South America, although comparatively little known until recent times to the outside world, contains much to interest the missionary, the scientist, the historian, the traveler, and the financier. The twentieth century will probably see hundreds following in the footsteps of their predecessors. In the meantime, the brilliant achievements of numerous Irish men and women in that part of the world are falling into oblivion, and call for a friendly hand to collect the fragments of historical lore connected with their exploits.
This paper will cover three periods:-
(1) From the Spanish Conquest to the War of Independence:
here the principal actors were maritime explorers, buccaneers, and mercantile adventurers;
(2) The War of Independence from 1810 to 1826:
in this period Irishmen performed feats of valor worthy to rank with those in Greek or Roman history.
(3) Since the Independence;
a period of commercial and industrial development, in which Irishmen have played a foremost part.
It has been said that George Barlow, the companion of Sebastian Cabot, was an Irishman. Cabot was the first Britisher to sail up the Rio de la Plata, and gave it its name just thirty-five years after the discovery of America. Barlow was in the service of the king of Spain, and in that country met Cabot, who had been appointed Pilot Major to his Majesty in the year 1518. In 1577 we read of the famous Admiral Drake's expedition to the River Plate, which he reached on April 14, 1578. Evidently it was a successful one in the opinion of Queen Elizabeth, for on Drake's return to Plymouth, September 26, 1580, she came aboard his ship and knighted him. There seem to have been three Irishmen on this expedition, Fenton, Merrick, and Ward. Fenton, who was in command of two vessels, was attacked by a Spanish squadron between Brazil and the River Plate, and the battle continued by moonlight until one of the Spaniards was sunk. The Spanish historian adds that Fenton might have sunk another of the enemy's ships, but refrained because there were several women on board.
Lozana in his History mentions a revolution in Paraguay in 1555, which was headed by an Irishman named Nicholas Colman. This revolution was quickly suppressed by the Spanish viceroy, Yrala, but Colman led a second revolution in 1570, when Captain Rigueline was governor of Guayra. The mutineers named Colman for their chief, put their treasures into canoes, and floated down the Parana until their boats were capsized by some rapids, probably the falls of Apipe in Misiones. The viceroy, on hearing of the revolt, sent troops to bring back the fugitives, and the latter were treated with unusual clemency. Lozana describes Colman as a daring, turbulent buccaneer. For fifteen years he seems to have played an important part in Guayra; his subsequent fate is unknown.
In 1626 an expedition commanded by James Purcell, an Irishman, established itself on the island of Tocujos, in the mouth of the Amazon. Captain Charles O'Hara was sent by Governor Arana from Montevideo in March, 1761, to destroy the old landmarks of Rio Negro and Ching between the dominions of Portugal and Spain. The officer next under him was Lieutenant Charles Murphy, afterwards governor of Paraguay. This expedition suffered great hardships. Several of the expeditions of the privateers of the eighteenth century sailed from Ireland. Dampier, a skilful navigator, went on a cruise to intercept the Spanish galleons returning from the River Plate with booty supposed to be worth £600,000 sterling. He sailed from Kinsale in September, 1703, with two vessels, and no doubt amongst the crews were many Irishmen. It was on this expedition that Alexander Selkirk, a Scotch sailor, was put on shore at Juan Fernandez in 1704, where he remained until rescued by Captain Rogers, who commanded the Duke, a vessel of 320 tons, which sailed from Cork on September 1, 1708, touched by chance at Juan Fernandez, and found the original of Defoe's remarkable story, Robinson Crusoe, who presented a wild appearance dressed in his goatskins.
In 1765 Captain Macnamara, with two vessels called the Lord Clive and the Ambuscade, mounting between them 104 guns, attempted to take Colonia, in front of Buenos Ayres, from the Spaniards. Having shelled the place for four hours, Macnamara expected every moment to see a white flag hoisted, when, by some mishap, the Lord Clive took fire, and 262 persons perished. The Spaniards fired upon the poor fellows in the water, only 78 escaping to land. Macnamara was seen to sink. His sword was found a few years ago by a Colonia fisherman, who presented it to the British consul at Montevideo. Most of the Irish names still extant in the Argentine provinces, such as Sarsfield, Carrol, and Butler, are probably derived from these captives. Among the descendants of the survivors of Macnamara's expedition may be mentioned the ablest lawyer ever known in Buenos Ayres and for many years Prime Minister, the late Dr. Velez Sarsfield, and also Governor O'Neill.
The year 1586 saw an expedition of a very different character, consisting of the first Jesuits sent to convert Paraguay, under the direction of Father Thomas Field, an Irishman, and son of a Limerick doctor. Their vessel fell into the hands of English privateers off the Brazilian coast, but the sea rovers respected their captives, and after sundry adventures the latter landed at Buenos Ayres, whence they proceeded over land to Cordoba. The year following they set out for Paraguay, where Father Field and his companions laid the foundation of the Jesuit commonwealth of Misiones, which had such wonderful development in the following two centuries as to cause Voltaire to admit that "the Jesuit establishment in Paraguay seems to be the triumph of humanity."
Another Irish Jesuit, Father Thaddeus Ennis, appears in authority in Misiones shortly before the downfall. In 1756, when Spain ceded San Miguel and other missions to Portugal, Father Ennis was entrusted with the removal lower down to Parana of such tribes as refused to become Portuguese subjects.
Yet another Jesuit, Father Falkiner, son of an Irish Protestant doctor in Manchester, who had himself studied medicine, was one of the most successful travellers and missionaries of the 18th century. Among his friends in London was a ship-captain who traded from the coast of Guinea to Brazil, carrying slaves for the company recently established by Queen Anne's patent, and he it doubtless was who prevailed on the young physician to try a seafaring life. In one of his voyages as ship surgeon, from Guinea to Buenos Ayres, he fell ill at the latter port, and, there being no hotels, he had the good fortune to enjoy the hospitality of the Jesuit superior, Father Mahony, whose name proclaims his Irish nationality. Such was the impression made on Falkiner by the kindness of the Jesuits that he shortly afterwards was received into the Church and entered as a novice in the College of St. Ignatius at Buenos Ayres. He spent the first years of his missionary career in Misiones and Tucuman. Later on he was despatched by his superior to Patagonia, and his success there during 27 years was almost equal to what has already been mentioned of Father Field in Paraguay. He converted many tribes, and traversed nearly every part of Patagonia from Rio Negro to Magellan's Straits, and as far inland as the Andes. He knew most of the Indian tongues, and by his winning manners and knowledge of medicine gained a great influence over the savages. When he published his life and travels, such was the effect of his book upon the king of Spain that he at once ordered surveys and settlements to be made along the Patagonian coast, which Father Falkiner represented as exposed to seizure by the first adventurer who should land there. Father Falkiner's book has been translated into French, German, and Spanish. He returned to England and died at Spetchly, Worcestershire, near the end of the 18th century.
In 1774 the bishop of Ayachucho was Dr. James O'Phelan, who rebuilt the old Cathedral of Pasco. His father was an Irish officer in the Spanish army.
Towards the close of the 18th century the Pitt administration lent a willing ear to a Venezuelan patriot, General Miranda, who proposed that Great Britain should aid South America to expel the Spanish rulers and set up a number of independent states. Spain being the ally of France and paying an annual subsidy to Napoleon, it became moreover the object of England to seize the treasure-ships periodically arriving from the River Plate.
Hostilities having broken out in Europe in 1803, an English squadron under an Irish commander, Captain Moore, captured in the following year some Spanish galleons laden with treasure at the mouth of the River Plate. In June, 1806, Major General William Carr Beresford with a British squadron cast anchor about twelve miles from Buenos Ayres, and with a force of only 1635 men took possession of that city of 60,000 inhabitants. The indignation which such a humiliation at first caused among the people was in large measure calmed by the manifesto which the conquering commander issued on the occasion. In the Memoirs of General Belgrano we read: "It grieved me to see my country subjugated in this manner, but I shall always admire the gallantry of the brave and honorable Beresford in so daring an enterprise." Beresford was, however, unable to hold his ground, for the Spaniards got together an army of 10,000 men, and re-took the city. Beresford was made prisoner, but after five months' detention he and his brother-officers, among whom was another Irishman, Major Fahy, managed to escape.
Thus ended the expedition of this brave general, who nevertheless had covered himself and his little army with glory, for he held Buenos Ayres as a British colony for 45 days, and had he been properly supported from home the result would in all probability have been vastly different.
General Beresford was one of the most distinguished men of his time. He was the illegitimate son of the Marquis of Waterford, entered the army at 16, and served in every quarter of the globe. After his defeat at Buenos Ayres he captured Madeira, and was made governor of that island. In 1808 he successfully covered the retreat of Sir John Moore to Corunna, a difficult feat, for which he received a marshal's baton, and was made commander-in-chief in Portugal. In 1811 he defeated Marshal Soult at Albuera, and subsequently took part in the victories of Salamanca and Vittoria. For these services he was made Duke of Elvas, and the British government conferred on him in 1814 the title of Baron Beresford of Albuera and Dungannon. The same year he was sent as minister to Brazil, and on his return was created viscount. He married the widow of Thomas Hope the banker, and settled down on his estates in Kent, where he died in 1854.
The brilliancy of Beresford's achievement in capturing Buenos Ayres with a handful of men had dazzled the minds of English statesmen, who felt that 10,000 British troops were enough to subdue the whole of the vast continent of South America. In May, 1807, an expedition comprising several frigates and transports with 5,000 troops appeared off Montevideo from England. A month later Lieutenant-General Whitelock arrived with orders to assume the chief command, and among his officers were the gallant Irishmen, Major Vandeleur, who commanded a wing of the 88th Regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Nugent, of the 38th. Whitelock endeavored, but failed, to retake Buenos Ayres. During the siege a small detachment of Spanish troops under Colonel James Butler, after a terrific conflict, in which they sold their lives dearly, were all killed. Agreeably to Colonel Butler's request his remains were buried on the spot he had so valiantly defended, and his tombstone was visible there until 1818. It is a remarkable fact that several of the South American countries, Mexico, Peru, and Chile, were governed by viceroys of Irish birth in the critical period preceding the Independence, although Spanish law forbade such office to any but Spaniards born. It was in recognition of gallant services in Spain, in combination with the Duke of Wellington, that General O'Donoghue was made viceroy of Mexico in 1821, but the elevation of the great viceroy of Peru, Ambrose O'Higgins, was due to the splendid talents of administration already displayed by him during twenty years of service in Chile. He was born at Summerhill, Co. Meath, about 1730. An uncle of his was one of the chaplains at the court of Madrid, and at his expense O'Higgins was educated at a college in Cadiz. He then entered the Spanish engineer corps, and in 1769 was given the command of the commission sent to Chile to strengthen the fortifications of Valdivia. He was made captain-general of Chile in 1788, was subsequently created marquis of Osorno, and in 1796 was nominated viceroy of Peru, a position which he held until his death in 1801.
The great viceroy left only one son, Bernard O'Higgins, who succeeded General Carreras in the supreme command of the patriot army against the Spaniards in 1813. In 1817 O'Higgins took a principal part in the victory of Chacabuco, and was almost immediately appointed supreme director of Chile, with dictatorial powers. During his administration, which lasted six years, he gave every proof of his fitness for the position. But, alas! it was the misfortune of South America to surpass the republics of antiquity in the ingratitude shown towards its greatest benefactors. It is then not surprising to find that the Father of his Country, as O'Higgins is affectionately styled, was deposed by a military revolution, and obliged to take refuge in Peru, from which country he never returned. General Miller and Lord Cochrane, in their Memoirs, give frequent testimony to the honesty and zeal of Bernard O'Higgins. He was always treated as an honored guest in Lima, in which city he died on October 24, 1842. He left a son, Demetrio O'Higgins, a wealthy land-owner, who contributed large sums for the patriot army against Spain.
Among other Irish commanders in Chile and Peru, who, during the War of Independence, fought their way to dignity and rank, was General MacKenna, the hero of Membrillar. He was born in 1771, at Clogher, Co. Tyrone; his mother belonged to the ancient Irish sept of O'Reilly, whose estates were confiscated after the fall of Limerick in 1691.
General Thomond O'Brien, who won his spurs at the battle of Chacabuco, seems to have been born in the south of Ireland about 1790. He joined the army of San Martin, and accompanied that general through the campaigns of Chile and Peru until the overthrow of the Spanish régime and the proclamation of San Martin as protector of Peru. On the day (July 28, 1821) when independence was declared at Lima, the protector took in his hand the standard of Pizarro and said, "This is my portion of the trophies." Then, taking the state canopy of Pizarro, a kind of umbrella always borne over the viceroys in processions, he presented it to General O'Brien, saying, "This is for the gallant comrade who fought so many years by my side in the cause of South America." The inscription on the canopy, in O'Brien's hand, says that it was brought to Peru on Pizarro's second journey from Spain. Little did the viceroys think that its last owner would be an Irishman.
General O'Connor, one of the most distinguished soldiers of the War of Independence, played an important part in the final victory of Ayachucho. For his gallantry on that day he was promoted to the rank of general by the commander-in-chief, General Bolivar. After the War of Independence he became Minister of War in Bolivia. General O'Connor went to South America as an ensign in the Irish Legion under General Devereux. He claimed direct descent from Roderic O'Conor, last king of Ireland, 1186.
Captain Esmonde also fought in the War of Independence. He was brother to the then baronet, Sir Thomas Esmonde, of Co. Wexford. In later years Captain Esmonde was employed by the Peruvian government to report on some proposed canals at Tarapaca. The vessel in which he embarked was never more heard of.
Colonel Charles O'Carroll had served in Spain, but joined the Chilian army after independence was gained. He was one of the most popular officers in the army, and met with a sad fate. Being sent with too small a detachment against the savage Indians, their commander, Benavides, cut his forces in pieces and murdered all the officers in a most cruel manner. O'Carroll had his tongue cut out and was then butchered.
Lieutenant Colonel Moran, who commanded the Colombian legion at the battle of Ayachucho, probably came out in the legion of General Devereux.
Colonel (afterwards General) O'Leary was first aide-de-camp to General Bolivar, the Liberator, and received his last breath. He was nephew to the famous Father Arthur O'Leary. Bolivar employed him on various missions of great trust and says "he acquitted himself with great ability." After the war, General O'Leary was appointed British chargé d'affaires at Bogota, and died in Rome in 1868.
General Arthur Sandes, a native of Dublin, was entrusted with an important garrison in Peru on the close of the War of Independence.
Admiral Brown, the distinguished commander and hero of the War of Independence, whose exploits may be ranked, like those of Nelson, "above all Greek, above all Roman fame," was born at Foxford, Co. Mayo, Ireland, on the 22nd of June, 1777. His father emigrated with his family to Pennsylvania. A ship captain who was about to sail from Philadelphia offered to take the intelligent Irish boy with him, and the offer was promptly accepted. During twenty years he seems to have voyaged to many countries; at one time we find him at Archangel. Brown had been in Buenos Ayres just two years when the patriot government offered him command of a squadron to commence hostilities against the Spanish navy, then mistress of all the coasts and waters of South America. On the memorable 8th of March, 1814, Brown sailed out of the port of Buenos Ayres with three ships to commence a campaign, which was destined to destroy the Spanish navy in this part of the waters of the New World. With him went his fellow-countrymen, Captains Seaver and Kearney.
Brown's next exploits were against Spanish shipping in the Pacific, and his entirely successful campaign at sea against Brazil, in which he gained the mastery by his wonderful skill, courage, and perseverance, keeping at bay the great naval power of that country (which consisted at one time of fifty war vessels) with his few, small, ill-supplied, and ill-armed craft. After these great exploits Brown spent some months among the wild scenery of Mayo, so dear to him in boyhood, and, returning to Buenos Ayres, devoted himself to the quiet life of a country gentleman. He died surrounded by his family and friends on May 3, 1857, and the day of his funeral was one of national mourning. His widow erected a monument to his memory in the Recoleta cemetery, and in 1872 the municipality of Buenos Ayres granted a site for a public statue on the Pasco Julio, which so often rang with the plaudits of the people as they welcomed this great Irishman returning from victory.
No brighter pages occur in the history of the New World than those which commemorate the gallantry and self-devotion of the Irish soldiers who aided South Americans to throw off the yoke of Spain. In 1819 an Irish Legion of 1729 men arrived under the command of General Devereux, a Wexford landowner, called the Lafayette of South America, to fight in the campaign of General Bolivar. Devereux was distinguished for his great bravery. After the War of Independence he returned to Europe, being commissioned to form a company for mining operations in Colombia, which country had appointed him envoy extraordinary to various European courts.
Colonel Ferguson and Captain Talbot were both Irishmen and among the last survivors of Devereux's Legion. It is computed that one-third of the Irish who came out under General Devereux died in hospital. It was this legion which won the decisive battle of Carabobo, June 26, 1821, going into action 1100 strong and leaving 600 on that hard-fought field. Among the officers who composed Bolivar's Albion Rifles we find the Irish names of Pigott, Tallon, Peacock, Phelan, O'Connell, McNamara, Fetherstonhaugh, French, Reynolds, Byrne, and Haig, and the medical officer was Dr. O'Reilly. We find mention in General Millar's Memoirs of Dr. Moore, an Irishman, who attended Bolivar in most of his campaigns and was devotedly attached to the person of the Liberator. Lieutenant-Colonel Hughes, Major Maurice Hogan, Lieutenant William Keogh, Captain Laurence McGuire, Lieutenant-Colonel S. Collins also served in the struggle for independence.
The period of independence found a small number of Irish residents in Buenos Ayres, mostly patrician families, such as Dillon, MacMurrough, Murphy, French, O'Gorman, Orr, Butler, O'Shee, who had been exiled or had fled from Ireland and obtained the king of Spain's permission to settle in Spanish America. The descendants of these families are now so intermarried in the country that they have mostly forgotten the language and traditions of their ancestors; but they occupy high positions in political, legal, and commercial circles.
A remarkable influx of settlers from Ireland occurred between 1825 and 1830, to work in the saladeros, or salt mines, of the Irish merchants, Brown, Dowdall, and Armstrong. Previous to this a few Irish mechanics and others had come from the United States. In 1813 Bernard Kiernan came from New Brunswick. He seems to have devoted himself to science, as the papers mention his discovery of a comet in the Magellan clouds on March 19, 1830. His son, James Kiernan, became editor of the government paper, Gaceta Mercantil, in 1823, and held this post for twenty years; his death occurred in 1857. There is reason to believe that the first Irishman who landed in Buenos Ayres in the 19th century, exclusive of Beresford's soldiers, was James Coyle, a native of Tyrone, who came in the Agréable in 1807, and died in 1876 at the age of 86.
In 1830 some survivors of an Irish colony of 300 persons in Brazil made their way to Buenos Ayres. They had come out from Europe in the barque Reward in 1829.
The banker, Thomas Armstrong, who arrived in Buenos Ayres in 1817, occupied the foremost place for half a century in the commerce of that city. He was of the ancient family of Armstrong in the King's county, one of whose members was General Sir John Armstrong, founder of Woolwich arsenal. Having married into the wealthy family of Villanueva he became intimately connected with all the leading enterprises of the day, such as railways, banks, loans, etc. He took no part in politics, but interested himself in charities of every kind.
In 1865 another Irishman, James P. Cahill, introduced into Peru from the United States the first complete machinery for sugar growing and refining.
Still another Irishman, Peter Sheridan, was one of the chief founders of the sheep farming industry in Argentina. His family claimed descent from the same stock in Co. Cavan as Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the great statesman and dramatist. Sheridan died at the age of 52, in 1844, and was succeeded in the estancia or sheep-farming business by his nephew, James, whose brother Dr. Hugh Sheridan had served under Admiral Brown.
The number and wealth of the Irish estancieros, or sheep-farmers, in Argentina have never been exactly ascertained, but after the old Spanish families they are the most important. It would be impossible to give all the Irish names to be met with. Some of them own immense tracts of land. Men whose fathers arrived in Argentina without a shilling are today worth millions. Their estancia houses display all the comforts of an American or English home; their hospitality is proverbial; and most of them have built on their land fine schools and beautiful little chapels, in which the nearest Irish priest officiates.
Many of the partidos or districts of the various provinces of Argentina may be compared to Irish counties, the railway stations being called after the owners of the land on which they are situated. Among the earliest families settled in Argentina in the farming industries, we find Duggans, Torneys, Harringtons, O'Briens, Dowlings, Gaynors, Murphys, Moores, Dillons, O'Rorkes, Kennys, Raths, Caseys, Norrises, O'Farrells, Brownes, Hams, Duffys, Ballestys, Gahans, and Garaghans.
Dr. Santiago O'Farrell, son of one of the earliest Irish pioneers, holds a foremost position among the distinguished lawyers of the present day. An Irish engineer, Mr. John Coghlan, gave Buenos Ayres its first waterworks. The British hospital has at present for its leading surgeon a distinguished Irishman, Dr. Luke O'Connor. A son of Peter Sheridan, educated in England, has left the finest landscapes of South America by any artist born in America. He died at Buenos Ayres in his 27th year, 1861. Among the public men of Irish descent, fifty years ago, in Buenos Ayres, are to be mentioned the distinguished lawyer and politician, Dalmacio Velez Sarsfield, and John Dillon, commissioner of immigration. Dillon was the first to start a brewery in Buenos Ayres, for which purpose he brought out workmen and machinery from Europe. All of his sons occupied distinguished positions. Richard O'Shee, president of the Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Ayres, was born at Seville of an old Irish family banished by William III. Among the many valuable citizens of Buenos Ayres who perished during the cholera of 1868 was Dr. Leslie, a native of Cavan, whose benevolence to the poor was unceasing. Henry O'Gorman, for some years chief of police in Buenos Ayres and afterwards governor of the penitentiary, was descended from an Irish family which went to Buenos Ayres in the eighteenth century. His brother, Canon O'Gorman, was one of the dignitaries of the archdiocese, and director of the boys' reformatory. General Donovan, son of an Irish Dr. Donovan of Buenos Ayres, had command of one of the sections of the new Indian frontier.
The first Irish chaplain was Father Burke, a venerable friar mentioned by Mr. Love in 1820 as over 70 years of age and much esteemed. When Rivadavia suppressed the Orders in 1822, he allowed Father Burke to remain in the convent of Santo Domingo. After his death the Irish residents, in 1828, petitioned Archbishop Murray of Dublin for a chaplain. Accordingly the Rev. Patrick Moran was selected, and he arrived in Buenos Ayres in 1829. He died in the following year, and was succeeded by the Rev. Patrick O'Gorman from Dublin, who continued as chaplain during 16 years till his death in 1847.
The year 1843 is memorable for the arrival of Rev. Anthony Fahy, with whose name the advancement of the Irish in Argentina will be forever identified. This great patriarch was born at Loughrea, Co. Galway, in 1804, and made his ecclesiastical studies at St. Clement's convent of Irish Dominicans at Rome. Being sent to the western states of America, he passed ten years in Ohio and Kentucky, after which, on the invitation of the Irish community of Buenos Ayres and by permission of the superior of his Order, he came to the river Plate at a time when the prospects of the country and of the Irish residents were far from promising. The history of the Irish community since that time is in some measure a recital of the labors of Father Fahy. He it was who helped his countrymen to choose and buy their lands which now are of such enormous value. Their increasing numbers and prosperity in the camp districts obliged him to endow each of the provincial partidos was a resident chaplain. Most of these clergymen were educated in Dublin, and soon showed their zeal not merely in religious, but also in social spheres. Irish reading-rooms, libraries, and schools sprang up and laid the foundation for the refined Irish life of the present day in those districts. Among other services, Father Fahy founded the Irish convent, bringing out some Sisters of Mercy under Mrs. Mary Evangelist Fitzpatrick from Dublin, to whom he gave it in charge. Father Fahy died in harness in 1871 of yellow fever; he attended a poor Italian woman and on returning home was at once taken ill. He lasted only three days and expired peacefully, a martyr to his sacred calling. He died so poor that Mr. Armstrong had to discharge for him some small debts, and five others of his countrymen paid his funeral expenses. A fitting memorial of the deceased priest, the Fahy College for Irish orphan boys in Argentina, has been erected in Buenos Ayres, and a magnificent monument of Irish marble, carved in Ireland, also perpetuates his fame. The priests, still living, who were co-workers with Father Fahy and appointed by him to various partidos, are Monsignor Samuel O'Reilly, deservedly beloved by his parishioners, and the Rev. Father Flannery, whose appointment to San Pedro brought a great influx of Irish farmers into that district. Among those who have gone to enjoy their eternal reward are the brothers, Rev. Michael and Rev. John Leahy, both of whom were indefatigable during the yellow fever in Buenos Ayres. Rev. Father Mulleady, Rev. Patrick Lynch, Rev. James Curran, and Monsignor Curley were also among the Irish priests of that time.
The Fahy College is entrusted to the care of the Marist Brothers, who are largely Irish. The community of Holy Cross of the Passionist Fathers, who have as provincial the distinguished North American scholar Father Fidelis Kent Stone, is almost entirely composed of Irish and Irish-Americans. They have several establishments in various provinces of Argentina. Irish priests are to be met with all over the country. In Patagonia and the Chaco we also find a number of Protestant missionaries sent out by the Irish branch of the South American Missionary Society.
Archdeacon Dillon succeeded Father Fahy as Irish chaplain in Buenos Ayres, and, although by birth and education an Irishman, he became one of the principal dignitaries of the archdiocese. He was for some time professor of theology in the ecclesiastical seminary of Buenos Ayres, and accompanied Archbishop Escalada as theologian to the Vatican Council in 1869. He was the founder of the Southern Cross in 1874, the Irish weekly paper which is now so ably edited by the gifted Irishman, Mr. Gerald Foley. The first daily paper to appear in English in South America was the Standard, founded in 1861 by Michael G. Mulhall, the distinguished statistician, and it is still one of the leading papers in the country. In conducting it Michael G. Mulhall was joined by his brother, Edward T. Mulhall, in 1862, and for many years it was continuously under their care. The Standard still remains in the Mulhall family, and has for its editor a cousin of the former editor's, Mr. John Mulhall, who wisely directs its course.
The Argentina, an important paper in Spanish, was founded a few years since by Edward T. Mulhall, Jr., a brilliant son of the late Edward Mulhall of the Standard. The Hyberno-Argentine Review, a new Irish weekly, is edited by another able Irishman, James B. Sheridan. In Rio Janeiro the Anglo-Brasilian Times was founded in 1864 by an Irishman, Mr. Scully, who also wrote an important book on Brazil.
Ireland had also its representatives in South American diplomacy and the making of treaties. As early as 1809 Colonel James Burke was sent by Lord Strangford, British minister at Rio, on a confidential mission to Buenos Ayres to negotiate the establishment of a separate kingdom on the river Plate, with the Princess Charlotte as queen. In 1867 Mr. Gould, an Irishman, British chargé d'affaires, endeavored to mediate between the allies, Brazil and Argentina, and President Lopez of Paraguay, but without success. Stephen H. Sullivan, British chargé d'affaires for Chile, signed the treaty of commerce and navigation between England and Chile on the 10th of May, 1852. He was afterwards appointed British minister at Lima, where he was murdered. The late Chilian ministers to Buenos Ayres and London, William Blest Gana and Albert Blest Gana, were the sons of an Irish Doctor Blest from Sligo, who settled in Chile. In 1859 George Fagan signed a treaty with General Guido for compensation of losses to British subjects during the civil wars after the Independence.
The mining industry had among its pioneers brave sons of Erin. J. O. French went to Buenos Ayres in 1826, and after an arduous mountain journey arrived at the foot of the Cerro Morado, where he found auriferous ores. Chevalier Edmond Temple, an Irish gentleman who had served in Spain in a dragoon regiment, also landed in Buenos Ayres in 1826, and started across the Pampas, then almost uninhabited, until he came to the mountainous country where the Potosi mines were situated. In one of the defiles he lost his favorite horse, and in his book he bids a touching farewell to the friendly steed which had shared with him so many toils and dangers. Temple's successor in the Argentine mining provinces was Major Rickard Seaver, a member of an old Co. Dublin family.
Several books of travel in South America have been published by Irish writers during the last fifty years. MacCann's Travels in the Argentine Provinces, 1846-49, contains much that is valuable concerning the history and manners of the country. Major Rickard Seaver issued in 1863 an interesting narrative of his crossing the Andes. Consul Hutchinson, an Irishman, published in 1864 his book Argentine Gleanings, which was followed by another in 1869 called South American Recollections. Robert Crawford, an Irish engineer, led an expedition from Buenos Ayres in November, 1871, across the Indian Pampas and over the pass of the Planchon in the Andes, to survey an overland route to Chile, and subsequently published an interesting account of his journey. The first book printed and published in English, in South America, was the Handbook of the River Plate, written by Michael G. Mulhall and published by the Standard, in 1861. The same author also published the Rural Code of Buenos Ayres in 1867, and the Handbook of Brazil in 1877. In 1871 he published an account of his travels among the German colonies in Rio Grande do Sul. Twenty years ago the writer of this sketch published Between the Amazon and the Andes and the Story of the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay. These books derive special interest from the fact that she was the first foreign woman ever seen in Cuyaba, the capital of Matto Grosso, whither she accompanied her husband, 2500 miles from either the Atlantic or the Pacific seaboard. They arrived as far as the Diamantina Mountains, beyond Cuyaba, and saw the little rivers which form the sources of the mighty Amazon.
Casting a glance over South America, we see in every country and province evidences of Irish genius employed not only in fighting but in the development of natural resources. To quote Consul Cowper's report to the Foreign Office in London: "The progress of Buenos Ayres is mainly due to the industrious Irish sheep farmers." No other nationality contributed so largely to the export trade of the country. At one time it was shown by the tables of Mr. Duggan and other wool exporters that the quantity of this staple industry yearly sold by Irishmen in Buenos Ayres exceeded that sold by all other nationalities. In later years the Irish sheep farmers in the province of Buenos Ayres have turned their lands into wheat lands, and the great industries of the country, sheep and cattle, have been moved to the outside camps, especially to that wonderful grazing region in the Andine valleys recently visited by Col. Roosevelt and his party. It may be interesting to mention that at the first English races ever held in South America, on November 6, 1826, the principal event, in which ten horses ran, was easily won by an Irish horse with the appropriate name of "Shamrock."
From 'The Glories of Ireland' Edited By Joseph DUNN, Ph.D and P.J. LENNOX. Litt.D., professers at the Catholic University of America 1914