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'Disappointed and completely left destitute'
Victims of Argentine Immigration Agents in Ireland


About 1,700 Irish emigrants were deceived by the government immigration agents John Stephen Dillon and H. Buckley O'Meara, and sailed from Cobh to Buenos Aires in early 1889 to encounter enormous difficulties for them and their families. But several others were also promised assisted passages and did not receive their tickets or their ship never arrived. The following letter is a sample of many cases included in Commercial Papers N 32 (1889), 'Correspondence respective Emigration to the Argentine Republic' (London: Harrison and Sons, 1889), p. 86, in which a potential emigrant complains of the Agents' lack of fulfillment of their promises. In addition, a list of 317 'Persons who have suffered loss through being disappointed of their Passages' is included in that document (pp. 63-67), with a remark at the end that 'to the above are to be added the number on the official lists of the Cork office, written for but not yet received, and consisting of at least an equal number' (p. 67).

James Dooner to Timothy Michael Healy, M.P., 14 September 1889 (Kilbeggan, County Westmeath)

The Undersigned, James Dooner, humbly begs to bring under your kind consideration the following facts, trusting you will take the trouble of having me remunerated for the great loss I have sustained.

Firstly, I am a poor dealer, going round with my donkey and wares. I have a wife and eleven children, eight of which were earning more or less, when I was induced to apply for tickets for passages, in March last, to bring us out to the Argentine Republic. We duly received documents, which we duly filled up and had signed as directed, and forwarded them to the Agent. The Agent in Cork, Mr. Marley, wrote me to have all ready about the 15th March, 1889.

Timothy M. Healy

In consequence of these communications, I disposed of my donkey, my little furniture, and, above all, of a large heap of manure - the greatest loss, as I have now no potatoes. My children have all lost their employment, and are scattered over England, &c., and are now of no use to me or my wife. The above true facts will, I am sure, bring before you what must be the real state of us after being disappointed and completely left destitute by those misrepresentations of the Argentine Republic Agents. Trusting you will see after us, and God may bless you always, I am your very humble,

James Dooner


Commercial Papers N 32 (1889), 'Correspondence respective Emigration to the Argentine Republic' (London: Harrison and Sons, 1889).


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