The Fahy Family

Fahy family crest

(Crest No. 76. Plate 48.)

THE Fahy family, sometimes written Foy, is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon. The founder of the family was Brian, son of Eocha Moy Veagon, King of Ireland, A. D. 350. The ancient name was Fathaig and signifies “The Giant.” The possessions of the sept were located in the present Counties of Galway, Mayo, and Leitrim. The O’Fahys had their chief seat in the County of Galway. The name is sometimes written Fay, but is not to be identified with the Anglo-Norman Fays, who were seated in Westmeath.

A member of this family whose memory deserves to be held in honor was the Very Rev. Canon Fahy of the Argentine Republic. When the Irish emigration to that country took place in the early part of the present century, Father Fahy was one of their number and devoted his life to their spiritual and temporal welfare. He it was who first saw the possibilities of sheep-raising in that country and induced his countrymen to engage in that industry. Up to that time the native Argentines had no idea of the marvelous source of wealth that lay undeveloped, or, rather, undiscovered, about them.

For three hundred years the lands which the Irish turned to sheep-runs had been occupied by cattle that were raised only for their hides. The Irish emigrants, who were all poor, took employment wherever they could get it in order to accumulate a small capital and buy a few hundred sheep. Those who did not succeed were the exceptions. Immense fortunes were made in a short time and all were derived from the same source.

The Irish continued to buy lands and stock them with sheep until they possessed the monopoly of the greatest industry in the country and one of the greatest industries in the world.

A distinguished French lawyer and journalist of Buenos Ayres, M. Emile Daireau, writing recently on the subject, says: “It is no rare thing to find Irishmen who own from 20,000 to 100,000 sheep. Some of them became bankers and took charge of the treasures amassed by their fellow-countrymen, but they still continued to carry on their estancia business. The Irish have thus become owners of a great part of the north of the river Platte province. There another and richer green Erin exists, where the English language is spoken, and where names are heard which the Crollio finds it impossible to pronounce, so that the settlers are often obliged to modify their orthography in order to adapt themselves to local pronunciation. Twenty years ago there were about three thousand Irishmen established in the country. We may safely assert that their descendants today exceed thirty thousand. They are a powerful and rich phalanx who are seldom heard of, but who go on silently increasing in wealth and numbers, populating the plains of Buenos Ayres, living on their farms, and seldom taking up their residence in the city.”

This happy consummation and the fact that Argentine is to-day one of the leading wool-producing countries of the world are the results of the penetration and energy of Father Fahy, the Irish emigrant priest.