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Timeline of the Irish in Latin America
By Edmundo Murray
I - II
● St. Brendan of
Ardfert and Clonfert (484-580) stops at Mexico during his American
journey. Although not included in the ninth-century legends that
originated the story of Brendan the Voyager (Navigatio Brendani),
some Mexican historians see in Quetzalcoatl's representations by the
Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures a trace of St. Brendan's call
1400s - 1600s
of Christopher Columbus crew members in the 1492 expedition may be
from Galway. Columbus visited Galway in 1477 and was in
Church of St. Nicholas of Myra.
● Three other
Galway sailors follow Ferdinand Magellan in his circumnavigation of
the world (1519-1522).
and Tomás Farel (Farrell) are among the first settlers of Buenos Aires
city led by Pedro de Mendoza (1536).
● Thomas Field,
of Limerick arrives in Brazil (1577).
● The Real
Colegio de Nobles Irlandeses opens in Salamanca. Many of the
students in this and other Irish Colleges in Spain and Portugal will
play religious, military and administrative roles in the Spanish and
Portuguese colonial administrations in Latin America (1593).
Brothers Philip and James Purcell establish a colony in Tauregue, on
the mouth of the Amazon river. A second group arrives later led by
Bernardo O'Brien of Co. Clare (1612).
● An official
census in the Caribbean island of Montserrat shows that many of the
5,855 black slaves are owned by families with Irish surnames, such as
Daly, Farrill, Hussey, Lynch, and Roach (1729).
Spanish establishes an Irish Regiment in Mexico. All companies are
commanded by officers with Irish names, O'Hare, Barry, Fitzpatrick,
Quinn, O'Brien, Healy, O'Leary, and Treby (Tracy) (1768-1771).
First recorded St. Patrick's Day celebration in Latin America in
church built by Lancelot Belfort (1708-1775) at Kilrue by the
Itapecurú River, Maranhão State, in northern Brazil (17 March 1770).
O'Higgins (1721-1801) of Co. Sligo is made governor of Chile. Later he
will be appointed viceroy of Peru (1787).
Irish-born John McNamara and his British 45th regiment
attack without success Colonia del Sacramento in the northern bank of
the River Plate (present-day Uruguay). McNamara and most of the crew
are killed (November 1762).
Farmer (b. 1732) of Youghal, Co. Cork, commands the sloop Swift
in West Falkland (Gran Malvina) waters, but is obliged to
evacuate Port Egmont by a much larger Spanish force (1770).
O'Gorman (1749-1819) arrives in the River Plate as the official
surgeon in the expedition of the Spanish viceroy Pedro de Ceballos. He
will be the founder of the first medical school in Buenos Aires
1800s - 1810s
● Many in the
25,000-strong British forces storming the Spanish viceroyalty of the
River Plate are born in Ireland. Some of them will remain in Argentina
and Uruguay and start private migration networks from the Irish
Midlands (1806 and 1807).
● William Brown
(1777-1857) of Co. Mayo is appointed commander of the Argentine navy.
He breaks the Spanish blockade in Buenos Aires and ends the Spanish
threat to the newly independent provinces of the River Plate (1814).
● Peter Campbell
(b. 1780), a veteran of the British campaigns in the River Plate,
commands the first Uruguayan navy (1814).
● John MacKenna
(1771-1814) dies in a duel in Buenos Aires. Born in Co. Tyrone,
MacKenna was educated in Spain and in 1796 joined the Spanish colonial
administration in Peru and Chile. He fought in the Chilean war of
independence with Ambrose O'Higgins's son Bernardo (1814).
Armstrong (1797-1895) of Co. Offaly arrives in Buenos Aires. He will
become an important businessman, landowner and benefactor of the
Irish-Argentine community (1817).
● John Devereux
(d. 1854) of Co. Wexford and others recruit soldiers in Ireland to
join Simón Bolivar's independence army in South America. Daniel
O'Connell strongly supports Bolivar and sends his son Morgan. Most of
the 2,000 soldiers will return home, or die in battle and from
sickness. Among those who settled in South America are Daniel F.
O'Leary (1801-1854) in Colombia, Francis B. O'Connor (1791-1871) in
Bolivia, and Arthur Sandes (d. 1832) in Ecuador (1818-1822).
● Juan Dumphi
O'Donojú (d. 1821), son of Kerry and Tipperary immigrants in Spain,
arrives in Mexico as the last Spanish Viceroy. He signed the Treaty of
Córdoba, recognising Mexico's autonomy, and died shortly after (1821).
● Stephen Hallet,
Irish-born printer living in Buenos Aires launches La Gaceta
Anglo-Argentine Treaty of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce further
perpetuates British and Irish presence in the River Plate. Merchants
continue settling and actively trade in Montevideo and Buenos Aires
● Peter Sheridan
(1792-1844) of Co. Cavan starts a sheep-farm near Buenos Aires (1824).
● Bernard Kiernan
(1780-1863), a surveyor and astronomer of Co. Derry arrives in Buenos
Aires from the US. He settled first in St. John, New Brunswick, and
then went to the River Plate with other "Irish Yankees" (1824).
● Francis Burdett
O'Connor (1791-1871) is appointed chief of staff of the United Army of
Liberation in Peru (1824).
● Thomas Wright
founds the nautical school at Guayaquil, Ecuador (1826).
● John King
(1800-1857) of Newport, Co. Mayo joins the Argentine forces as second
lieutenant during the war against Brazil (1826).
● More than 2,500
Irish men with their families arrive in Rio de Janeiro from Cork. They
were recruited by Col. William Cotter of the imperial army to fight in
the war against Argentina. After mutinies and sickness most return to
Ireland or go to Argentina and Canada (1827).
● John Thomond
O'Brien (1786-1861), an officer in the independence wars in Argentina,
Chile and Peru, is commissioned by the government of Buenos Aires to
promote the immigration of 200 Irish labourers (1828).
colonies are established in Mexican Texas by Irish empresarios
John McMullen, James McGloin, James Power, and James Hewetson. Many
of the colonists are from Co. Wexford (1829-1836).
● St. Patrick's
Day (17 March) is celebrated with dinner and dancing in Welsh's
quinta in Buenos Aires. The previous year St. Patrick was
honoured at Willy's Naval Hotel (Irish Jemmy's) in a private
● John Dillon
opens the first brewery in Argentina (1830).
Patrick J. O'Gorman arrives at Buenos Aires to succeed Fr. Burke,
first Irish Catholic chaplain in Buenos Aires (1831).
Dickson of Dublin, storekeeper for Louis Vernet’s colonists in the
Falkland Islands, is entrusted with the care of the British flag by
Captain Onslow. Dickson is among those murdered by the gauchos led
by Antonio Rivera (1833).
Fleming, a merchant in Buenos Aires, is kidnapped by Ranqueles
Indians and later rescued by Governor Rosas' expedition (1833).
● Several Irish
farmers settle in Uruguay (1836).
increases in Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay. Irish artisans
and small businessmen are attracted to the countryside (1839).
● Total Irish
population in Buenos Aires is 3,500. At least three-fourths are from
● Father Anthony
Fahy, the leader of the Irish Argentines for forty years, arrives in
Buenos Aires (1843).
immigrants begin arriving in Argentina in larger numbers. The barque
William Peile arrives with 114 emigrants from Co. Wexford
● Robert Gore
(1810-1854) of Wexford is appointed as British chargé d'affaires in
Montevideo, and later in Buenos Aires (1846).
● Camila O'Gorman
and Father Uladislao Gutierrez elope from Buenos Aires and are
executed the following year (1847).
● A generous
Famine Relief Fund is sent by Fr Fahy to the Archbishop of Dublin,
collected both from those living far away in the "camp" and the rich
city dwellers of Buenos Aires (1847).
fifty survivors of the San Patricios Battalion are flogged, branded
and some executed in Mexico by the US military forces. Led by sergeant
John Riley, the Irish and others defected from the US forces and
crossed the lines in the US-Mexican War of 1846-1848 (10-13 September
● The Irish
Hospital is founded in Buenos Aires (1848).
● A census in the
Falkland Islands counts 74 Irish-born persons (1851).
Thousand Miles' Ride through the Argentine Provinces
is published in London (1853).
T. Donovan, an Irish Catholic priest, leads up to 400 Wexford
emigrants to Monte Bonito, near Pelotas in the then province of Rio
Grande do Sul. The Irish colony rapidly collapses, with most of the
survivors making their way to Argentina or Uruguay (1854).
Three hundred and sixty Irish labourers arrive from the US at the
construction site of the Panama Railroad. They will die in great
numbers owing to malaria, cholera and accidents (1854).
● William Russell
Grace (1832-1904) of Queenstown, Co. Laois, and his brother Michael
establish a merchant house in Callao, Peru. Their business will grow
and diversify in mining and shipping in Chile, Argentina, and other
South American countries (1854).
● Eliza Lynch
(1835-1886), the lover of dictator Francisco Solano López, arrives in
Paraguay. She will become the first lady and remain together with
López during the Triple Alliance war against Argentina, Brazil and
The Sisters of Mercy arrive in Buenos Aires (1856).
● During a yellow
fever outbreak in Uruguay, Dr.
Constantine Conyngham (1807-1868) renders important services to the
Vicuña Mackenna launches La Asamblea Constitucional paper in
Santiago, Chile (1858).
● The Sisters of
Mercy open a new school in Buenos Aires (1858).
● Wool merchant
and landowner Thomas Duggan (1827-1913) of Ballymahon, Co. Longford,
arrives in Buenos Aires. He will be reputed as
of the wealthiest Irish-born persons ever (1859).
brothers Michael G. and Edward T. Mulhall launch the daily The
Standard, printed in English and in French. It is the first
newspaper in South America to install Linotype machines (1861).
● Patrick J.
Dillon is ordained in Dublin (25 October). Some weeks later, he
arrives in Argentina and is appointed as Chaplain in Merlo and
● A subscription
is started to support the building of Daniel O'Connell's monument in
● Fr O'Gorman and
Fr Fahy are named honorary Canons of the Cathedral Church of Buenos
● M. O'Brien,
consul of Buenos Aires in Dublin, returns to Argentina (1864).
Buenos Aires and
Argentine Gleanings; with Extracts from a Diary of the Salado
Exploration in 1862 and 1863
is published in London. Hutchinson, physician and British consul in
Rosario, is a distinguished explorer and scientific writer appointed
first to Fernando Po in West Africa, then to Montevideo, Rosario and
finally Lima (1865).
● William Scully
(d. 1885) launches the Anglo-Brazilian Times of Rio de Janeiro
● Michael Duffy
is appointed Major of Carmen de Areco, and John Dowling, Military
Commander of the same department in Buenos Aires (1866).
● In England and
the US, agents of the Brazilian government actively promote Irish
Colônia Príncipe Dom Pedro (Santa Catarina). The Jesuit Joseph Lazenby
of Rio de Janeiro, and Fr. George Montgomery of Wednesbury contribute
with some Irish from England. The scheme ends in complete failure
gather thousands of irlandeses in Luján, Navarro, and Capilla
del Señor distritcs of Buenos Aires (1867).
Fitzsimons (1802-1872), a teacher of Ennis, Co. Clare, is commissioned
by the Argentine President Domingo F. Sarmiento to open the new
Colegio Nacional in Corrientes (1869).
● The 1869
National Census returns include 10,709 British subjects residents in
Argentina, 8,623 of them bearing Irish surnames, and 5,246 Irish-born.
(Allen's Chapel) opens in Michael Allen's estancia, Castilla (1870).
● St. Patrick's
Society is founded as the first political undertaking of the Irish in
Argentina. It will also be a funding institution to promote further
immigration from Ireland, and will be succeeded by the Admiral Brown
● Stella Maris
Chapel opens in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (1873).
● Dr. John (Juan)
Creaghe (1841-1920) of Limerick arrives in Buenos Aires from Sheffield
(1874). A well-known physician and anarchist, Creaghe published
(1893-97), which became La Protesta Humana (1897-1903), and the
hugely influential La Protesta (1903 to present day).
Nicholas Lowe (1827-1902) launches the Daily News, addressed
to Protestant readers, and the Buenos Ayres News and River Plate
● First issue of
The Southern Cross, founded by Fr Patrick J. Dillon (1875).
● The Ladies
Irish Beneficent Society founded by Mary Brennan (née Colclough)
● Second edition
of M.G. and E.T. Mulhall's Handbook of the River Plate Republics
published in Buenos Aires (1875).
Foran is the first resident Catholic priest in Falkland Islands. He
will be in this position for eleven years (1875).
● Santa Lucía
chapel opens on Juan Harrington's estancia in San Pedro (1876).
● St. George's
College is founded by Fr Patrick J. Dillon, aiming at Irish and other
English-speaking boys (1876).
● Michael Mahon
(1815-1881) is elected Vice-President of the Home Rule League in
Capilla del Señor (1876).
Brandon, a Church of Ireland clergyman from Co. Carlow, becomes
Colonial Chaplain of the Falkland Islands. He will found the first
savings bank, establish abstinence societies to combat drunkenness,
and launch the Falklands Islands Magazine (1877).
● The College of
Luján, for the sons of Irish Catholic sheep-farmers, is opened by Fr
Eduardo Casey (1847-1906) purchases 1,700 square miles of land from
the Government of Santa Fe together with William R. Gilmour, and begin
reselling to English, Irish and other farmers (1879).
● In the middle
of bitter anti-religious thrust and lack of support from the Irish
community, the Sisters of Mercy leave Argentina. They sail to
Liverpool and most of them go to the Order's mission in Mount Gambier,
● A great Land
League meeting is held in Salto, and a branch of the home organisation
established there (1881).
● The Irish
Relief Fund is launched by Fr Martin Byrne, of the Passionist Order
● Michael Dinneen
is appointed editor of The Southern Cross, succeeding Fr Dillon
● Holy Cross
Church of the Passionist Fathers opens in Buenos Aires (1883).
● Edmundo and
Guillermo Dennehy found Dennehy town in 9 de Julio, Buenos
● The Irish
Catholic Association is founded in Buenos Aires (1883).
● William Bulfin
(1862-1910), journalist and writer, arrives in Buenos Aires. He will
contribute to, and later direct and own, the Southern Cross
newspaper. Bulfin will also launch the first GAA in Latin America
● Azcuénaga, a
village in San Andrés de Giles, is founded in 16 squares of land
donated by Juan Cunningham (1885).
● The Pallotines
establish in Argentina (1886).
● Francis Joseph
Foley, teacher and future editor of the Southern Cross, arrives
in Buenos Aires (1886).
● Buckley O'Meara
and John Stephen Dillon (brother of Fr Patrick Dillon) are hired by
the Government to promote emigration from Ireland to Argentina (1887).
● The Venado
Tuerto Polo and Athletic Club is founded (1888).
Irish Argentine newspaper is founded by Fr. Bernard Feeney
(1844-1919) in Azcuénaga, Buenos Aires (1888).
Uruguay, Eduardo Casey purchases The River Plate Times paper
Argentine branch of the Gaelic League is founded in the Passionist
monastery of Capitán Sarmiento, being J.E. O'Curry its first president
● The "Dresden
Affair": 1,774 Irish emigrants deceived by agents O'Meara and Dillon
are embarked in the steamer
City of Dresden
to Buenos Aires. Peter Gartland starts an Irish Colony in Napostá,
with some of the Dresden emigrants. Fr.
Matthew Gaughren, O.M.I. (1843-1914) and others try to help the
Several children die of sickness (1889).
● The Sisters of
Mercy are back in Argentina (1890).
● The Fahy
Institute is founded with thirty-three boys of the returned colonists
of Napostá (1891).
● Thomas Mason
founds Santa Rosa, in La Pampa (1892).
● The Lobos
Athletic Club is founded in the province of Buenos Aires. Tomás P.
Moore is the first captain of the foot-ball team (1892).
Kathleen Boyle (née Jones) (1869-1941) founds the English School of
San Martín, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. It will be later renamed
to San Patricio (1894).
● The Parnell
Fund is remitted to Justin MacCarthy for the benefit of the Irish
Evicted Tenants (1894).
● In the
Argentine census 18,617 individuals bear Irish surnames and 5,407 are
born in Ireland. Fr Patrick O'Grady opens a chapel in Rivas railway
station, Suipacha department (1895).
Athletic Club is founded in Buenos Aires as the first Irish-Argentine
foot-ball institution, with Santiago G. O'Farrell as president (1895).
railway station and town are founded in San Antonio de Areco (1896).
the Spanish-American War, the head of the Milligan Guards of Arizona
William "Buckey" O'Neill is killed at San Juan Hill, Cuba (1898).
railway station and town are founded in Salto (1898).
● St. Brigid's
school opens in Buenos Aires, initially managed by the Missionaries of
the Sacred Heart and two years later by the Sisters of Mercy (1899).
1900s - 2000s
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