Dictionary of Irish Latin American Biography

J. Farrell (1887-1980)
(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 March 1944.

A 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 countries.

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.

In 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.

Edmundo Murray

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 del centenario. Buenos Aires, 1975.

Copyright © ABC-CLIO, 2005

Online published: 1 November 2005
Edited: 07 May 2009

Murray, Edmundo, '
Farrell, Edelmiro Julián (1887-1980)' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" November-December 2005 (


The Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2005

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