Station at St. Patrick's Chapel of Santa Lucía in the 1890s

Declarado de Interés Municipal
Municipalidad de San Pedro

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day in San Pedro, the local Irish-Argentine Centre organised an exhibition of old photographs (Fotografías de viejas familias irlandesas), including images of Irish settlers and their families in the region. On 25-27 March 2005 hundreds of visitors went to appreciate the eighty-odd collection of photographs in the municipal rooms of Centro de Comercio e Industria at San Pedro. A new series of photographs has been added in March 2006.



Por estas callejuelas
ancestros invisibles
caminan con nosotros.

Homero Aridjis
(Mexico, 1975)

San Pedro is a town and department in Buenos Aires province, 180 kilometres north of Buenos Aires, on the bank of the River Paraná. In the nineteenth century San Pedro was among the ten most important Irish settlements in Argentina, with immigrants from counties Westmeath, Offaly, Wexford and Clare. The Handbook of the River Plate of 1892 describes San Pedro in the line of the Buenos Ayres and Rosario Railway Co. 'Population 6,000, dates back to the year 1770; it is a thriving port of the Paraná, and has a resident Irish priest. Two wayside stations are passed, Castro and Paraiso, in a good sheepfarming district; then two others, Ramallo and Sanchez, the lands here being some of the best in the province' (Mulhall, M.G. and E.T., Handbook of the River Plate, comprising the Argentine Republic, Uruguay and Paraguay' Sixth edition, Buenos Aires, 1892, pp. 78-79).

By the end of the nineteenth century, some of the families present in San Pedro were Austin, Bannon, Barry, Brennan, Cardiff, Carmody, Carthy, Casey, Cleary, Connell, Cormick, Crowley, Cummins, Dalton, Delaney, Devereux, Dillon, Dinnegan, Doran, Doyle, Duffy, Duggan, Gill, Harrington, Hoare, Howlin, McCormack, MacDonnell, McGuire, McInerny, MacManus, MacNamara, Murphy, Nally, O'Dwyer, O'Neill, O'Reirdon, Quinn, Rath, Reynolds, Robbins, Rooney, Shanahan, Slevin, Stafford, Sullivan, Tumulty, Walsh, Wheelahan, Wheeler, York, Young, and others (1895 census returns in Table IV of Eduardo Coghlan's El Aporte de los Irlandeses a la Formación de la Nación Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1982). Fr. Edmund Flannery was both the Irish Chaplain and a local estanciero, as well as a strong supporter of Republicanism in Ireland.

According to Thomas Murray, who published The Story of the Irish in Argentina in 1919, 'San Pedro being a river port, at one time of great importance, is one of the old towns of the Province. In the latter Twenties [1820s] I find a few Irish names amongst those who sought passports to the district, but it was not until about '55 that Irish sheep-farmers reached the place, and then not in large numbers. By the year Sixty, however, a good number of our people had established themselves there and soon purchased large estancias. The first subscriber towards the O'Connell Monument Fund came from this district, in '63.'


Cadastral Map of San Pedro (partial). Estudio Edelberg (1922).

'The district was included in Fr. Michael Leahy's Chaplaincy of Carmen de Areco' continues Thomas Murray, 'until the coming of Father Edmund Flannery in 1869. About twenty miles, westward, in the open camp, in the year 1875, Father Flannery commenced building his church. The place was then the center of a populous Irish district, and lay from fifteen to twenty miles from the nearest church or chapel. Such an edifice was a deeply felt want, indeed, as the response of those concerned, to the appeal of their pastor, in the matter, proclaims as decisively as it does their generosity and piety. The Church and priest's house were completed and opened to service in 1876. A press report of the inauguration of the new Chapel had this to say: "The chapel and priest's house built by the parishioners of Father Flannery surpass anything of the kind we have seen in this country. The new buildings are situated on very high ground; the steeple of the church is visible at a distance of seven leagues. The worthy pastor deserves the highest praise for his exertions to establish a permanent Irish mission in San Pedro by building there an Irish Church with a residence for a priest attached. The disinterestedness of Father Flannery is well known to his flock; hence their willingness to assist him. The church is a handsome building with a handsome spire. The priest's residence is a well-built brick house of five rooms. The land was generously given by Mr. John Harrington, who also gave a handsome donation towards the erection of the church, heading the list with $10,000 m/c. The building cost £2,000 sterling; there is yet a deficit of £500 sterling, but it will be paid off. The Irish were well represented at the ceremony. There were the Harringtons, Mooneys, Austins, Kennedys', Doyles, Youngs, McDonnells, Owens, Newmans, Martins, Griffins, Keoghs, Eustaces, Quinns, Flahertys, Walls, Cullens, Kearneys, Roches, Wheelers, Cummins, Riardons, Nallys, Cloughisseys, Cavanaghs, Hogans, Brownes, Daltons, Kennys, Wades, Streets, Caseys, Brennans and a host of others. Wexford, Longford and Westmeath were well represented." The writer should have said that Clare was also well represented. Soon after the opening Father Flannery published the following statement: "All the neighboring Irish people and many natives have subscribed liberally. The accounts stand thus: Cost of Church, $261,402; amount subscribed, $195,846; balance due, $65,556." The building is eighty feet long, twenty-six feet wide and thirty feet in height; it has a tower fifty feet high. Archdeacon Dillon performed the ceremony of consecration' (Murray, Thomas. The Story of the Irish in Argentina (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1919), pp. 259-261).

Acknowledgements: We are thankful to Roberto Young, Laura McNally de Bolla, Julia McInerny de Domenicone, Elsa Beatriz Young and other members of the Centro Argentino Irlandés de San Pedro for their generosity to share these photographs with us.

Copyright 2005 © Society for Irish Latin American Studies

Last Update: May 2006

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