Friday, October 4, 2013

A Michigan Gaeltacht

Beaver Island, Michigan, and Árainn Mhór (Arranmore), Donegal are two places separates by thousands of miles, yet they have a strong bond. In 2000, the two islands were twinned due to the huge numbers of Árainn Mhór natives who settled on Beaver Island, beginning after the Famine.

More in-depth information about this can be found on a number of websites such as, a University of Notre Dame blog about Historical Archaeology of Irish America, and AineMcCormack's The Irish in America. An article on this topic was also published in The Irish at Home and Abroad Vol. 4. No. 4. 1997.

A brief examination of the 1880 U.S. Federal  census shows that over one third of residence in Manitou County[1], MI had the name Boyle or Gallagher[2], names usually associated with Donegal[3]. The arrival of these Donegal people saw the development of a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) all through the 19th century, until its demise in the early years of the 20th century.[4]

[1] This county was disbanded in 1895 and replaced by Charlevoix county. Both counties include(ed) Beaver Island, and surround islands.
[2] "United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch (; Boyle search 33 names, Gallagher search 50 names, Total Irish born in Manitou county 257 names; search carried out 3 September 2013.
[3] MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland. Dublin: Academic Press. 1985.
[4] Fernandez, Laura. Beaver Island Lumber Company and Culture Change on Historical Archaeology of Irish America. 2011; : accessed 3 September 2013

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