Tag Archives: Irish Emigration

April 13 1912: Titanic sails in calm waters

On this night 101 years ago, the RMS Titanic is sailing through calm waters. Just over 48 hours earlier she had departed Queenstown, County Cork. Passengers on board expect  to dock in New York on April 17, four days from now.

Among them are wealthy Americans who, having completed their tour of Europe are returning home in the most luxurious and fastest liner on the Atlantic route. Here too are hundreds of emigrants who have bidden farewell to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends all across Europe, and are now looking forward to a new life in a new land.

Titanic_Band

Members of the Orchestra on board Titanic. Image Wikimedia.Commons

As they steam towards their meeting with destiny in just 24 hours from now, many 1st class passengers may be enjoying and dancing to the music of the on-board orchestra, while many others begin to settle down for the night. The calm conditions  make for a comfortable night’s sleep. The 128 children on board are probably already settled. For many of them –  for most of them – this is to be their last night alive.

References

Wikipedia.org

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Irish Diaspora, Irish History, Mayo Emigrants, Titanic

April 11 1912,Titanic sails from Ireland

On the afternoon of April 11 1912, the Titanic picks up her last 123 passengers at Queenstown County Cork, Ireland. Joining the 2,105 already on board are 113 who will travel in 3rd class, 7 for 2nd class, and 3 as 1st class passengers.

Addergoole 14

Waiting on the Queenstown quayside to join the RMS Titanic
Published with permission of artist.

For some on board, this was a great adventure, crossing the Atlantic on board a luxurious new ship. Many may have been excited by the prospect of a new life in the New World, while many more would be feeling great sorrow at leaving loved ones behind, not knowing when or where they will meet again.

Titanic last

The last known image of Titanic as she departs Queenstown.Image Wiki.Commons

And so the RMS Titanic steams out of Cork Harbour for a meeting with destiny no one on board could envisage.

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Filed under Emigrants from other countries, Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Irish American, Irish Diaspora, Irish Heritage, Irish History, Mayo Emigrants, Titanic

In Dublin’s Fair City

Last weekend I was in Dublin for a family occasion and stayed – for the very first time – in the rejuvenated  docklands  at Sir Rogerson’s Quay. I have long wanted to see at first hand the cleverly designed, harp shaped new bridge over the River Liffey …and there it was – right on the doorstep of our hotel! In the quiet traffic free hours of a Sunday morning I took a stroll along this lovely part of the South Bank.

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The Samuel Beckett Bridge, having ‘the appearance of a harp lying on its side ‘

The Samuel Beckett Bridge carries both vehicles and pedestrians and is, in my opinion,one of the most beautiful structures in Dublin.

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The Convention Centre, Dublin

Right alongside the bridge is another stunning structure – the world-class Dublin Convention Centre, with its tilted glass cylinder  beautifully reflected in the  Liffey waters.

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The Dublin Convention Centre from Samuel Beckett Bridge

The Convention Centre dissected by the stays of the Samuel  Becket Bridge.

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A view of Dublin City through the Samuel Beckett Bridge

Looking back towards the City Centre, some of Dublin’s iconic structures are framed by elements of the bridge. The tall building is  Liberty Hall. Built in the 1960s it is renowned for its non pleasing appearance, but is nevertheless an integral part of the Dublin sky-scape. In total contrast, the green dome is atop one of the most beautiful buildings in Dublin, the fabulous Gandon designed  18th century Custom House. The tall spire to the right of the dome is the Monument of Light, otherwise known as The Spire, reaching 121.2 metres into the Dublin sky.This very elegant and modern  stainless steel structure has been part of the Dublin skyline since 2002.

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Liberty Hall, The Custom House and The Spire ‘through the eye’ of Samuel Beckett Bridge

Another view of 3 of Dublin’s iconic structures, all on the north side of the River Liffey,  from the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

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Ulster Bank Headquarters, on the Liffey South Bank, from Samuel Beckett Bridge.

Equally iconic, although a recent addition to the Dublin sky scape, is the glass, multi-roofed building that is  the headquarters of the Ulster Bank. It looks very spectacular at night especially when approaching the city from the north side.

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The Jeanie Johnston Replica Famine Ship.

Moored  between Séan O’Casey Bridge and the Samuel Beckett Bridge, with the Custom House in the left background, is the replica famine ship, the Jeanie Johnston. Built about 2002 in County Kerry, she is a replica of the original that sailed between Tralee in County Kerry and North America from  1847 to 1855. The Jeanie Johnston was  remarkable in that no life was ever lost on the difficult voyages between Ireland and the New World. She is open to the public. I boarded her when she was tied up in Fenit, County Kerry, some years ago and she is well worth a visit to see at first hand what the living conditions were like for the emigrants who sailed in her.

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Statue of Mayo-man Admiral William Brown, ‘Father of the Argentine Navy’

A few yards from the Samuel Beckett Bridge, on the seaward side, stands a statue of  Admiral William Brown, or Guillermo Brown as he is known in Argentina. This illustrious Irish emigrant  changed the history of South America. This piece is from the Connaught Telegraph :

”Admiral William Brown, the hero of Garcia, Montevideo and Los Pozos, is acknowledged as ‘the father of Argentina’s Navy.’But he was even more than all that. He was a champion and friend of human liberty and the emancipator of a whole nation. In fact, the entire continent of South America owes him a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that he was one of the world’s foremost and greatest men of action, and that his exploits and heroism have profoundly influenced the course of history.”

Feb13 Book Launch + Dublin 036Beyond the statue of Admiral Brown, looking seaward there are reminders of the history of the old Dublin Port when ships were once moored along these docks.

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The modern Dublin Port in the distance, with these once busy quays now providing an excellent recreational, commercial and residential amenity.Feb13 Book Launch + Dublin 035Reminders of the past are all along the quay wall.

References

http://www.jeaniejohnston.ie

http://www.con-telegraph.ie

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Filed under Ireland, Irish Heritage, Irish History, Living in Ireland, Mayo Emigrants

To Australia,with love – February 2012

It was foggy. It was wet. It was cold. It was a February afternoon in Cork Ireland, the starting point for my great excursion across the world. Soon, at a height of 31,000 feet above Wales, we broke free of the grey cloud and rain and cruised over a tapestry of snow-covered fields lit by the evening sun. From east of the Bristol Channel all the way over to London Heathrow, England, the countryside was iced in snow, making a beautiful ground pattern far below. This was  the first leg of what was to be a long journey.

Snow covered approach to London Heathrow on an Aer Lingus Flight from Cork, Ireland on a misty cold winter evening.

Departure on the second leg  was delayed  for about 10 minutes as the pilot asked us not to be alarmed to see the wings of the plane being sprayed for de-icing purposes! A further delay ensued as the plane ahead of us became ‘stuck’ and we were  re- routed to another runway. Finally, almost an hour behind schedule, the great Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 with capacity for 850 passengers, lifted effortlessly and smoothly into  the night  sky. Below, London’s countless millions of lights sparkled and stretched for miles as we climbed higher and higher. 7,067 miles to go to our destination, Singapore!

Out over Biggin Hill, best  known for its role in the Battle of Britain in the second World War, we head  south towards  Dover to cross the English Channel into Europe and onwards across  Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and the Czech Republic. South of  Bielsko-Biała in Poland we turn southwards into Slovakia, across Hungary and into Romania. We then head over the Black  Sea – once a blue blob on my geography school atlas, now a vast expanse of water  – indeed a ‘sea’,  miles below. Here, some 1,500 miles into our flight, we met the salmon- pink light of dawn of the following day, as the sun relentlessly made its way to Cork, Ireland where I had come from, some eleven hours earlier.

On the far shore of the Black Sea we fly over Georgia, with its capital Tbilisi, and on south of  the Caucasus Mountains to Armenia. We are now 6 miles high  in the sky over the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia as we leave Azerbaijan and cross the south-western part of the Caspian  Sea. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – almost unknown to many when they were part of the USSR – now all too familiar as  they appear on our news bulletins from time to time. Iran, also so often on our TV screens, is below, and soon we are above Afghanistan, another of the world’s  troubled places. We fly on over neighbouring  Pakistan, and on into  India. I wonder if I might even catch a glimpse of the mighty Himalayas in the distant north!

Leaving India by the east coast, we reach the Bay of Bengal – the first major stretch of water we cross (a great relief to those of us who wondered about the usefulness of life vests in the event of falling out of the sky over dry land!) The next land we see is the Andaman Islands, of which I was vaguely aware prior to 2004, but since the devastating tsunami on December 26th the name is all too familiar.  Phucket in Thailand – familiar for the same reason- is now to our north as we head along the coast of Thailand  to Malaysia. With 600 odd miles to go I am conscious of clouds outside the windows –  clouds 6 miles high??!  Now in the tropics, we have a good ‘shaking’ as we meet  severe turbulence to remind us that nature rules!  Keeping west of Kuala Lumpur we head for Singapore on the southernmost tip of the peninsula. Dropping down, it is surprising to see so many cargo ships  – dozens and dozens  in rows – lying at anchor in the bay and it is easy to understand that Singapore is one of the top  three busiest seaports in the world! The passenger in the seat next to me wonders if Singapore, being ‘such a small place, will have steps of the proper height’  to allow us to disembark from our plane –  I smile knowing that a surprise awaits her! So, 13 hours after leaving London, we touch down safely at Singapore Changi, in exotic south-east Asia. The airport has a fabulous butterfly garden, flowing water features with exotic orchids everywhere and terrific  facilities for transit passengers.

Refreshed and soon on the way again, we climb into the sky out over the South China Sea  on the final 2,386 miles of the journey to Perth, Western Australia.  We cross the equator into the southern hemisphere as we  head towards Jakarta and across the Indian Ocean.  Some four hours  into the flight,to the  east high above  the west coast of Australia a misty reddish hue appears on the horizon, gradually spreading into turquoise , yellows, oranges and reddish golds. I have met my first  Australian dawn!

At about 4 30 am the sun begins to show on the horizon

Reflections from my aircraft seat as the sun rises over Western Australia

As we get closer to Perth WA, clouds sit above the golden new day.

In another hour, 33 hours after my journey began, I will step out into the Australian heat to meet my family – three generations of them – who have left Ireland for a new life in Australia. For generations, Australia has been a destination for the Irish diaspora-  many forcibly transported to penal colonies there, many emigrating by choice and many, as now , in the midst of an Irish economic depression emigrating through economic necessity in the hope of carving out a better future. Like many another parent, grandparent, brother or sister in Ireland today I have had to say goodbye to 3 of the 4 members of my direct family as they made that great migration across continents, across seas to far- away Australia. I am very fortunate that I have been able to make that long journey of 10,000 miles to visit them, and for  the next while their nearness will be thoroughly enjoyed and the vast distance that separates us will be forgotten!

Yet – in the still of the night, it is still hard to forget that  Australia is just too far away for those of us who have been left behind.

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Irish Australian, Irish Diaspora, Older Generation, Social Change

Titanic 100:Bi-lingual commemorative plaque for Addergoole 14

Addergoole – Ireland’s Titanic Village – is so-called because no fewer than 14 friends and neighbours set sail on the Titanic for a new life in America. 11 of these drowned in the freezing Atlantic waters. (See my earlier post here recounting the extraordinarily moving annual commemoration that takes place in this village in the West of Ireland.)

A commemorative plaque is to be unveiled in Castlebar, the main town in County Mayo, from which the emigrants departed by train. The Addergoole community has been instrumental in ensuring that this plaque be in both the Irish and English languages – a further fitting tribute to their kinsfolk, most of whom spoke only Irish when they left their friends and family on that ill-fated journey, a century ago.
The memory of the Addergoole 14 is indeed in the safe hands of the community that has not forgotten them.

Read the news story here. 

Well done, Addergoole!Another fine example of the excellence and dignity with which your community upholds the memory of your people!

Further Reading:

The Irish Times

Addergoole Titanic Society

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Filed under Ancestry, Emigration from Ireland, Family History, Genealogy, Irish American, Irish Diaspora, Irish Heritage, Mayo Emigrants

Obama in Ireland II: Ancestral Home

It is estimated that  there are about 40 million Americans who claim Irish descent. Hardly surprising then that 20 Presidents of the United States of America can claim to have Irish blood in their veins. President Obama’s Irishness is a relatively recent discovery and came as a surprise to many. There was no hint in his un-Irish surname nor was there any hint of a ruddy Irish complexion!

President John F Kennedy was the first President to come here to visit the home of his ancestors. His grandfather used to tell him stories of Ireland that he in turn had heard from his mother. In all, Kennedy had 8 great grandparents who left Ireland in the mid 1800s as famine gripped the country.

Migration has been a feature of Irish history more than almost any other country in the world. Long before the Famine – from 1600 – Irish people crossed the Atlantic,with considerable numbers leaving from 1720 onwards in a fairly steady stream. These early emigrants were mostly from the northern and eastern counties of Ireland. However, by far the largest numbers to emigrate did so around 1845 during and after the Famine, with huge numbers leaving from the south and west of the country.

Templeharry Church.Place of worship of Kearney Family,Co Offaly.Picture from Discover Ireland

The Kearney family, from who the 44th President Obama is descended, were a relatively prosperous family in Shinrone, and later in Moneygall, in County Offaly, or what used to be King’s County. Wigmakers by profession, the family was part of an extensive family business and later became shoemakers to their local community. There are records to show that the family were active in famine relief in the Moneygall area. A young Fulmuth Kearney left Ireland at the end of the Famine, arriving  in New York in March 1850.The 1870 census records him farming in Indiana, where he died in 1878.

Cullenwaine Churchyard where many of Obama's relatives rest in unmarked graves. Image from Discover Ireland

On St Patrick’s Day 2011 President Obama paid tribute to his ancestors and all people who left this country for a new life: ‘‘Like so many immigrants who came to call this country home, these men and women were guided by a deep faith and an unwavering belief that here in America a better life is available for anybody who’s willing to try. And even though they weren’t always welcomed in their new land, they persevered. They built and led and defended our country while still holding fast to their heritage. And in many ways, what it means to be Irish helped to define what it means to be American.”

On Monday May 23rd 2011, over 160 years after his ancestor left these shores, the most powerful man in the world will visit the tiny rural community where his ancestors lived out their lives. Beidh céad míle fáilte roimhe.

References

Kearney Family History as researched by Eneclann Ltd

Those family historians who are exasperated trying to trace Irish family records will be particularly interested in reading the family history for it shows the difficulties with Irish records and how we need to rely on other sources for information.

The Ancestral Home of Barack Obama blog Know Thy Place 

Discover Ireland Tourism

Ancestors of American Presidents (2009 Edition), Gary Boyd Roberts reviewed here by Sean Murphy 


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Filed under Family History, Genealogy, Ireland, Irish American, Irish Diaspora, Irish History