Home > The Journey: Irish Passengers

Irish Passengers to Argentina (1822-1929)

The following list includes 7,159 passengers. It is a published version of the Irish Passengers to Argentina Database, which was compiled from diverse sources. The most important of them was Eduardo A. Coghlan's El Aporte de los Irlandeses a la Formación de la Nación Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1982), Table I, pp. 25-107. Coghlan transcribed data from the files of Archivo General de la Nación ('Libros de Entradas de Pasajeros' 1822-1862), and from the arrival lists published by 'The Standard' newspaper from 1863 to 1880 [1]. The author selected those passenger surnames presumably of Irish origin, and sorted all entries alphabetically. The Irish Passengers to Argentina Database includes 58% of records from Coghlan 1982. Other lists have been added to the database, particularly, from CEMLA database. CEMLA (Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos) is a non-profit organisation based in Buenos Aires, which since 1985 works in the field of microfilm and database transcription of Argentine immigrant records. The database includes 42% of records from CEMLA database, particularly 1,772 records from the SS Dresden ship manifest, which make 1/4 of the database.

Alphabetical list sorted by last name

The Irish Passengers to Argentina Database includes a relatively small portion of all Irish emigrants bound to Argentina. According to Patrick McKenna (1994), during the nineteenth century, 40-45,000 Irish emigrants arrived in Argentina. Approximately one out of two of these emigrants settled in the country, and the other re-emigrated to other destinations of the Irish Diaspora, particularly, North America and Australia. Therefore, this list would be a more or less representative sample of the Irish emigrants who arrived in Argentina during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In his book, Eduardo Coghlan totals 4,129 immigrants. However, in page 16 of the Introduction (Table 1: 'Irish persons arriving at Argentina through the Port of Buenos Aires 1822-1880, classified by gender'), Coghlan mentions a total of 5,306 immigrants (to this point, I have not been able to find a satisfactory explanation to this difference). We should be grateful to the great job done by Eduardo Coghlan in registering the arrivals of a significant percentage of the Irish immigrants in Argentina.

Out of 1,669 Irish immigrants whose citizenship was registered by Coghlan, 1,233 (74%) declared English citizenship. This may be due to the fact, as he explains in p. 20, that immigration officers registered all English-speaking passengers under English citizenship, regardless of their origin. Additionally, the Irish held British passports until the 1920's, so it was acceptable for the local authorities to register them as 'inglés' (which was the official denomination reserved for all British citizens in nineteenth-century Argentina). However, this would not explain why 26% of them were registered as Irish. Other possibility is that a majority of the immigrants simply wanted to be qualified as English. During the twentieth century, however, only 8% of passengers declared English citizenship, which is a direct result of the political events that took place in Ireland in the first decades of this century. Interesting enough, typically Irish given names, as Padraic or Seamus, are registred only from the 1900s on.

Liverpool was, by far, the most important port of departure in every period, with 50% of the passengers for whom a port of departure is declared (6,447). Follow Queenstown (now Cobh), 28%; Dublin, 8%; Southampton 6%; London, 3%; and New York, 1%.

Further studies should be undertaken to research the makers, owners, crew, sailing patterns and other details of the ships in which the Irish emigrated to Argentina. Some of these data for the ships most frequently used are provided in the next chart. From 1851, steam ships were used in the South Atlantic seaways with great improvement of speed. In 1868-78, Lamport & Holt (Liverpool, Brazil and River Plate Steam Navigation Co.) operated some of the ships used by Irish emigrants (Leibnitz, Agamennon, Tycho Brahe, Maskelyne, Hipparcus, Kepler, Pascal, Copernicus and Biela). This company carried contract mails for the British Post Office thus offering regular services to the River Plate. An average journey took a maximum of 34 days from Liverpool to Buenos Aires, calling at Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo (or alternatively at Lisbon and Bahia), versus 60 to 90 days for the sail ships in use up to 1851. In a letter written by W. J. Lamport to F. I. Scudamore, of the General Post Office, London, on 15 June 1868, he expressed that 'the number of British Settlers in these States [Argentina and Uruguay] is immensely large - and, unlike most other fields which attract immigration, they comprise all classes of society from the Upper middle class downwards. A very great number of the "estancias" and "saladeros" (ranches and meat-salting plants) in the country are the property of and managed and worked by Englishmen' [2]. 

The 1889 arrival of the SS Dresden represents the end of the Irish nineteenth-century emigration to Argentina. She 'carried the largest number of passengers ever to arrive in Argentina from any one destination on any one vessel,' and was the result of a deceitful immigration scheme managed by 'the Argentine government agents in Ireland - J. O’Meara, and John S. Dillon, a brother of the famous Canon Patrick Dillon who founded The Southern Cross. [The affair] became infamous and was denounced in Parliament, press and pulpit ' [3]. These emigrants came from poor urban areas of Dublin and Limerick and most of the adults were city labourers and servants. After that, and up to the end of the 1910s, the Irish immigration was irrelevant. But in the 1920s, there was yet another peak of arrivals from Ireland (76% of 1900-1929 Ireland-born passengers arrived in the 20s), in which the majority of immigrants were educated urban professionals, with a higher proportion of Church of Ireland religion. This increase may have been a consequence of political, social, and economic turmoil in Ireland. However, it ended by the end of 1929, as a consequence of the global financial crisis that seriously affected the employment and economic growth of Argentina and other countries.

During the nineteenth century, the ships most frequently used by the Irish emigrants to Argentina were the following:



Number of Irish Passengers 
(all trips)

SS Dresden 1889 1,772
La Zíngara 1860-1869* 581


1861-1863 312

Bess Grant 

1849-1861 170

William Peile (Peele) 

1844-1851 161
Uruguay  1863-1869 155
W. Wilch (Water Witch)  1857 116


1849 99
Istria  1858-1866 89
Isabella  1861 85
Crossdale  1849 81
Fortitude  1829-1849 57
Hamstead  1866-1873 65
La Belle Poule  1859-1864 61
Williams  1838-1865 61
Hipparcus  1869-1873 60
Copernicus  1869-1873 54
Victoria  1851 53
Córdoba  1863-1867 53
Biela  1870-1878 51
TOTAL   4,136 

* Previous entries are probably referred to other vessel with the same name.

In the twentieth century, the Nelson Line was an important carrier of Irish passengers to Argentina. Founded by James Nelson in Buenos Aires, this company pioneered the carriage of refrigerated cargos, including meat, operating from South America (Nelson owned Las Palmas meat-processing plant). With the emigrant flow to South America growing at a high rate, in 1910 Nelson added new calls in London, Boulogne, Corunna, and Vigo, and its ships were adapted to the emigrant trade. It became one of the associated companies of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., with its own subsidiaries. Some of the Nelson emigrant ships were Highland Corrie, Highland Glen, Highland Harris, and Highland Laddie.

Acknowledgements: This list could not have been compiled without the help of Jorge Fox, who kindly scanned Eduardo Coghlan's volume in html format. In addition to this, I am grateful to Margarita O'Farrell de Coghlan and to Martha Coghlan for the authorisation to use Eduardo Coghlan's information. I am also indebted to Michael Geraghty, who generously submitted the passenger list of the SS Dresden, transcribed by Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos (CEMLA), and to Alicia Bernasconi of CEMLA for her contribution of Irish arrivals 1889-1929.



[1] The Buenos Aires Standard, published weekly, later daily, from 1861 to 1959, and founded by brothers Michael George Mulhall (1836-1900) and Edward Thomas Mulhall (1832-1899). 

[2] Howat, Jeremy N. T., South American Packets 1808-1880 (York: William Sessions Ltd., 1984) pp. 159-174. 

[3] Geraghty, Michael John, Argentina: Land of Broken Promises, in: Buenos Aires Herald (17 March 1999)


The Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2006

 Copyright Information