Hi, my name is Gearoid D. P. Clarke, you’ve probably never heard of me before as I am new to The Hidden Branch team. I’ve been building and expanding my family tree for several years now, and I’ve found loads of interesting people and places throughout my journey. But there is one place in particular that has topped the rest, Argentina. 

Now, you may be wondering, “How did you find Argentina in your family tree when pretty much all of your ancestors are Irish?” Believe me, I was wondering that too. Turns out, Argentina has a very large Irish diaspora, as many Irish immigrated to there during the 1800s. My 4th great-uncle on my father’s side, Hugh Doogan (often written as Duggan in records) had many children with a woman by the name of Jane Kelly. Two of these children, Tomas Doogan-Kelly and Anne Doogan-Kelly, emigrated from Ireland to Argentina. While I have no date or location of death for Anne, Tomas’ death took place on the 8th of June 1913, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tomas Duggan-Kelly, FamilySearch

At first, I thought, “Huh, that’s cool, a small branch of my tree is in Argentina.” Oh, how I was so naïve. Upon further investigation, thanks to the brilliant website that is FamilySearch, I uncovered a huge branch of my tree, in fact, it’s probably the biggest branch of my family tree. It’s insane. As I uncovered more leaves, I quickly began to discover some interesting differences between Irish and Argentine genealogy.

  • Argentinians (as well as most Latin-Americans and Spanish) hyphenate their surnames. For example, Tomas Duggan-Kelly married another Irish-Argentine by the name of Marcela Casey-O’Neill. Their children bore the surname Duggan-Casey. 
  • Despite being of Irish descent, Irish-Argentines would give their children Spanish-sounding first names, such as ‘Bernardo’ ‘Juana’ and ‘Carlos.’ This would lead to the quite humorous sounding combination of eloquent Spanish names followed by thick, rural Irish surnames. 
  • Middle names were a lot more commonplace, children would often have two names, followed by their last name. This would eventually grow until you have some very, very long names. One of Tomas Duggan-Kelly’s children had the name of Alberto Huberto Duggan-Casey. 

I also noticed that I was finding more people who were well-known in Argentina than in Ireland. My first ‘famous find’ was my 3rd cousin 3x removed Juan Diego Nelson-Duggan, commonly known as Jack Nelson. Nelson was the grandson of Tomas Duggan and the son of Juana Luisa Duggan-Casey and John Nelson McCormack. Jack Nelson was a polo player and a very good one. He represented Argentina in the 1924 Paris Olympics and in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning a gold medal in each, becoming the first person to win 2 gold medals for Argentina in the Olympics. 

Another well-known figure I was able to find is Eduardo Casey. Eduardo Casey is the brother of the wife of Tomas Duggan-Kelly, or in other words, the brother-in-law of my 1st cousin 5x removed. Casey was a well-known businessman in the region who founded several towns in the Buenos Aires district. 

I can go on and on about different people I’ve discovered in my tree, but I’d be here for ages, so I’ll just briefly list them here and my relation to them. Mind you, because this is Argentina, which is miles away from where I live, all of my relatives here are very distant, so you’ll see a lot of ‘removed’ or ‘in-law.’ Are most of these people related by blood? No. But I think the ability to connect them back to me on a family tree is stunning. 

  • Jack Nelson, olympian (3rd cousin 3x removed)
  • Eduardo Casey, businessman and rancher (brother-in-law of 1st cousin 5x removed)
  • José Francsico De San Martín y Matorras, military general, liberator of Argentina (husband of great-grandaunt of husband of 2nd cousin 4x removed)
  • Manuel Pedro De La Quintana Saenz-de Gaona, president of Argentina (grandnephew of wife of 2nd great-grandfather of husband of 2nd cousin 4x removed)

And much more!

Jack Nelson, Ancestry
Eduardo Casey
José Francsico De San Martín y Matorras
Manuel Pedro De La Quintana Saenz-de Gaona

What’s the point of me telling you all this? Well, I just want to encourage everyone reading this to keep digging, because there is a good chance that you may find something that surprises you. Everyone has their own version of my Argentina story, some just haven’t found it yet. Uncovering new branches also helps you learn the history of new areas, which helps improve your knowledge on the world, and hey, maybe you just found a new holiday destination. If you have found it, what is it? Feel free to tweet or message me or THB with your surprising stories, it’s always fun to learn about other people’s stories!