Early immigrants from Ireland were fishermen from Cork, Wexford and Waterford to the island of Newfoundland. This happened in 1536! The numbers were however very small.
Real Irish immigration to Canada only started late in the eighteenth century, After the independence of the United States, the government of “British North America” wanted to ensure their survival vis-a-vis its much bigger southern neighbor. It lifted any restrictions on Catholic immigration and even started offering free land to immigrants (with promises of 200 acres per family). This was helped by shipping companies looking for “cargo” for their journeys back from Europe, where they had delivered the foodstuffs that were the main export at that stage. Settlers fitted the bill nicely.
This turned out to be a big success, even before the Great Famine. The Famine did however, as in the United States, swell the numbers enormously.
Between 1825 and 1845, 60% of all immigrants to Canada were Irish, a total of approx. 600,000 people.
Most of them settled in Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec) and the maritime colonies of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Not all remained however, with many using Canada as a staging post on their way to the United States.
A large number of Irish Catholics arrived in Grosse Isle, an island in Quebec in the St. Lawrence River, which housed the immigration reception station. It would become a source of a tragedy. In 1847 over 80,000 people (of all nationalities) arrived here, more than double the number of the year before. 70% of these people were Irish. Many were sick after a long voyage on board of a so called “coffin ship”. These got this name, because it is thought that almost 1 out of every 6 passengers died during or immediately after the trip, mostly of typhus.
Before 1847, these sick were housed for a quarantine period in sheds. However, because of the huge influx of that year, the facility was overwhelmed and soon thousands of people carrying the disease started to arrive in Montreal, spreading it to the local population (including – it is said – the mayor of the city).
For this reason, so-called fever sheds were set up at Windmill Point. To care for, but especially isolate the sick. In 1847 and 1848 it is estimated that up to 6,000 Irish died here from “ship fever”. Their remains were discovered in 1859 by workers building the Victoria Bridge., who erected the Black Rock memorial in their honor. Its inscription reads:
Over 40 million Americans can claim Irish ancestry. Some know their family roots into detail, but many others only have some vague family stories or perhaps even only their name to remind them.
Emigration from Ireland started in earnest in the second half of the seventeenth century. It is thought that of the early colonial settlers around half came from the Irish province of Ulster while the other half came from the other three provinces of Ireland. Most of these were from families who had only a few generations before emigrated from Scotland and England to the new “plantations”. According to some sources, only 20,000 of the 250,000 people who emigrated from Ireland to the colonies (i.e. before independence) were Catholics.
These plantations were initiated by the English government as a scheme to tighten their grip on Ireland. Although first conquered centuries before, English power in Ireland was often threatened by a hostile population and its leaders. The plantation schemes simply were about replacing the population by more loyal subjects from England and later Scotland.
The first such schemes date from the middle of the sixteenth century but were not a success. The Ulster scheme, from the start of the seventeenth, attracted more “settlers”. Still, living among a hostile population did not turn out to be what the newcomers had dreamed about.
And then the new colonies of North America beckoned. Particular popular among these early Irish was New England, but groups also settled in the the Appalachian Mountain region.
Despite often appalling living conditions, Irish of old Irish ancestry did at this stage not emigrate in large numbers. Emigrating to another continent was not what it is now. It was a complete break from family, culture and language. And the possibility of death on the way. Not something that anyone would undertake without good reason.
Apart from this, emigration of Catholics to the colonies was actually outlawed by the English government. This only changed after independence when the colonies became the United States of America. In 1790, only a few years later, the USA’s Irish immigrant population numbered 447,000 and two-thirds originated from Ulster.
Catholic emigration only started to pick up after 1820. Part of the reason was the buoyant labour market in the USA, with plenty of work in in canal building, lumbering, and civil construction works in the Northeast.
However, as is well known, the pace really picked up as a result of the Great Famine. This famine was not caused by a food shortage. As a matter of fact, Ireland exported food, esp. grain, throughout the famine. The problem was that this grain was produced on large estates, owned by the English landlords, for export to England. Most Irish lived in abject poverty and survived almost completely on a very nutritious staple food: potatoes.
In the 1840’s there was however a recurring and increasingly severe failure of crops due to a potato decease, called blight. This disease caused the potato to rot before it could be harvested.
Massive numbers of Irish started to starve. At first there was no response from the English government, as they believed that they should not interfere with market forces. Only after a huge and worldwide outcry, and many private initiatives to give aid, did the English government belatedly start to help. But even then, it was based on a system where the Irish people were obliged to work for any assistance. This was the time that many desperate Irish emigrated, and also the time of the infamous coffin ships: by some estimated 1 out of every 6 passengers died during or shortly after the voyage.
Most of these immigrants arrived and stayed – at least initially – in the big cities of the Eastern United States.
The population of Ireland is thought to have numbered around 8 million before the Great Famine. This was almost halved by 1900. About a million people died between 1845 and 1849 as a direct result of the famine. The rest emigrated.
What is not always understood is that these people did not always emigrate during the famine. Many did, with the UK and the USA being the most popular destinations. As a result, Irish communities were formed in these countries. And once these were formed, it became much easier for next generations to follow, which they continued and continue to do.
It is estimated that eight million people emigrated between 1801 and 1921. That is equal to the entire population before the famine! The majority of these – then and now – were between 18 and 30 years old.
|Irish immigration to the United States (1820–2004)|
|Total : 4,787,580|
As mentioned, the big Eastern cities were the main destinations for the Irish. However, not all remained in these cities. Countless others were part of the westward expansion. of the United States. They were enticed by tales of gold, and by the increasing opportunities for work and land. Kansas City for example is one city that was built by Irish immigrants and a large number of its population today is of Irish descent.
The Irish were having a huge impact on America as a whole. In 1910, there were more people in New York City of Irish ancestry than Dublin’s whole population, and even today, many cities still retain a substantial Irish American community.
During the mid-1900s Irish immigration to the United States began to decrease. However, to this day, the United States is a popular destination for Irish people seeking a better life somewhere else.
We in Ireland are looking forward to next weekend, when we celebrate St. Patrick. Patrick is Ireland’s most famous saint. He lived from ca. 385 to ca. 465 AD. He was born in Roman Britain, apparently in a well-to-do family. This did not protect him from being kidnapped by Irish marauders who sold him into slavery in Ireland. He managed to escape and return to his homeland, where he became a priest. It was in this role he returned to Ireland, this time to convert the then still pagan Irish to Christianity.
Nowadays, his day – 17 March – is a huge celebration across the world.
Every year our “an taoiseach” (Irish Prime Minister) gets to visit the White House in Washington to offer the sitting President of the USA a bowl of shamrock.
The parade in New York City, this year under Grand Marshal Loretta Brennan Glucksman,is one of the biggest parades on New York’s calendar. It has been going since 1762 (although initially it was a gathering and not a parade).
And of course people drink and eat green food, fountains spout green water and landmarks “go green”. Last year a record 278 iconic landmarks and sites in 44 countries were turning green for St Patrick’s Day – the biggest number to date.
In Ireland St. Patrick’s Day has been turned into a 5-day festival. This year it takes place from 15-19 March. You can read all about it here: St. Patrick’s Festival Dublin 2018
It is also a busy time for genealogists, as many Americans, Canadian, Australians, etc. want to learn more about their Irish roots. If you have a friend, family member or acquaintance who is interested in his or her Irish ancestry, can you imagine how happy they would be to get professional help?
Here at Genealogy.ie we sell vouchers in USD, EUR and GBP and in various amounts. You can order them by clicking on the picture below.
Genealogy.ie has just been published for the second time in “Your Genealogy Today“, a leading genealogical magazine in North America.
“Your Genealogy Today” is a resource guide to successful genealogical research. Whether you are a beginner, or an experienced genealogist, each issue provides you with proven techniques and sources for discovering your ancestors. With regular columns on: “Genealogy Tourism”, “DNA & Your Genealogy”, and “Advice from the Pros”. In each case, the columns will be authored on a rotational basis by contributors who are experts in their respective fields. It is published six times a year.
It can be bought in Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in the USA and Chapters book stores in Canada.
Our article in the January/February issue is about “Avoiding Common Mistakes”. It gives advice on how to prevent research errors by using the guidelines of the Genealogical Proof Standard, that we in Genealogy.ie rigorously adhere to.
This article joins a growing collection of contributions that Genealogy.ie is making to various magazines in North America and Ireland. You can read about the periodicals and download our articles from our website, by clicking the button below. (Note: our latest article is not available for download yet as it is only just published).
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We would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and hope you will find lots more long lost family members in 2018.
TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Family stories can be found in many places. Ever looked in that box in the attic with old films? Super8 films can now be converted to digital format, as we did with this short video, which was taken by a relation when she visited Bath in 1965. Included in this video is the front of 58 Hungerford Road, 3 Wellington Place and 19 Camden Place (all homes of ancestors). By 1966, 3 Wellington Place no longer existed as it had fallen away. Of course, in the film you will also see the Assembly Rooms, Bath Cathedral and life at that time.
PRAISE FROM DOWN UNDER
Finally, we just completed work for Michael, all the way from Queensland in Australia. We were very chuffed with his feedback, which we are quite happy to share with you.
“Your work is perfect Jillian, thanks very much. I’m so pleased I commissioned you to research my family, it saved me countless hours of fruitless searching. Your final report is so detailed, professionally presented and easy to read. I really wasn’t expecting so much, information. Well done and again thank you, it was well worth it.”
Do you have a family member or friend who is “bitten” by the family history “bug”?
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The aim of the Kilmacud Stillorgan Local History Society is to promote and sustain an interest in our culture, heritage and history, particularly with regard to Kilmacud Stillorgan and the adjoining areas.
The twelfth edition of the Society’s annual journal, Obelisk, was launched to a packed audience in the Function Room, Glenalbyn, Stillorgan on 23 November. It’s stories help to give us a fuller picture of daily life and the streetscape of times past.
A full list of stories can be find below. For the third year running, our own Michael van Turnhout contributed to the journal with an article about a big house and its occupants over time.
To obtain a copy please send €10 (Overseas €13), to cover purchase price (€6), postage and packing to: Kilmacud Stillorgan Local History Society, 9 Marsham Court, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin
List of Articles in 2018 Obelisk
Mater Admirabilis Day Secondary School in the 1960s – ROSE MARY LOGUE
Francis Ledwidge: A Name in Sunshine – FRANK TRACY
Famine Heroes of Stillorgan – BRYAN MacMAHON
Herbert Hill, Dundrum – MARGARET SMITH
Field Marshal Viscount Gough (1779-1869) – VIVIEN IGOE
I Remember Victoria Cross, Cork – PHILIP CHAMBERS
Stillorgan to Adelaide and Back – MICHAEL FITZGERALD
A Building Life – MATT CAHILL
Blackrock 75 Years Ago – BRIAN Mac AONGUSA
All Hallows College and Stillorgan – PETER SOBOLEWSKI
I was Born on a Farm in Dublin 4 – SYLVESTER BYRNE
Valley of Thrushes – SILVIA DUNNE
Growing Up in Mount Merrion in the 1940s and 1950s – RORY WALSH
Gordonville, Dundrum – MICHAEL van TURNHOUT
A Renaissance Man on Newtownpark Avenue – AIDEN FEERICK
Margaret (1813-1882) – PAT SHERIDAN
The Rural District Council and the Unclimbable Fences – JAMES SCANNELL
Excursion to Ardagh and Strokestown – AIDEN FEERICK
Genealogy Day in Glenalbyn – EDDIE GAHAN
GAA President’s Award for John Sheridan – AISLINN HARKIN
Recent Publications by our Members
Tim Finn and the Easter Rising: A Sequel – BRYAN MacMAHON
Below you will find the 10 most popular Irish surnames, their crest and their meaning. If one of these is your family name, you are actually out of luck when it comes to family history research: there are so many Murphy’s, Kelly’s, O’Sullivan’s, etc. that is often very difficult to ascertain if a particular person in a genealogical record is your ancestor or just someone else with the same name! Your research will needs extra checks, additional proof, access to more sources, etc. Genealogy.ie is happy to assist.
Irish surname meaning "foreigner"; brought to to Ireland after Norman invasion. Most common in counties Mayo and Kilkenny.
Anglicized version of Irish personal name name Murchadh, which meant "sea-warrior" or "sea-battler"
Gaelic clan based in what is today County Cork and County Kerry. Before Anglo-Norman inviasion in County Tipperary.
Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Briain 'descendant of Brian', a personal name probably meaning 'eminence' or 'exalted one'.
Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Ceallaigh 'descendant of Ceallach' meaning 'bright-headed'
Anglicised from Irish 'Ó'Broin', meaning descendants of Bran, ("raven"). From Kildare, descendants of King of Leinster.
Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Gobhann (Scottish) and Mac Gabhann (Irish) meaning 'son of the smith'.
Anglicised from Irish surname Ó Riain meaning "descendant of Rían", meaning "little king"
Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Conchobhair 'descendant of Conchobhar', meaning 'lover of hounds'.
Anglicization of Gaelic Ua Néill, meaning descendant of Niall. Niall couild mean "cloud", "passionate" or "champion".
This is an article we wrote giving a snapshot of a 19th Century primary school – the type of school your Irish ancestors would have gone to. It was published in an edited from in “Your Genealogy Today”, a North American genealogy magazine.
In the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census records a note would be made if your ancestors could read and write or not. Most could, so clearly they had enjoyed some form of education. However, most children would come from poor, rural families and would be expected to work from an early age. So, how could they also go to school? How did they pay for it? What were these schools like?
Looking at school records, especially when combined with other local records, can answer a lot of these questions and give a great snapshot of how your ancestors would have spent their schooldays. They would have been quite different than ours! Thankfully, there are records available on a lot of schools in the National Archives of Ireland, because most if not all schools would have requested subsidies from the Department of Education at various times of their existence. Schools were looking for these subsidies because, although they were mostly opened and run on the basis of private initiative, they wouldn’t have been able to survive without government assistance.
To illustrate what you would be able to find out, the rest of this article is looking at a typical school, St. Mary’s National School in Sandyford, now a suburb of Dublin, then a small village some distance outside the city.
As was often the case, the initiative to open this school was taken by a member of the church. The parish of Sandyford was formed in 1829. Fr. Patrick Smyth became parish priest of the new Sandyford Church (as well as the nearby Glencullen Church). He was a big supporter of providing education to the poor, as will become clear below. Local land owner Daniel McKay, who owned the “Moreen” estate, was prevailed upon to give land towards a new school. Several fundraising drives followed. The school finally opened on 25th January 1841. On the 4th February 1842, Reverend Patrick Smyth wrote a report for the application for aid for his new school. In it he gave us a good description of how the school looked like and how it was run. The school was located in the Taney parish, Balally townland and Barony of Rathdown. It had its own purpose-built building, which had been constructed by private donation. It was constructed from limestone and had a slate roof. It was 60 foot long and 35 foot wide. It had two separate rooms, one for male pupils (35 foot by 20 foot) and one for female pupils (30 foot by 20 foot). There were also 4 small apartments for the teachers. In the “male” room, there were 11 desks and in the “female” room 7 plus a large table. Each room was said to be able to accommodate from 100 to 120 pupils! The principal was Cornelius O’Driscoll, who also taught in the Glencullen school. He was only 20 years old, but was described as ‘trained’. He was assisted by Jane Reilly, also 20 and trained at the Kildare Place Society (see box). Rev. Smyth considered Jane “infinitely well qualified for her duty, both from the beautiful specimens of needlework she showed me as well as from the clear and efficient manner she displayed in the examination of her pupils.” The teachers were paid £8 per year. This was also funded by charity, from a legacy, which earned £17-10 interest per year. Pupils also had to pay, 9p per week. All pupils were “from the poorer classes”. At the start they had 84 male pupils and 93 female pupils on the books. Average attendance however was 55 and 70 respectively.School hours were from 10 AM to 2 PM in winter and until 3 PM in summer, 5 days per week. The main books used were for teaching arithmetic, grammar and geography. There was also daily religious instruction from 2.30-3 PM and all day on Fridays!
As you can see, the records are a veritable treasure trove of information. From them we learn that the school day would be relatively short, leaving time for children to help their families. Despite this, absenteeism was high, likely for the same reason. Only a few topics would be taught, with religion taking a very large place in the curriculum. Conditions would be basic. Pupils would only pay a very small amount towards their education, which was the reason why schools would be raising funds, rely on charity and asking for subsidies. The above will hopefully give you an idea of how a typical school day looked like in 1842 in St. Mary’s. Thankfully much has changed in this particular school that still goes strong today. Who knows what the records will tell you about your ancestors’ school?
Department of Education (1842) Application for Grant by Reverend Patrick Smyth, National Archives of Ireland, Document Reference ED1/28/94/2
(1837) ‘True Liberality’, Freeman’s Journal,21 August, p. .
(14th March 2014) Kildare Place Society, Available at: http://www.worldhistory.biz/…/42265-kildare-place-society.h… (Accessed: 26th February 2016).
Ask About Ireland () Learning Zone Primary Students 5th & 6th – 1828,Available at: http://www.askaboutireland.ie/…/looking-…/19th-century/1828/ (Accessed: 12th March 2017).
Myles Dungan (9th September 2016) On This Day – 9 September 1831 – Irish National Education,Available at: https://mylesdungan.com/tag/kildare-place-society/ (Accessed: 12th March 2017).
Picture: Caledon School, Co Tyrone. Built 1907. Taken 2017. Author’s Collection.
Yesterday, we had a lovely visit to June Blake’s Garden in Blessington, Co. Wicklow. Even on a autumn’s day it was a sea of colour and life. Huge thanks to June and her son Dara for the very informative tour. You can find out more about June’s garden and the holiday rooms she has available to rent here: June Blake’s Garden.
Below you can enjoy our short video of our visit.