Dictionary of Irish Latin American Biography

Oughan [Oughagan], John (b.1782?), physician and military surgeon, was born in Ireland in on about 1782. After some years spent in the United States, Dr. Oughan was recruited to act as a surgeon in the Wars of Independence. He sailed on the Clifton and arrived at Buenos Aires on 9 February 1817, and attended the revolutionary armies in Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. 

In the beginning of the nineteenth century Oughan appears to have acted as the secretary of the Irish merchants in Buenos Aires. On 28 June 1825 Oughan wrote to the Archbishop of Dublin arguing that “North America is not a country proper for Irish settlers. These, their identity, their ancient faith, and the peculiar cast of their national character, in the mixture of many nations, is totally confounded and lost for ever”. In promoting Argentina he wrote, “Thanks to Providence a very different destiny awaits them here. It would seem that Heaven had at length interposed to protect some few of her faithful followers and created this new world, as the land of promise where harassed Irishmen may pause from toil and Christianity devastated of all its secters and impurities may flower again and become infallible”. Dr. Oughan went on to state that “this country, fertile and vast beyond limits, abounding with all that nature can furnish... will welcome [the Irish] with special preference and instead of being the drudges of the rest of mankind, may set themselves down in societies in various parts of these boundless plains...’ (McKenna 1994).

According to Thomas Murray, Dr. Oughan was an "unrelenting enemy of O’Higgins and San Martin and the governing party in Buenos Aires; so, when he arrived in this city, and his plan became known, Supreme Director Juan Martín de Pueyrredon made him a prisoner and placed the new ships and their complements of men and munitions at the service of the common cause. Oughan passed over to the liberating armies under San Martin and remained for some time in Peru after the independence of the western Republics had been secured. He returned to Argentina in the early 1820s and at once became a very noted doctor. He quarrelled with Parish, the English Minister, and was shamefully persecuted by him and the English then in Buenos Aires. [...] Early in January 1825 Dr. Oughan’s furniture was sold in public auction under orders of the English Minister. Oughan, it appears, had made himself objectionable to the English residents, and the English representative had him confined in a hospital as a lunatic, and in due time shipped to England. When he got home he instigated proceedings at law against the Consul, in the high courts, and got judgment on his favor. Soon after he returned to Buenos Aires, ... made things rather unpleasant for both the English Legation people and himself" (Murray 1919). In 1839 Ougaghan returned once more to Ireland with his wife. He was considered a very distinguished physician, and as a surgeon gained fame in England and in France. 

Edmundo Murray


- Murray, Thomas, The Story of the Irish in Argentina (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1919), pp. 37, 66, 103.

- McKenna, Patrick, Nineteenth Century Irish Emigration to, and Settlement in, Argentina (St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare: MA Geography thesis, 1994), pp. 90, 98.

Copyright © Society for Irish Latin American Studies

Online published: 1 April 2004
Edited: 07 May 2009

Murray, Edmundo, '
Oughan, John (b.1782?)' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" November-December 2005 (


The Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2005

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