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Irish Genealogy: Emigration to Argentina

"Pat" Moughty Land Barnacor

Barnacor, Longford,  Ireland

   As mentioned last week, the Moughty name is a rather unusual name and I was surprised to learn early on that one of the concentrations of the name was in Argentina.  According to Wikipedia, Argentina has the fifth largest Irish community in the world.  Emigration to Argentina began in the early 19th century and during the Spanish War for Independence one of the generals fighting with Simon Bolivar was Bernardo O'Higgins.  In the early years, the majority of the emigrants hailed from the midlands of Ireland, Westmeath and Longford.  With lots of land available, the farmers of this area of Ireland who raised cattle and sheep did very well.  Most of the emigrants at this time were the second sons (and later daughters) of farmers with larger leases.  Our Moughtys emigrated later, beginning in the 1870s, but most likely were joining the Duggans who had been there from the 1820s.  Many of the children of the James Moughty I mentioned last week, emigrated between the 1880s and early 1900s.

   In the early years, the Irish maintained their identity, marrying within their own community and continuing to speak English.  Later they assimilated more into the Spanish culture.  I found it interesting to see the families there with their Irish surnames used in conjunction with the Spanish custom of combining the maiden name of the mother, the surname becoming Feeney y Moughty.  Given names were also converted for the generations that followed, but can be connected to the family names in Ireland...Tomas (Thomas), Miguel (Michael), Hugo (Hugh) and Santiago (James).  

   Eduardo Coghlan's book, Los Irlandeses en la Argentina : su actuación y descendencia provides the genealogy of many of Argentina's Irish immigrants, including the Moughtys.  I found this book at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (and a check of WorldCat shows that many universities across the county have copies).  Yes, the book is in Spanish, but like church records, with a little help from the Spanish Word List at, it is not difficult to follow.   There are also a number of websites (many in English) dedicated to the topic of the Irish in Argentina and I have listed these on my Links page.  Because so many of these families have been documented, it is not difficult to make the connections back to Ireland.  

   In 1889, unscrupulous passenger agents promised housing, land, seed and machinery to farm to the poor Irish, filling the ship The City of Dresden with 2,000 Irish immigrants.  When they arrived, there was no housing or work for them.  When word arrived back in Ireland of the horrible conditions the flow of emigration to Argentina dwindled. When I look the the lists of the Irish in Argentina listing their birthplaces, I see many of the townlands and parishes where my family resided both Westmeath and Longford... Ballynacarrigy, Ballymahon, Empor, Moyvore, Mullingar, Shrule.   If you have family from this area, check to see if some of your family ended up in Argentina.

Happy Hunting!

© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2018