Bulfin, William (1863–1910), journalist in Argentina and travel writer, was born at Derrinlough House, near Birr, King's County (Offaly), and baptised 15 November 1863, fourth son in the family of ten sons and one daughter of William Bulfin, a strong farmer, and his wife Ellen (née Grogan), formerly of Rhode. Another son was Francis Bulfin (1874–1951). The younger William Bulfin was educated locally and at Galway grammar school. With his next eldest brother, Peter, he emigrated in 1884 to Argentina, where by his own account there were ten thousand Irish families by 1900. Thanks to an introduction from an uncle, Vincent Grogan (d. 1890), provincial of the Passionist priests in Argentina, he was employed, eventually as general manager, on a sheep farm belonging to an Irish settler, John Dowling. Later he claimed to have slept in the open air for three years, during which time he voraciously read history, poetry, and romances. He moved to Buenos Aires in 1889, supporting himself there by teaching English and working for a furniture-maker. Under the nom de plume ‘Che Buono’ he contributed tales and sketches to an Irish-Argentine newspaper, the Southern Cross (Buenos Aires), of which he subsequently became sub-editor (probably 1892) and finally owner and editor (1898); he made the paper profitable (he was to leave in Argentina an estate of over $23,000 net) as well as politically influential among Irish-Argentines.
Bulfin had strong Irish nationalist sympathies and promoted the Gaelic League (strong in Buenos Aires), collected donations for the league in Ireland, and corresponded with Douglas Hyde (qv). He was also in touch with Arthur Griffith (qv) whose new Sinn Féin movement he promoted, contributing regularly to his paper, the United Irishman, and getting some Irish in Argentina to subscribe to it, as well as himself buying shares in 1903. Bulfin promoted Irish goods in Argentina and set up a shop to sell books and artefacts of Irish nationalist and catholic interest. For his services to the catholic church in Argentina he was made a knight of St Gregory (1906). Some of his early tales were republished in book form as Tales of the Pampas (1900).
Bulfin revisited Ireland in 1902, 1904, and 1906. In the months from June 1902 to January 1903 he went on a dozen or more bicycle rides, mostly in the Irish midlands, his account of which was published serially in United Ireland (beginning in November 1902). A classic of its kind, it appealed strongly to Irish of ‘Irish-Ireland’ sympathies. It gives attention to local life and landscape but is excessively romantic and is vitiated by the author's preconceptions, preoccupations, and prejudices. In July 1907 it was republished in book form by M. H. Gill of Dublin as Rambles in Éirinn (5th ed., 1920). Bulfin's influence and reputation in Sinn Féin circles was high – Griffith considered him a future leader. He returned to Ireland in May 1909 intending to settle at Derrinlough. The following autumn he made another tour (of the north and north-west). Soon afterwards he went with the O'Rahilly (qv) to the United States to raise funds for a new Sinn Féin newspaper, but without success.
William Bulfin died of pneumonia on 1 or 2 February 1910, aged forty-five, at the home of his brother Joseph, Derrinlough House. He was described as a tall, well-built man (Keohane). In the several Gill editions of his travels there is a portrait of him from a photograph taken in Buenos Aires (c.1890). In Argentina he married (1891) Anne O'Rourke, a native of Ballymore, Co. Westmeath. Their son, Eamonn (1892?–1968), attended St Enda's School, joined the IRB, and fought with the insurgents in the 1916 rising. One of their four daughters, Catalina (1901?–76), was involved with the first Dáil Éireann and in 1926 married Seán MacBride (qv). William Bulfin was a nephew of Patrick Bulfin (1814–71), briefly lord mayor of Dublin, and so a first cousin of General Sir Edward Stanislaus Bulfin (1862–1939), who secured a place in the DNB for his career in the British army in South Africa and in the first world war. Bulfin's manuscripts, including letters and two unpublished novels, are in the NLI.