Welcoming home the Great Famine diaspora
During the course of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1851, more than a million people emigrated from Ireland never to return. On the Strokestown estate of the Mahon family, more than 5,000 people left. Some, like the 1,432 in the summer of 1847 who went to Canada, were assisted by the landlord in emigration. Most, however, received small sums of money to go and sailed for England, Canada, America and Australia. As preparations continue for the 2013 Gathering, when Ireland will take centre stage in the minds of millions of people claiming Irish descent around the world, at Strokestown Park House an exciting project is underway as part of those celebrations. In 2013, Strokestown Park, in collaboration with the Department of History, NUI Maynooth, will welcome the Strokestown Famine Diaspora back to county Roscommon for a week long celebration which will include an international famine conference, music, drama and other community based activities.
Sample sketches of the Strokestown Famine Diaspora
- Michael Donnelly, aged fifty, who along with his wife Winifred, aged 50 and children John (21); Mary (19); Catherine (17) and Timothy (15) who sailed for New Orleans in 1849
- Catherine Blair of Lissonuffy, near Strokestown arrived in Baltimore, MD in 1850. She is recorded in the Federal Census in 1850 as living there with her husband James, aged 57 and three children William aged 11, Thomas aged 9 and Jane aged 2
- What became of James Spellman who arrived in New York in 1846? Was he the same person that is listed in the 1860 census as living in Newport, Herkimer, New York with his wife Teresa 30 yrs, and three daughters Mary 6, Martha 4 and Catherine aged, by which time he had amassed property valued at $3,377 dollars and personal estate worth $1,500.
- Michael Dufficy was a Justice of the Peace for Marin County, while John McGuire, son of a Famine emigrant was mayor of Passaic County in the early 19th century
- Martha Mulhern, Strokestown a farm labourer aged 45 landed in Sydney, Australia with her sons John and Martin in 1851
- Edward O'Beirne left Strokestown during the famine and was killed in Missouri in 1863 during the American Civil War
In total the Strokestown Park Archive contains details on over 10,000 people during the Great Famine, through emigration, eviction, relief and workhouse records. A sampling of the family names of those who emigrated during the Great Famine include:
Brennan, Feeney, Murray, McGuire, Hogan, Fitzsimons, Gannon, Freeman, Conry, Casserly, Doherty, Burke, Murtagh, Moran, Duffy, Fahey, Kelly, Goodman, Bowens, Doyle , Kenny, Moore, Beirne, Gibbons, Healy, Finnegan, Quinn, Egan, Fallon, Hanly, Tighe, Donnelly, Hunt, Cox, Dempsey, Donegan, Dwyer, McCormick, Glancy, Madden, Lannon, Rush, Duffy, McLaughlin, Conneally, Higgins and Flannigan.
Dr Ciarán Reilly is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of History, NUI Maynooth carrying out research on the Strokestown Park House Archive.