living in England would
soon be joining the first emigrants. However, within just two
years the new Irish colony had failed. It was located far from
any possible markets and its land was vulnerable to flooding.
Many of the immigrants died, and the survivors moved on to
other parts of Brazil, Argentina and the United States, or
returned to England.
immigration to Brazil was also the main objective of the
Anglo-Brazilian Times newspaper, published weekly by
William Scully in Rio de Janeiro between 1865 and 1884. Scully
was also the founder of the 'Sociedade Internacional de
Imigraçao' in 1866, which represented his material support to
the Brazilian government.
diplomats served British interests in Brazil. Daniel Robert
O'Sullivan (1865-1921), medical doctor, army officer, and
diplomat, whose career was largely spent in East Africa and
Brazil, served as British consul or consul-general in Bahia
(1907), São Paulo (1910), and Rio de Janeiro (1907-1908,
1913-1915, 1919-1921). The Irish patriot Roger Casement
(1864-1916) was a British consular official in Brazil in
1906-1911. In 1906 Casement was appointed consul in Santos and
in 1908 he became the consul in Pará (Belém). He was promoted
to consul-general in Rio de Janeiro in 1909, a position he
retained until 1913. In 1910 Casement was directed by the
Foreign Office to occupy a commission of enquiry sent to the
rubber-producing Putumayo region of the western Amazon, an
area straddling the Peruvian-Colombian frontier, to
investigate treatment of the local Indian population by the
Peruvian Amazon Company. He was knighted in 1911 for this and
for similar work in Africa. During the First World War
Casement sided with Germany as a tactic to promote Irish
independence, and in 1916 he was hanged by the British for
treason. To damage his reputation, the British publicised the
existence of Casement's diaries, which included numerous
graphic and coded accounts of his homosexual activities in
Brazil and elsewhere.
Dancing in the streets of Dublin after
the football match vs. Ghana, 27 June 2006
Michael J. Siejes was appointed as the first honorary consul
of Ireland in Rio de Janeiro, and later Pádraig de Paor was
appointed non-resident Irish ambassador accredited to Brazil.
In September 1975 an Irish trade mission led by Robin Bury
visited São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Irish diplomatic
mission was established in Brazil in 1975, and Brazil opened
its embassy in Dublin in 1991. The first resident Irish
ambassador to Brazil, Martin Greene, arrived in Brasília in
America, Brazil is Ireland’s second most important trading
partner after Mexico, with an average of US$154 million in
exports and US$80 million in imports per annum in 1996-2002
(International Monetary Fund, Direction of Trade Statistics,
Yearbook 2003). In 1999 Kerry do Brasil was the first major
Irish company to set up in Brazil with a US$20 million
investment in a production plant in Três Corações.
a significant number of missionary undertakings by Irish
religious orders in Brazil. The Redemptorists established
themselves in Brazil in 1960, the Kiltegans in 1963, and the
Holy Ghosts in 1967. In 2004, John Cribbin O.M.I., of
Shanagolden, County Limerick, was awarded honorary citizenship
of Rio de Janeiro for his work there since 1962.
academic initiatives in the region, since 1999 the Associação
Brasileira de Estudos Irlandeses at the University of São
Paulo has been publishing the ABEI Journal: The Brazilian
Journal of Irish Studies, edited by Munira H. Mutran and
Laura P.Z. Izarra. The University of São Paulo has offered a
postgraduate course on Irish literature since 1977.
By the end
of 2000, it was estimated that 925 Irish citizens were living
in Brazil, 64 per cent of them in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro,
and Bahia. In Ireland, one of the most significant Latin
American communities is that of the Brazilians in counties
Galway and Roscommon dating back to 1999. Most hail from the
countryside near Anápolis in the state of Goiás and arrived
equipped with experience in working in slaughterhouses in
Brazil. A large number of Brazilians have also recently
settled in Dublin City and in Naas, County Kildare.
Adapted from: Jim Byrne, Philip Coleman and Jason King (eds.),
Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History
(Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, forthcoming 2006), with kind
permission of the publisher.
Marshall, Oliver, English, Irish and Irish-American Pioneer
(Oxford: Centre for Brazilian Studies, University of Oxford,
British and Irish Archives
(Oxford: Centre for Brazilian Studies, University of Oxford,
Peter, 'Links between Brazil
Ireland', available online (www.gogobrazil.com), cited 27
D.C.M. 'British Agricultural Colonization
in Latin America' in Inter-American Economic
Affairs (Washington, D.C.), 18:3 (Winter 1964), pp. 3-38.
Allendorfer, Frederic. 'An Irish Regiment
in Brazil 1826-1828' in The Irish
Sword Vol. 3 (1957-1958), pp. 28-31.
See also The Irish in Latin
America and Iberia: A Bibliography (Brazil). [document]