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    International Irish Diaspora Congress: Buenos Aires 15-19 June 2011

    Friday, September 10th, 2010

    The call for papers below came through on the Irish Diaspora Listserv. How exciting that the 90th anniversary of the Irish Race Congress in Buenos Aires will be commemorated in this way! That Congress was held in preparation for the International Congress of the Irish Race in Paris, and the Irish government sent envoys to Irish communities in South Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and the US seeking support for a Republic. [See a 1921 New York Times report on the Buenos Aires Congress.]

    It  was just one example of Ireland’s political globalisation in the early days of independence. As the originator of the idea of the Congress of the Irish Race, Thomas Hughes Kelly of New York, declared: ‘Ireland’s future is not limited to its geographic boundaries. She gave away to the world her strongest and most trustworthy sons. Now we compensate her with our support, which is the first offspring of that prolific seed’.

    But I digress – below is the call for papers. I’ll post up more info when I find out more.


    Buenos Aires (Argentina) — From 15th to 19th of June 2011.

    Official Notification: Presentation of Papers- 1st Call

    In June of 2011, the 1st International Irish Diaspora Congress will take
    in the City of Buenos Aires, exactly 90 years after a meeting of a
    similar nature took place in 1921. The principal objective of next
    year’s Congress is to stimulate cultural exchange and share experiences
    between Irish Associations and people.

    Each participating Institution is asked to give a brief account of
    current activities and its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and
    threats. Learning how the Irish Community has integrated into each
    specific Country-Destination will be of general interest, too.
    Participating individuals or Associations are invited to present
    speeches and/or lectures on the topic of cultural diversity of emigrants
    and their descendents.

    The Department of Irish Culture from the Universidad Nacional de La
    Plata (UNL) & the Universidad de Ciencias Empresariales y Sociales
    (UCES) will provide the academic framework for these expositions. The
    papers submitted for consideration must relate to any one of the
    following topics:

    – The Irish Diaspora
    – Literature and the Irish Emigrant (essays, short stories, novels, poetry)
    – History of Irish Emigration in each country
    – Fundraising for Irish Associations (experiences, tips)
    – Irish Education abroad
    – Irish Dance & Music (experiences)
    – Business and Work opportunities for Irish Descendents Abroad

    Those who are interested in participating must submit an abstract before
    February 1, 2011, written in English, of no more than 300 words, on any
    of the aforementioned topics.

    The proposals that are deemed adequate (given general interests and the
    length of the Congress) have until May 15, 2011 to send the paper in
    full to the Department’s inbox.

    The Academic Committee will be comprised of people with great knowledge
    on the subjects to be discussed, including professors from the UNL and
    the UCES.

    For more info: or

    “Prairies or pampas?”: article explains why emigrants no longer ask

    Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

    Argentina was once a powerful draw for Irish emigrants, although it is difficult to imagine given the country’s economic troubles today. How did it go from being an economic powerhouse to its current status today? Alan Beattie in the Financial Times documents the decline in a comparison of the policies pursued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the  United States and Argentina.

    As he points out,

    “Before the Great Depression of the 1930s, Argentina was among the 10 richest countries in the world. The millions of emigrant Italians and Irish fleeing poverty at the end of the 19th century were torn between the two: Buenos Aires or New York? The pampas or the prairie?

    A hundred years later there was no choice at all. One had gone on to be among the most successful economies ever. The other was a broken husk.”

    Beattie points out that America chose openness, innovation, skilled immigration and industrialisation – while Argentina concentrated land and political power in the hands of an elite who shunned the risk-taking nature of industrialisation until it was too late.

    The article is worth reading for anyone interested in the history of the home of the largest non-English-speaking Irish diaspora community. Argentina: The superpower that never was

    Midlands-Argentine project launches GAA programme

    Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

    Hundreds of Argentine children will learn Gaelic games this February in a seven-day programme at the Hurling Club in Buenos Aires, thanks to an initiative originating out the Midlands. The move is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at refreshing Ireland’s links with its fifth-largest diaspora community.

    The inaugural GAA hurling and Gaelic football coaching week is a joint effort supported by Capital Securities Corporation, the Midlands Gateway Chamber and the Longford-Westmeath Argentina Society, reports the Westmeath Examiner. The GAA is supplying hurls, helmets and footballs to the 240 children aged six to 16 who will participate.

    The week will take place at Buenos Aires’ Hurling Club, which was established in 1922. GAA games were popular among the Irish community in the early part of the twentieth century, but were eventually replaced by hockey and rugby; this move is partially explained by the fact that during World War II it became impossible to get hurleys in Argentina.

    Organisers of the project have wider ambitions than encouraging children to play the games of their ancestors. The article notes:

    President of AIT and President of the Midlands Gateway Chamber, Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin said the launching of the coaching programme in Argentina was not only a significant sporting event, but had resonance for business, education, cultural and diplomatic relations between Ireland and Latin America.

    “At a time of great economic uncertainty, it is heartening that this initiative encourages us to look beyond our own boundaries to explore global possibilities,? he said.

    “For us, the GAA coaching programme signifies the potential of the Midlands, the creative spirit, the drive to innovate and the desire to succeed that is the bedrock of this region,? said Prof Ó Catháin.

    The project was launched by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan, who reinforced the project’s wider ambitions when she said:

    Though in its origin independent of it, this project fits in perfectly with the intention behind the joint scheme between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the GAA decided earlier this year to support the promotion of Gaelic games abroad.

    I am delighted to be present at the launch here in Athlone of this exciting initiative and congratulate all involved in seeing it through from the initial concept to actuality. A winning combination between enterprise and culture, which hopefully will lead to many other fruitful connections between Ireland and Argentina and between The Midlands Gateway Chamber area and Buenos Aires, and between individual Irish and Argentines.

    Related sites:

    Argentine navy to honor Irish founder with visit

    Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

    The Argentine navy’s tall ship, the Libertad, will visit Ireland in June as part of the celebrations commemorating the 150th anniversary of the death of Admiral William Brown. The crew will visit Foxford, Co. Mayo, the birthplace of the founder of the Argentine navy, during their ten-day visit to Ireland.

    The ship will conduct a salute off the Mayo coast around June 17, according to the Western People. It will then dock in Galway, Dublin and Cork.

    The Admiral William Brown Society is planning a number of commemorative events marking the anniversary. Admiral Brown was born in Foxford in 1777; after emigrating to Argentina he fought in several wars and eventually founded their navy. He is celebrated as a hero in Argentina and this year’s events are likely to raise his profile in Ireland.

    The full story is on the Western People website.

    Three Irish-Argentine community organisations have…

    Friday, August 11th, 2006

    Three Irish-Argentine community organisations have been granted funding by the Department of Foreign Affairs; this is the first time that Argentine community groups have received funding. In making the announcement, Minister Noel Treacy said, “The descendants of the men and women who left Galway, Mayo, Westmeath, Longford, Wexford, and other parts of Ireland and settled in Argentina are also distinguished by the fact that they form the largest community of Irish descent outside of English-speaking countries.? He added that next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the death of Mayo-born founder of the Argentine Navy, Admiral Browne.
    The funding went to:

    • Spanish-language newspaper The Southern Cross, which was founded by the Irish-Argentine community in 1875; the €12,000 in funding will be used for new equipment and for preservation of early editions.
    • The Fahy Club, named after a Galway-born priest Anthony Dominic Fahy, has received a grant of €15,000; they will use the money to update its facilities.
    • The Federation of Irish-Argentine Associations has received €15,000 to support an Executive Secretary post.

    There is substantial information on the Irish in Argentina at