The Southern Cross

By Adam Farley, Assistant Editor
June / July 2014

Breard photo

Dr. Guillermo MacLoughlin

An interview with the editor-in-chief, Dr. Guillermo MacLoughlin.

Approaching its 140th anniversary, the Buenos Aires-based newspaper The  Southern Cross is the oldest continuously published periodical of the Irish diaspora. To put it in perspective, the oldest U.S. Irish publication, New York’s Irish Echo, only just turned 84.

Founded January 16, 1875 by Dean Patrick Dillon, a prominent political figure in Buenos Aires who later was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the Province of Buenos Aires, The Southern Cross was conceived of as a Catholic newspaper devoted to preserving Irish identity in the immigrant nation of Argentina. As such, it was published exclusively in English (with some Irish-language lessons occasionally) until 1977, when it switched to a Spanish-language publication, with a few articles published in English each issue.

Dr. Guillermo MacLoughlin, the newspaper’s 14th editor-in-chief, attributes this shift to the relaxation of Irish-Argentine views on mixed marriages, so that by the late ’70s most Irish-Argentines would have had Spanish as their first language. Today, more than half a million Argentineans can trace their heritage to Ireland, Dr. MacLoughlin among them.

“On my father’s side I’m all Irish, sixth generation. My MacLoughlin forefathers came from Glascorn, five miles from Mullingar in County Westmeath. And the rest – the Maguires, Phillipses, Kellys, Garrahans – came mainly from the Longford-Westmeath border, but also from Wexford – the Rossiters and Sinnotts. But on my mother’s side I am very mixed. I have Spanish, Italian, French, and a little Irish heritage from her.”

Though he is a public accountant by trade, journalism actually runs in his family. His mother’s Irish connection is to a man who first immigrated to the United States and worked as a reporter before meeting a Spanish woman and relocating to Argentina. This route, MacLoughlin acknowledges, was very uncommon, because most of the Irish who came to Argentina came directly and had to have enough money to afford the journey.

“The Irish who came to Argentina, the majority of them at least, had nothing to do with the Famine. They came because they were looking for better economic conditions. They were the second or third or fourth sons who wouldn’t inherit the farm.”

It might not be surprising then that the oldest diaspora publication was born out of this relatively wealthy and well-educated population. But its success, MacLoughlin posits, is due to its assumption of an entirely Argentine identity and, though it was published in English, its emphasis on the commonality between Argentine culture and Irish culture, specifically with respect to the Catholic faith.

Even though it is a resolutely Argentine publication, MacLoughlin says its mission is larger than just bolstering the vibrancy of the Irish-Argentine community.

“It is our main task to preserve the Irish-Argentine identity here, yes. But we also must publish articles about present-day Ireland, and also to integrate all aspects of the Irish diaspora, so we publish articles about Irish all over the world. We want to share a point of view with Irish in America, Irish in Chile, Irish in Colombia, in Spain, in Australia.”

As far as how that is going, MacLoughlin says very well. Two thousand copies are printed, but the readership is much larger because each paper is shared among members of the family and community. “We estimate that an average of six people read each paper,” MacLoughlin figures. That, combined with the web page and the Facebook page, gives MacLoughlin hope for the future of the publication, especially given the fact that the staff is entirely volunteer-based.

Subscribing to The Southern Cross “is a family tradition,” he says. “There’s an important connection to the Irish people in Argentine society and they [Argentines in general] make a distinction between the Irish and the English. That’s why I think we’ve done so well.”

When asked how the mission of the newspaper has changed in the last 140 years, MacLoughlin hits on the issue of assimilation. “In the past, it was the voice of the Irish in Argentina. There was much more emphasis on Irish identity and independence for Ireland, but now we are focused much more on Argentina. Though many Irish-Argentines would like to see the unity of the island, that is not a main task for this paper to seek that.”

“Now, we are not more Irish. We are Argentine-Irish. We are Argentinean first, but very proud of our Irish origin, so our main task is to preserve that new identity among all the members of our community.”

9 Responses to “The Southern Cross”

  1. Hola,
    Yo eschuce sobre vosotros periodico de la cancion Admiral William Browne. Estoy apprendiendo Espanol ahorra. Vivo en Dublin en Irlanda y tengo muy interasado en la historian de Los irlandeses en Argentina.
    Como puedo leer su periodico de Irlanda?
    Gracias por su assistancia con esto pregunta.
    Feliz a Argentina en el Rugby! Kieran

  2. Lelia Fitzsimons says:

    !Hola! I will be visiting Buenos Aires at the end of March and I’m trying to find out what happened to a great aunt who emigrated to Argentina in 1929 to teach at a girl’s school. We have some letters which she wrote to my grandfather, but when he died in 1943, this correspondence ceased. There’s a record of her travelling to Southampton in 1948, but family sources believe that she returned to Buenos Aires. It’s also assumed that she died in Buenos Aires in the early 1950’s, but we don’t know and previous searches to uncover what happened to her have drawn a blank. I would appreciate any advice about how I could find out what happened to her, especially as i will be in Buenos Aires and have addresses of places that she lived. Are there archives that it would be possible to search…are there any records of private Girl’s schools where she may have taught. Thanks for any help. Go raibh maith agat agus slan

  3. Marion Walsh says:

    Since 2009 I have been trying to discover if my uncle, Freddie (Federico) Dempsey, who was believed to be some sort of editor of a newspaper in Buenos Aires worked with The Southern Cross paper? Freddie was born in Co Cavan, Ireland in 1894 and emigrated to Argentina in March 1930. I have been trying the paper without result. Freddie lived until at least 1965 or perhaps later.
    Marion Walsh
    Dublin, Ireland

  4. Jim Waldron says:

    I was interested to see several requests for information about Irish ancestors who lived in Buenos Aires.I also am trying to trace an ancestor, my grand-aunt Elizabeth Carrick, who was living in Buenos Aires in 1936/37 according to some letters which have survived.
    She left Ireland in 1881 for Australia, married William Searhy Mabbott in Brisbane and they both travelled c.1894 to Paraguay as part of an immigration experiment which became the colony of “New Australia” in that country. Her life after that is somewhat vague-she appears to have lost contact with her family back in Co. Roscommon-but it seems she made her way to Buenos Aires and presumably died there sometime after 1937. She was already 72 years old at that point.
    Her last known address was c/o Mrs. Fraust, Calle Obligado 4835,BA.
    I plan to be in BA for a holiday this Christmas but am trying from Ireland to have as much information compiled on her as possible in the hope that I may be able to find her last resting place. One of the few letters that has survived has the post-mark “Hurlingham” and Google maps show a “Calle Obligado” not that far distant from the town of Hurlingham, Greater Buenos Aires. I think it’s reasonable to assume that she may be interred somewhere in that area.
    Can anyone suggest how a death/burial certificate is got in Buenos Aires? I would hope that this might lead to finding the cemetery in which she is buried, always allowing for the fact that there may be no memorial stone to identify her. It would make a visit to Argentina extra special if I could solve this genealogical puzzle.

  5. George Tuck says:

    I am seeking information on the visit of The Very Reverend Stephen Kealy, Provincial of the Passionist Order. He visited Buenos Aires Oct – Dec 1900.
    Stephen was born Thomas Kealy in Kylenabehy, Queen’s County in Sep 1849, emigrated to the USA in 1868 where he entered the priesthood and was subsequently ordained in 1877. After his election to Provincial in 1899, he undertook a lengthy trip to Ireland, Rome and Argentina. The family is seeking details for sharing at a reunion in the coming year. All assistance is appreciated. Thank you.

  6. Stephen McKenna says:

    Bon dia,

    I’m visiting Buenos Aires next month on the trail of my great uncle, T.P. McKenna who arrived there in 1927.

    He was a veteran of the Irish War of Independence and later a Colonel Commandant in the National Army of the Irish Free State.

    He had emigrated to Argentina on account of his health suffering as he was from TB and while in BA he subsisted his army pension, I believe, with some journalistic work and providing english teaching.

    I have a copy of a poem by him which appeared in The Southern Cross, July 27, 1928.

    Sadly, his condition did not improve and he was advised to move to Catamarca. There the air would have been drier but one imagines the higher altitudes would have taken a further toll on his already stressed lungs.

    Indeed, by early 1929 he was admitted to the Hospital Transita in Cordoba and after a number of weeks he died on the 13th of February, aged just 26 years.

    I have recently discovered that he is buried in the San Vicente cemetery in Cordoba and I hope to visit there on my trip.

    I suspect he may be in an unmarked grave and I have emailed the cemetery administrator to see if they have any record of his burial and where it might be in the cemetery, but no reply so far, unfortunately.

    I would be most grateful if there might be any further information about TP which might have appeared in the pages of The Southern Cross.

    A fuller account of TP’s life appears here: http://tpmckenfamhist.blogspot.com/

    Thank you,

    Stephen McKenna

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