by José Vian, 1939
businessman and land entrepreneur, was born
on 20 April 1847 in estancia 'El Durazno' (Lobos, Buenos
Aires). Son of Lawrence Casey (1803-1876) of Co. Westmeath,
who arrived in Argentina circa 1830, and Mary O'Neill
(1806-1910) of Co. Wicklow. Lawrence Casey was the
first estanciero to pay one million pesos for a league
of land in an auction in Buenos Aires city. A brother of
Eduardo Casey, Guillermo Casey (b. 1855), was
a well-known estanciero in the district of Las Heras, as well as
commander and city mayor.
Casey followed his father's work in the camp, as
well as his passion for horses. In order to improve the
breeding of his horses, he founded a stud farm. In 1878,
at 30 years old, he owned a farming agent company. Casey
was the first exporter of bovine cattle on the hoof to
England, shipping five hundred head on the 'Nestorian'
(Allan Lines). He was one of the founders of 'La Blanca'
cold-storage plant, and he served as a member of the board
in the Western Railway Company and the Buenos Aires Provincial
his first business achievement was the purchase of 72
leagues of land (130,000 hectares) in 'Venado Tuerto'
(Southern Santa Fe). These lands have been recently taken
from Indian control, and they were considered very important
by the Argentine public. In 1881, Casey also acquired
100 leagues of land in Curumalal, Coronel Suárez. Two
years later, all this land was fenced and settled with
40,000 cows, 50,000 sheep, and 10,000 horses.
On 25 May
1877, Eduardo Casey married María Inés, daughter of John Gahan
of Ballynacarrigy, Co. Westmeath,
and Mary Devitt. Eduardo and María Inés had five children:
Angela, Arturo, Vicente, Elena, and Lily.
Casey's business eagerness led him to risky speculation.
As a member of the Sociedad de Elevadores y Depósitos
de Granos del Riachuelo, he made investments in Uruguay,
which weakened his finance position. In 1890, the crisis
in Montevideo, Uruguay, seriously affected the company.
He lost all his assets, and even his private properties
were put on auction. After this, he went to London in
order to recover economically. When he went back to Buenos
Aires with £100,000 fresh from loans, he repaid in its
entirety the debt incurred with small investors who have
deposited in his firm. During 16 years, Casey tried to
overcome the financial losses. However, on 16 June 1906,
he died on the railway tracks, close to
'Mercado de Abasto.' Frequently, Eduardo Casey's
biographers omit the fact that he committed suicide. He
was 58 years old, impoverished, and ignored by the society
which owed so much to his contributions.
life was an example of integrity and honest values. He
was a passionate advocate of the settlement and modernisation
of Argentina, particularly in Southern Santa Fe. Thanks
to the government and the people of Venado Tuerto, as
well as to his grandson Julián Duggan, on 26 April 1973,
Casey's remains were buried in Venado Tuerto, together
with those of his wife and two children. On these grounds,
a vault was built in the city cemetery by architect Julio
historian Roberto Landaburu, who published Irlandeses:
Eduardo Casey, Vida y Obra remarks that 'from the
time I began to study about Venado Tuerto's foundation, I
don't know exactly why, Eduardo Casey was an amazing character
for me. His life was getting more and more interesting
to me, particularly when I heard that he committed suicide.
After publishing Gringos in 1991, I decided to
research the life of Casey. The result is Irlandeses,
which is just the biography of this eccentric and passionate
person. Even today,
of our people in Venado Tuerto does not know that, thanks
to the vision of Antonio Garnier, City Major in 1973,
Casey's remain are buried in the local cemetery, at the
end of the main entrance. [...] Certainly, Casey was one
of the stars of the 1880s. He was involved in the turbulence
of business and financial speculation. He reached the
top, and he experienced the madness of accumulating a
colossal wealth and of loosing it in a jiffy during the
economic crash of the 1890s. He founded the Buenos Aires
Jockey Club together with Carlos Pellegrini and others,
he built the Mercado de Frutos in Avellaneda, the Customs
House, the port and Reus quarter in Montevideo... and
so many other things.
publishing Irlandeses, Imelda Araujo (née Casey),
who was a daughter of his elder brother Lorenzo, told
me that when Eduardo and Lorenzo were young, they used
to ride their horses in Lobos or Navarro (I don't remember).
They rode through the open, still unwired camp,
and Eduardo raved about the vastness of the Pampa. 'Let's go to that pool!' he would said to his brother, and they galloped
there. 'Let's climb that hillock!' And then: 'Let's go
to those chañares!' and so on. Lorenzo used to
tell him: 'Come on Eduardo. It's lunch time and Mom doesn't
like us to arrive late...,' but to no avail. He was always
galloping far-off... and looking the huge grassland he
exclaimed: 'Look this camp, look Lorenzo, it never
brothers were accomplished riders, and like all Irish
folks, they were passionate lovers of horses. Eduardo,
who was always very smart and well-dressed with top hat
and frock coat, was very gaucho. When he was in
a cuadrera race, he observed the racing horses
and then he would say: 'I will ride that horse and pay
for it.' Unprepared to this, most people wouldn't take
him seriously... But he took the top hat and the frock
coat off, he got on the chosen horse, and he rode with
centaur's strength and skill. When winning, he would pay
his bet, and when losing he would pay anyway... This was
the reason why gauchos loved Don Eduardo, and he
was treated as a real criollo.
horse-race fan and gambler, Casey was extremely generous.
Just after the founding of Venado Tuerto, several Irish
ladies asked him to help with the church. Being a zealous
Catholic like all Irish settlers, he built the initial
church (a beautiful construction already pulled down,
with a splendid altar) with his own funds.
Casey came with his friends to Venado Tuerto to go over
his land, his people arranged baggage and camping gear
in many coaches. But one of the wagons was reserved for
wine and champagne, that were used generously during celebrations.
When he heard the story of the one-eyed deer, and he decided
to found the village with this name.
his friends were visiting estancia Curumalal, in Buenos
Aires, Casey used to arrange for a railway convoy for
guests and victuals. He was a handsome man, a very good
dancer and singer, and a skilled impersonator. He has
knocked around a lot. He met Buffalo Bill, who asked him
for gaucho horse-breakers for his circus. Ten gauchos
(among them, Gorosito of Melincué) were selected by Casey
and sent to England. In Europe, they were world-famous
with their expertise.
his life went on... They auctioned all his properties,
even his personal furniture. His brother Santiago Casey
bought them anonymously and gave them back to him. By
the end, Eduardo was by his own. His wife abandoned him
in 1902. By 1906 he was promoting new projects, but nobody
wanted to hear about them. He wanted to build inexpensive
houses for poor workers who were living in city tenements,
like he did in Reus quarter of Montevideo.
When he arrived at Barracas, in the city of Buenos Aires,
he had plans and projects in his pockets. He saw the engine
coming, he threw the papers away, he looked farther at
the green Argentine pampas, and he went galloping, like
a gaucho, with the last gallop that never ends.'
José Bernardo Wallace
Landaburu, Roberto, Irlandeses: Eduardo Casey, Vida
y Obra (Venado Tuerto: Fondo Editor Mutual de Venado
- Web site 'Lote' (www.revistalote.com.ar/nro050/personalidad.htm),
accessed 14 May 2003.
- Web site 'Sitio Oficial de la Ciudad de Venado Tuerto'
(www.venadotuerto.gov.ar/hlafunda.htm), accessed 14 May