Fahy, Anthony Dominic (1805–71), Dominican priest and chaplain to the Irish in Argentina, was born 11 January 1805, the third of seven children (five boys and two girls) of Patrick Fahy, a brewer of Barracks Street, Loughrea, Co. Galway, and Belinda Cloran. Two of his brothers were priests – James in the diocese of Clonfert and William as a member of the Carmelite Order. His sister Matilda (in religion Sister Mary Catherine) was a Carmelite nun in Loughrea with a reputation for great sanctity. His father died 4 February 1810. After a number of years his mother remarried, this time to Lawrence Fahy, a building contractor who was related to her first husband; there were three children from this marriage.
Anthony Fahy joined the Dominican order on 4 August 1828 at Esker, receiving the religious name Dominic. He studied in Rome at San Clemente (1829–31), receiving all sacred orders at the Lateran Basilica, and continued his studies at the Minerva in Rome and at La Quercia, Viterbo (1831–3). He was at San Clemente before his departure for Ireland on 31 March 1834. From Ireland he went to the USA and worked in the diocese of Cincinnati in Somerset, Ohio, and in Kentucky under Bishop Fenwick OP (1834–6). Deteriorating health forced his return to Ireland in 1836, and while living in Loughrea he assisted Bishop Coen of Clonfert; apart from a short interlude of four months in 1837, when he was administrator of Kilmoremoy parish (Ballina, Co. Mayo) in the diocese of Killala, he remained in Loughrea until appointed prior of the Black Abbey, Kilkenny, in June 1839.
At the behest of Dr Daniel Murray (qv), archbishop of Dublin, Dr William Kinsella (1796–1845), bishop of Ossory (1829–45), chose Fahy as the priest who would go to Argentina in response to a request from the Irish community in Buenos Aires for a chaplain. Fahy left Ireland in September 1843 and arrived in Buenos Aires from Liverpool on the brig Plata on 11 January 1844. Over the course of the next twenty-seven years he dedicated himself to the care of thousands of Irish immigrants who struggled to succeed without any great facility with the Spanish language. Fahy quickly understood the needs of his fellow countrymen and set about organising what was required. His energy was extraordinary. He was very much at everybody's beck and call, direct of speech and almost gruff when he enquired of all who came to see him ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you want?’
In 1847 Fahy headed the Irish Relief Fund and remitted £411.1.10 to Dublin for famine victims in Ireland. The following year he opened the Irish Immigrant Infirmary in Buenos Aires to provide refuge and nursing for sickly newcomers. An article critical of the Buenos Aires governor, Juan Manuel Rosas, published in the Dublin Review in March 1849, drew a prompt rebuke from Fahy which was published in La Gaceta Mercantil. In 1850 he purchased land on the outskirts of the city (at the junction of the present-day Riobamba and Tucumán streets) with a view to building an Irish hospital. Two years later he had arranged for Capilla San Roque to be used by the Irish community, furnishing it with benches, an organ, a confessional, and a pulpit.
By 1853 Fahy was financing the studies of six seminarians at All Hallows College, Dublin. These clerical students would eventually be ordained and serve as Irish chaplains in Argentina. 1856 saw a division of Buenos Aires province into four areas, each with its own resident chaplain, and Fahy acting as their dean or vicar forane. The Sisters of Mercy arrived from Dublin on 24 February, an event which he described as ‘the happiest in the fourteen years of my pilgrimage in Buenos Aires’. The sisters founded their convent and took charge of the girls’ school, the House of Mercy, and the Irish Hospital. A school for boys opened in 1862, and by the following year all the seminarians whose studies Fahy had financed were in Argentina and living in the camp areas. His outstanding work and shining priestly zeal had not gone unnoticed: in recognition of his long service to the Irish community he was named an honorary canon of the cathedral of Buenos Aires by President Bartolomé Mitre – a unique honour for a foreigner and Dominican friar. A group of Irish residents presented Fahy with a gift of £600 to purchase his own house, but he gave the money to the Sisters of Mercy. By 1867 another six students whose education had also been financed by Fahy were ordained and looking after the rural Irish in Buenos Aires province.
Fahy died of a heart attack on 20 February 1871. The newspapers reported that he had died of yellow fever contracted while attending a sick Italian woman. This was widely accepted as fact, but the death certificate, signed by two doctors, unequivocally states that he died ‘from heart disease’. He was buried in the Recoleta cemetery, his grave located diagonally opposite that of his great friend Admiral William Brown (qv).
Practical and always assiduous in caring for his far-flung flock, Fahy is an emblematic figure of Irish emigration and settlement in Argentina and is commemorated by the Instituto Fahy, Moreno, which bears his name, and a street in the federal capital named in his honour.