John (b. 1824), landowner and founder of Azcuénaga town, was born in Ballymore, Co. Westmeath, the
son of Thomas Cunningham (1786-1862) and his wife Rebecca. On 20 June
1848 John Cunningham arrived in Argentina
from Liverpool with his parents and his seven brothers and sisters.
The family "belonged to that valuable class the emigration
of which must ere long prove the ruin of Ireland &
a blessing to the country of their adoption. They were
highly respectable; they and all their friends & connections
are intelligent, trustworthy & religious" (Coghlan
1987: 207). John Cunningham married Mary Anne, the daughter of Hugh MacKay and Anne
Mooney, and sister of Margaret Cunningham [née
MacKay] (c.1840-1905), married to John's elder brother, Thomas Cunningham
Cunningham settled in San Andrés de Giles, a district in
the province of Buenos Aires.
According to the local historian Héctor R. Terrén,
Cunningham purchased land in 1865 from Alvaro de la Riestra, and
thus established estancia La Paloma. The holding included more than two thousand hectares
between Giles and Sauce streams.
Cunningham was a prominent supporter of Roman Catholic
organisations. On 5 June 1883, together with
Guillermo Casey (married to John's niece Margarita Cunningham)
and with the leadership of Fr. Patrick J. Dillon, John
a committee to continue the works once initiated by Fr. Anthony
Fahy. This group would become later the Irish
1 April 1880, when the railway arrived to San Andrés de Giles from the city of
Buenos Aires, Azcuénaga station
was opened. John Cunningham donated sixteen hectares of his land
in front of the station to build a new town, which is
present-day Azcuénaga. In 1886, Cunningham put part of La Paloma
to sale. The Sillón family
acquired the house, and other sections were purchased by Florentino
and Julio Lacroze (who later established La Favorita).
With the proceedings of this sale, John Cunningham
estancia, five kilometres from La Paloma, which he named
San Juan. In this new place, he built a stately house. Later
Cunningham and moved with his family to the city of Buenos
Aires, but continued using the estancia to receive
Mary Anne died in 1921, and the family sold the estancia
to Fortunato Cufré.
Cantwell to Anthony D. Fahy,
26 November 1848 in: Coghlan,
Eduardo A., Los Irlandeses en la Argentina:
Su Actuación y Descendencia (Buenos Aires,
1987), p. 207.
Eduardo A., El Aporte de los Irlandeses a la Formación
de la Nación Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1982), p. 41.
Gonzalo, Descendencia de Tomás Cunningham en la
Argentina, manuscript unpublished.