Emmigration from Ireland to Latin American has been happening over centuries. Tomas and Juan Farrel(l) were among the earliest Irish settlers in Argentina, having accompanied the Spanish conquistador, soldier and explorer Pedro de Mendoza, who founded Buenos Aires in 1536.
The military connection continued with many Irishmen, who had been part of colonial armies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, making their mark on South America. Famous names include John Thomond O'Brien (read his bio on The Dictionary of Irish Latin American Biography), William Brown (read his bio on The Dictionary of Irish Latin American Biography) and Bernardo O'Higgins (read his bio on Wikipedia).
However, the Westmeath connection truly grew from the 1830's onwards. William Thomond O'Brien had returned to Ireland to seek sheepherders in 1827/28 and while not successful in that endeavour, he did meet with two men, Mooney and Bookey from Streamstown, who were to lead the rush to the pampas of Argentina.
It is estimated that between 1830s-1870s, 30,000 people emigrated from Ireland to Argentina with 61% of these coming from the Longford, Westmeath Offaly region, and the majority of those, coming from Westmeath.
Today, strong links continue between the Midlands and Argentina.
In recognition of this, Westmeath County Library has developed a collection of resources which may be useful to those who are seeking fuurther information about family or history of the Irish in Argentina.
- Coghlan, Eduardo A. Los Irlandeses en la Argentina: Su Actuación y Descendencia (Buenos Aires, 1987). Irish settlers in Argentina, including their origins in Ireland and their descendants in the River Plate or elsewhere. Entries are arranged alphabetically by male immigrant. Other contents include a chronicle of the Irish in Argentina, sketches of 413 livestock brands owned by Irish-Argentine estancieros, 'La Heráldica Irlandesa' by Félix F. Martín y Herrera, and 182 Irish coats of arms. It includes press clips, photographs, and documents. Published privately, with contributions from the Cultural Relations Committee of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, and from private supporters (list on p. 959).
- Coghlan, Eduardo A. El Aporte de los Irlandeses a la Formación de la Nación Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1982). Table I: passengers arrived in Buenos Aires from 1822 to 1880. Table II: Irish family names in Buenos Aires (city and province) from 1855 Census. Table III: Irish family names in Buenos Aires (city and province) from 1869 Census. Table IV: Irish family names in Argentina from 1895 Census. The last three tables are sorted geographically, but there is an alphabetic index of all Tables elaborated by Miguel A. Mathé Murray (page v). Approximately 32,000 persons are mentioned throughout 645 pages.
- The Southern Cross newspaper (1875-1944) - originally an english language newspaper, which is invaluable for tracking the Irish community in Argentina. Available on microfilm in the Local Studies Department in Mullingar Library- Booking essential
- Find out what is available in Westmeath libraries by searching for the Westmeath Argentinian Connection
The Longford-Westmeath Argentinia Society- contacts and historical background