Dictionary of Irish Latin American Biography

John James Murphy
(Anastasia Joyce collection)

Murphy, John James [formerly John] (1822-1909), landowner and sheep-farmer, was born at Haysland, in the Kilrane parish of Co. Wexford, the eldest son of Nicholas Murphy and Katherine Sinnott (1792-1861).

John Murphy emigrated to Argentina in 1844, sailing in the barke William Peile with other emigrants from Wexford. He first worked as a ditch digger and shepherd in Chascomús. In 1855, he established in Salto, Buenos Aires. In fourteen years, John Murphy owned two estancias, La Flor del Uncalito in Salto and La Caldera in Rojas. He was the first landowner in Northern Buenos Aires to fence his holding. In 1867 John Murphy married Ellen (1846-1921), the daughter of Patrick Roche (1807-1881) and Margaret Reville (d.1866). He adopted the middle name James for his brother-in-law James Furlong. John J. Murphy and Margaret Reville had five daughters and four sons.

In 1878 John Murphy returned to Ireland with his family and rented his lands in Argentina. Two of his children died in Ireland, and the family went back to Argentina on January 1882. Under the favourable conditions created after the war against the Indians, on 15 March 1883 Murphy purchased from Eduardo Casey eight leagues (18,600 hectares) in the south of Santa Fe province, one of the best regions of the pampas.

Whether directly of through others, John J. Murphy was responsible for a significant share of the emigration to Argentina from the Kilrane parish. Typically, prospect emigrants were selected by his younger brother Martin Murphy (1829-1899), who remained at home, or his wife's uncle Fr. Clement Reville O.F.M. (1804-1877) of Wexford Town. Emigrants were advanced the passage ticket and travel expenses and they had to work a year in the Murphy's estancias in Salto and Rojas to pay for their journey. Men were hired as ranch hands and the women as cooks and domestic service. After a try period Murphy would offer the best men to mind one of his flocks of sheep on halves. Several young people from Wexford emigrated in this way to Argentina, and some of them settled in the country, among them John Murphy's brothers William Murphy (1827-1890) and Patrick Murphy (1832-1881).

John J. Murphy died on 13 July 1909 at his house of 4191 Rivadavia, Almagro, and was buried in Recoleta cemetery. Most of the land in Santa Fe was sold out to tenants, and a railway station was named after him.

Edmundo Murray


- Murray, Edmundo, From Kilrane to the Irish Pampas: The Thriving Story of John James Murphy, in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" ( accessed 14 May 2003.
- Coghlan, Eduardo A., Los Irlandeses en la Argentina: Su Actuación y Descendencia (Buenos Aires, 1987), p. 706.
- Ortigüela, Raúl, Murphy, en Tierras Benditas (Venado Tuerto, 1991).
- Anastasia Joyce Collection, letters of the Murphy family.

Copyright � Society for Irish Latin American Studies

Online published: 1 June 2003
Edited: 07 May 2009

Murray, Edmundo, 'Murphy, John James
(1822-1909)' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" November-December 2005 (


The Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2005

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