(La Nación, 17 October 1945)
Farrell, Edelmiro Julián
(1887-1980), army officer and president of the Argentine
Republic in 1944-1946, was born on
12 February 1887 in Villa de los Industriales (Lanús, Buenos
Aires). He was the tenth son of Juan Farrell (b. 1846) and
Catalina Plaul (1852-1917), and grandson of Matthew Farrell (d.
1860) of Co. Longford and Mónica Ibañez.
Edelmiro J. Farrell joined the army in 1905 and graduated as
second lieutenant of the infantry regiment. He spent most of his
career in Mendoza, where he specialized in mountaineering
fighting units. In 1924 Farrell traveled to Italy to receive
special instruction with the Alpine regiments of the Italian
army. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1927, colonel in
1931, and general in 1941, being appointed director of the
military mountaineering school. For his brilliant career Farrell
was awarded the "Cóndor de Oro" medal.
Being a major general, Farrell was one of the main figures of
the military coup d'état of 4 June 1943 led by Pedro
Pablo Ramírez. They replaced the discredited administration
headed by Ramón Castillo by general Arturo Rawson. Rawson was
succeeded by Ramírez, who appointed Farrell to the war ministry.
When Vice-President rear admiral Sabá Sueyro died, Farrell was
named in his stead. In February 1944, general Ramírez was
deposed by a pro-German military coup after announcing that
Argentina would comply with the requirements of the United
States against the Axis. The Vice-President and minister of war Edelmiro J. Farrell took over as president, being sworn on 12
leading figure of Farrell's administration was Col. Juan D.
Perón (1895-1974). It was Perón who became the most powerful man
in Argentina, by cornering such appointments as Vice-President,
minister of war, head of the labor and welfare secretariat, and
chairman of the council for post-war planning. Perón was a
member of a secretive group of officers who came to be known by
the United Officers Group (GOU), which was supported by
Farrell. They were strong supporters of the Central Powers, sympathizing
not only with the war efforts of Germany and Italy but also with
the social model that Hitler and Mussolini had introduced in
their countries (Franco's Spain was another source of
inspiration). These officers conformed to a long tradition of
nationalism, contempt for democracy, anti-Semitism and pro-Germanism
in the Argentine army. Perón, as Farrell before, spent time in
Italy to receive training, and was deeply impressed above all
with the personality and social policies of Mussolini. Both
officers found in European fascism the magic formula which they
believed could turn Argentina into an influential nation capable
of asserting its independence against the most powerful
The end of the war and hopes for better times led to a dramatic
rise in labour disputes. Civil war was in the air, and Farrell
began to realise that the hour of defeat was near at hand. The
pressure became too great, the controversial Vice-President Juan Perón was forced to resign and was arrested on 12 October 1945. But Perón was no longer just an army officer, he was also
Argentina's foremost labour leader. Union leaders and young
officers loyal to Perón began, with Eva (Evita) Duarte's
help, to mobilize resistance. The moment of truth for Farrell
came on 17 October 1945, when the working population of
Buenos Aires took the streets en masse, filled the Plaza
de Mayo in front of the presidential palace, and demanded
Perón's release. Farrell took the opportunity of resuming
control of the situation. Perón was instantly released,
reinstated in all his appointments and enabled, from the balcony
of the presidential palace, to address a jubilant crowd
estimated at 300,000 persons. This was the victory of the
Argentine poor, descamisados ("the shirtless") and the
despised cabecitas negras ("small black heads") had now
become a force to reckon with in Argentina's history.
July 1945 Farrell announced that a presidential election would
be held in February 1946. Perón was the obvious candidate and,
with 54 per cent of the votes cast, he had defeated the
candidate of the united opposition. Farrell gave place to Perón,
who was sworn new president on 4 June 1946.
Edelmiro Farrell's nationalistic
ideology and love of Argentine folkloric music and dance - he
was a skilful guitar player - led him to enforce live musical
performances before film projections in movie theatres. In
Buenos Aires, some shows were very good and several in the
middle-class with immigrant origins became interested in
national music. Farrell
retired from active service in 1947 and played a significant
role in the accomplishment of municipal self-government for his
home neighbourhood, Lanús. He spent his last days in Buenos Aires,
where he lived in the Kavanagh building of Plaza San Martín, and
died on 31 October 1980.
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).
Coghlan, Eduardo A. Los Irlandeses en la
Argentina: Su Actuación y Descendencia.
Buenos Aires, 1987.
Rojas, Mauricio. The Sorrows of Carmencita:
Argentina's Crisis in a Historical Perspective.
Stockholm: AB Timbro, 2002.
The Southern Cross. Número
Buenos Aires, 1975.