The Midlands

Lough Ree on river Shannon from Barley Harbour, Co. Longford.

More than a half of the nineteenth-century Irish emigration to Argentina came from the Midlands: Westmeath (42.9%), Longford (15.3%), and Offaly, ex-King's County (3.1%). The area of highest emigration was 'a quadrangle on the Longford/Westmeath border stretching roughly from Athlone to Edgeworthstown, to Mullingar and to Kilbeggan' (Kirby 1992: 105). Northern Offaly is also included in this sending area. The epicentre of this area is Ballymore, Co. Westmeath.

A soldier of the British Campaigns in the River Plate 1806 and 1807 turn rural settler, 'was John Murray from Streamstown, Co. Westmeath, who obtained work on a creole estancia, where he worked his way up to the position of mayordomo. By 1880 the Murrays had moved to Santa Fe province where they settled on a large estancia, purchased for them by their former employers in gratitude for their loyal service. The Murrays still own that estancia and remain one of the principal Irish land owners in southern Santa Fe. While there is no direct evidence linking Murray with Irish emigration, the first recorded Irish emigrants who landed in Argentina in the nineteenth century did come from Streamstown. They were John Mooney and his son-in-law Patrick Bookey. Mooney and Bookey arrived in Buenos Aires in 1827. What is certain is that Mooney and Murray, coming from the same parish and being about the same age, even if they did not serve in the same regiment, would have known each other from childhood and Murray's success could have been very influential in encouraging others from the same area to emigrate to Buenos Aires. Therefore the initial link that was established between Westmeath [i.e., counties Westmeath, Longford, and Offaly], the largest sending area in Ireland, and Argentina was through British military contact, though the growth and expansion of emigration from that area was due solely to the opportunities created by trade and commerce' [McKenna 1994: 94-96].

Some frequent areas of emigration to Argentina were: Ballymore, Ballyncarrigy, Drumraney, Mullingar, Moyvore, Miltown, Loughnavally, and Kilbeggan (Westmeath); Ballymahon, Edgeworthstown, Ardagh, Carrickedmond, Forgney, and Abbeyshrule (Longford); and Clara and Tullamore (Offaly).

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Wexford - Midlands  I - Midlands II - Midlands III - Midlands IV
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The Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2005

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