Friday, November 29, 2013

From the Blaskets To Beyond Boston

Understanding migration patterns can sometimes be the key to finding the place of origin in Ireland. Another example of this is the number of Kerry people from the Blasket Islands who settled in Springfield, MA. Indeed, the most 'Irish' section of this city was traditionally the Hungry Hill neighborhood.

Commentary from different sources[1][2] indicates that this migration was probably not famine related, but occurred primarily in the first half of the 20th century. But of course, both push and pull factors would have been evident, with the Blaskets being one of the harshest places in Ireland to eke out a living.

More broadly, the scores of young Kerry-born men living in Springfield in the early 20th century is vividly illustrate by a search in the United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database.

Earlier this year, the Mass Live news website featured articles about the Irish in Springfield, focusing on how the Hungry Hill area got its name and the launch of a book, From the Great Blasket To America: The Last Memoir by an Islander, by a Blasket man, Michael J. Carney.

This document, prepared by archaeologist Chris Fennell, University of Illinois, provides a useful historical introduction to the Blaskets and a bibliography of sources for those with ancestors from the area.

[1] Fennell, Chris. Tradition and Modernity on Great Blasket Island, Ireland. University of Illinois: unpublished document. Available online at accessed 19 November 2013.
[2] Kelliher, Judith. 'Native Irish speaker Michael Carney, of East Longmeadow, scheduled to release his Blasket Island memoir at national celebration in Ireland'. Available online at accessed 19 November 2013.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Tweet Treat From Irish Roots Magazine

Irish Roots Magazine tweeted about their Irish genealogy sources in the US series.

Their current edition focuses on directories.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center

Philadelphia was one of the many northeastern cities that saw heavy Irish immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That automatically makes the Catholic Church records of the area a valuable genealogical resource. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia covers the city and county of Philadelphia, along with Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. It was founded in 1808 from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and originally encompassed all of Pennsylvania, Delaware and some of New Jersey.

The main place of research is the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center (PAHRC) in Wynnewood, PA. At the center there are many sources of interest to genealogists: parish histories; Catholic newspapers; manuscripts; and periodicals are just some of the resources.

Most importantly, though, are the baptismal and marriage registers, along with records for three orphanages (St. John’s Orphan Asylum, St. Joseph’s House for Homeless Boys, and St. Francis’ Industrial School in Eddington). An important year of reference for research in the registers is 1920. After this year, the records are at the individual parishes and for inquiries before this year you need to contact the center (they don't seem to reference the year 1920 itself, but it is presumed they are at the center too).

While the PAHRC is open to research by appointment you can't conduct research in the parish registers yourself. This is done by the staff and there is an hourly research fee. Lastly, the archdiocesan has a section on its website that lists all of its parishes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Information Wanted: Albany, NY talk

Of Irish genealogy, you can learn more about it at the Irish American Museum in Albany, NY, from Lisa Dougherty. The talk is on tomorrow, Wednesday, 26 November, 11am-1pm. Admission is free. Thanks to Irish Genealogy News.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Tar Abhaile, Episode 2

Episode two of Tar Abhaile was on last night (scroll down, or click here, for a review of episode one) and it featured one person from each side of the border than is often crossed in this blog - Brenda Cavillin (nee Killeen) from Ontario, Canada, and Blake Dickie, from St. Louis, MO. Despite being from faraway places, they shared a common place of origin, Tulla. Co Clare. The episode also showcases the value of graveyard research in Ireland.

Brenda's journey was highlighted first and her ancestry goes back to the mid-19th century as her probably 5x great-grandfather, James Kileen, went to Canada in 1847. He did so as his father received land for army service, possibly a land grant for serving in the British army. James had two brothers in Ireland, Charles and John, and they shape the rest of Brenda's visit.

Blake's case was quite interesting in that he was adopted but was able to find out who his birth parents were. He struggled to find information about his mother's family but was successful with research into his father's side. Two of Blake's ancestors, John Moroney and Susan McNamara married, probably, in Springfield MA; both were from the Tulla area. Susan's parents were John McNamara and Bridget Clune. Bothe these families are the focus of Blake's journey to Ireland.

Like Martha in the first episode, Blake got to meet one of the oldest people in the area, Jackie Moroney, and he was related to him. It was very touching to hear Jackie tell Blake that he could see his own father in Blake's facial features. He also found out who Bridget Clune's parents were which was one of his main goals.

For Blake, one of the valuable lessons of Irish genealogy in North America was learned: he came to Ireland soon after discovering he had Irish heritage but learned little. This is completely understandable but it shows that you need to carry out extensive research in the U.S. and Canada first. This was a good theme to touch on in Blake's story.

After finding the place of origin in Ireland, the next thing that most family researchers want to discover is what was life like for their ancestors in Ireland. In this episode I felt the viewer really got an understanding of that; in particular, through learning about the life of the Rev. Charles Killeen, Brenda's ancestor. Also, the extra information that was found on the grave of Rev. Killeen, in the Killeen family graveyard in Kiltenane, and on the Clune family graves was a fantastic extra bonus.

Obviously the show is not about trawling through family history documents, as this is done before the person comes to Ireland. However, I felt it would have been very interesting to hear more about the land that Brenda's ancestor received from his army service, and to also show some documents in relation to that. Also, a small piece about the huge Irish concentration in Springfield, MA might have added additional perspective to Blake's story.

The Tar Abhaile series is showcasing the success of the Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) organization. Ireland XO focus on the simple but brilliant idea of finding out who left a particular area, tracing their living descendants all around the world, and inviting them back to where their ancestors are from.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Tar Abhaile, Episode 1

TG4, the Irish language television station in Ireland, has recently begun broadcasting an innovative new genealogy show called Tar Abhaile (Come Home). Tied in with the Gathering, Ireland's yearlong celebration to invite members of the diaspora home, the show will focus on two people each week as they go to Ireland, learn about the lives of their ancestors, and meet extended family members.

The show will broadcast each Sunday for six weeks from 17 Nov to 22 Dec (click here to lean more about it). I will provide a review whenever a participant is from the U.S. or Canada

The first show, which aired last Sunday, featured Marsha Tomas who traveled from Chicago to Limerick. Her great-grandparents, Bridget Barry and James Cooke, had emigrated separately from the county. Their daughter, Ann Cooke, was Marsha's grandmother and she lived with Marsha as she was growing up in Chicago.

Marsha, her husband, and two children, traveled to Ireland where their learned about their ancestors and met 99-year old Tommy Cooke, a descendant of a brother of James Cooke.

The main genealogical records highlighted in the show were the Petty Session Court records. Marsha and her family learned about their ancestors brushes with the law, and also their family history that involved the 19th century Land War.

Rather than exclusively focusing on Marsha and her family, the show focuses just as much on the area where her ancestors came from. For me, this is a good idea as all Irish genealogical research turns into local history research when you find where your ancestors are from.

As a genealogist, I would have liked to have seen one or two more records highlighted, maybe the Chicago marriage records for Bridget and James or a local history record in the section about the Land War.

Overall, though, it was very enjoyable and is different than the other genealogy shows currently on TV.

Marsha's story is featured in the first half of the show, which you can watch, below.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Upstate New York Irish II

There are two organizations of interest if you live in the Buffalo region of New York and are looking to start tracing your Irish ancestry. Firstly, there is the organization that is indispensible to every genealogist, the local library system, in this case the Buffalo and Erie County public library. They have produced a helpful online publication, Irish Genealogy: Selected Sources in the Grosvenor Room. The Grosvenor Room houses the special collections.

Among the usual listing of books and resources, one in particular caught my eye. The Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society, the second relevant organization, carried out an indexing project of Irish burials in Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna, NY. This index was published in the Buffalo Irish Times, a paper aimed at the Irish community in the area. The records cover 1872 to 1964, and are available on microfilm in the Grosvenor Room, call number WNYGS ML229.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An Irish Potter

Artifacts left by early 19th century Irish immigrants can often be few and far between. One rare example is this piece of pottery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

It was made by William Lundy and “the unusual decoration on this jug features two American flags and an anchor.”[1] Lundy worked as a potter in Troy, NY and was most active in the 1820s.[2] Many Irish immigrants came to this part of New York State in the first half of the 19th century, attracted by the developing industries in Troy and nearby Albany. 

You can view the artifact in more detail on the Smithsonian website. If anyone is a descendant of William Lundy, or knows where he came from in Ireland, it would be great to hear more about his life in the comments section.

[1] Smithsonian Institution. Stoneware Jug. 2012. : accessed 6 November 2013
[2] Cushman, Paul. The Work and World of an Early 19th Century Albany Potter. Albany: Albany Institute of History and Art. 2007. p.48

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Langford Goes From Laois To London, Ontario

Over the past few months the Irish Genealogical Research Society, based in London, England, has put some very useful databases on their website. The most recent addition was a database of 250,000 names taken from their journal the Irish Genealogist (IG).

This journal is a treasure trove of decades of genealogy articles of all types: family genealogies; research on the occupations, clothing and customs of our ancestors; and transcriptions from all sorts of family history records, such as parish registers, voter registrations and membership rolls, to name just a few.

I recently came across some editions of the IG on the shelves of the Virginia Room at the City of Fairfax library in Fairfax, VA. These journals, from the 1970s, had many articles of interest to those looking for an ancestor’s townland of origin in Ireland.

One very interesting article was "The Journal of an Emigrant to Canada."[1] It detailed the diary entries of Thomas Alexander Langford from Laois (also known as Leix and Queen's County)  as he traveled to his uncle Isaac in London, Ontario, Canada. He sailed from Liverpool to New York City in December 1853 and then took various modes of transportation up through the state of New York and across the border.

It was a fascinating read and told of the ships journey, being quarantined on Staten Island, his stay in New York City, and his travels northwards. 

Did he meet his uncle in the end? You'll have to get a copy of the article to find out! 

[1] Begley, Donal. “The Journal of an Emigrant to Canada.” Irish Genealogist. Vol 6. No. 1. 1974. pp.43-47.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Upstate New York Irish

Oneida County is in the upstate area of New York and is bisected by the Erie Canal. Many Irish worked on this project in the early 19th century and settled in this part of the state. An interesting article in the Irish Genealogist journal outlines some newspaper articles that refer to Irish immigrants in Oneida County and, importantly, where they came from in Ireland.[1] People from Mayo, Tipperary, Tyrone, Galway, Dublin, Antrim, Monaghan and Wexford are mentioned.

[1] Grimes, Marilla R. ‘Some Newspaper References to Irish Immigrants in Oneida Co., New York.’ Irish Genealogist Vol. 6. No. 2. 1974. pp. 97-98.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Low Country Irish III

James Armstrong of Derry d. 9 October 1852; Margaret Armstrong (1st wife) of Leitrim d. 10 October 1849; Julia (2nd wife) of Galway d. 4 October 1896

John Alexander Armstrong of Derry d. 3 February 1867

Capt. Edward Miles of Down d. 17 September 1846; Margaret Joanna Monica Miles (daughter, unknown if she married)  d. 2 October 1847

John Dougherty of Magilligan, Derry d. 30 November 1844

Friday, November 1, 2013

Low Country Irish II

Ellen Leonard of Cavan d. 17 September 1849

David Dunn of Cork d. 22 October 1823 (beside John Dunn headstone)

John Dunn of Cork d. 29. July 1828 (beside David Dunn headstone)

Gerald Slattery d. 11 July 1838; Jeremiah Slattery d. 8 September 1838; John Slattery 11 September 1838; three brothers from Tipperary / Also mentioned: Catherine Slattery (sister)

Thomas Lynch of Meath  d. 1 May 1815(?)