Irish Heritage Discussion, Part 1 of 4

This is a collection of 65 messages (a thread) saved from the now defunct FidoNet National Genealogical Echo between Jim Curran and myself, as well as a number of other participants discussing Irish/Celtic heritage and history, posted to the echo between July, 1992 and July, 1993, in four parts.

Last updated November 25, 2005.


Msg#:  171 *NGC National*
07-21-1992 14:24:17
To:      ALL

Can anyone enlighten me on how the British government, c. 1848-1850, handled exiles to the US? Were they sent aboard warships, or what? I haven’t been able to find my g-grandfather on any of the passenger lists and have just learned he was an exile.

Patrick Curran and 2 brothers (T.L. and another whose name I do not have yet), were all Young Irelanders in 1848. The Young Irelanders were the rebels of that era. All three were captured, tried, convicted and sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. However, after the intercession of two older brothers, James & Michael who had emigrated in the early 1840’s, the British commuted the sentences of Patrick and T.L. (Terence Louis) to banishment in the US. The other brother, unnamed so far, served his sentence in New South Wales.

If you can shed some light on how they physically arrived here, I would be very grateful.

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat'l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  172 *NGC National*
07-21-1992 14:39:38
To:      ALL

Realized after sending last msg, that I would also be interested if anyone can tell how I would go about finding out if records of the trial exist.

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat’l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  448 *NGC National*
07-22-1992 19:44:53
To:      JIM CURRAN (Rcvd)

Jim, I have several books at home on convicts to Australia and on Irish records. I’ve read all of them cover to cover and know that most of them contain information that may be helpful to you. But the indices, where they exist, aren’t helpful in the least. Please give me a day or three, and I’ll see what I can find.

BTW, there is a unified “convict index” in Australia. I have access to it as a member of the Genealogical Society of Victoria—as soon as I re-up (probably by September). In the meantime, you might want to direct a query specifically to Australia to see if anyone there can look up your (no name) CURRAN. If you don't have access to the Australian echo, I’ll be happy to cross-post it there.

A couple of questions: You say brothers James and Michael “had emigrated in the early 1840’s.” To where, may I ask? To the U.S.?? If so, I’d guess that the Irish court “remanded” Patrick and Terence Louis to the custody of their brothers. In that case, they were probably brought over on a regular passenger vessel (not a “convict ship” or a warship) in the custody of some sort of officer(s) of the court and released to their brothers or their legal representative. Have you checked for them in Atlantic port indexes? I’d also guess that no Irish or English court could exile anyone to the U.S. circa 1850, since we were no longer a colony. More likely, the CURRAN brothers were exiled from Ireland or Great Britain on condition that they never return. Many of the convicts sent to Australia suffered the same sort of exile once their sentences expired.

My interest in Irish convicts and Young Irelanders stems from a possibly apocryphal family story. My great-grandmother, Ellen LANDERS of Cahirciveen, County Kerry, is said to have gone to Australia to find or visit her father, “a political prisoner at Botany Bay.” Ellen arrived in Australia about 1854, which led me to suspect her father might have been a Young Irelander. Too bad—her father’s name continued to appear in Kerry tax records up into the 1870s. And the only Irish convict by the same name as his was a lad of Ellen’s age from Tralee, sentenced to transportation to Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land) for stealing a cow.

BTW, do you know where the CURRAN family was from? At least the county in Ireland?? This will probably help anyone sorting through the convict index in Australia, and will certainly help in your search of Irish records!

Be back to you in a few daze ... Sue Budlong in Falls Church, VA

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat’l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  785 *NGC National*
07-23-1992 15:53:11
To:       SUE BUDLONG (Rcvd)

Was reading your msg about an hour and a half ago when we had a lightning strike. Looks like I fried a modem and God knows what else. Telephones outside the immediate area exchanges was also out. That was a hummer!!!!!

Now have a little more information for you. Don’t know the exact village (my source is moving and all the genealogy stuff is packed), but Currans came from just outside Ennis, Co. Clare. Michael Curran served in the Cornish Rangers in India in the 1830’s. Brother James may have also. The two of them emigrated in 1840 or 41 and may have been latter-day “icebacks.” Family story suggests they may have caught one of the Canadian lumber boats that brought lumber from Canada to England and took back Irishmen rather than be empty on the return trip. Cost was 1 pound if you supplied your own food, 5 pounds if you didn’t. Ships would have docked at Quebec City. Many of these then waited for the St. Lawrence to freeze over and then walked into the U.S.

Whether or not that was their route, they ended up settling in the Keene, NH area (West Swanzy, Manchester). Have been able to find no record of them in any passenger lists.

When brothers Patrick, T.L. & George were captured and convicted, Michael interceded apparently on the basis of his service as a Cornish Ranger. The sentences for Patrick and T.L. were then commuted. I probably used the word “exile” to too generic a sense; your description of what probably happened is excellent. Brother George, however, apparently, ticked the British off too much, because he was forced to serve his sentence in New South Wales.

A cousin, who is a retired doctor, while still active as a doctor, read many medical journals from around the world. Several years ago he read one in the Australian medical journal written by a Dr. George Curran and wondered whether there was connection. Unfortunately, his life was too busy and never followed up on the thought.

***HOWEVER***—would you believe?—my sister who recently retired from teaching has had a vacation planned for many months to—guess where?—Australia! I have already told her that when she’s in Canberra to check for the computer data base of convicts they have there. So I may find something that way. I am also trying to figure out how to get an index of the Australian medical journal for the past 20-25 years and look for Dr. George Curran and write him.

I would very much appreciate taking you up on your offer of putting something on the Australian echo, either (or both) both convict George or Dr. George.

Coming at it from the opposite end, I am wondering about how to get info from the Brits or Irish, such as military records of the Cornish Rangers and any records of the trial that might exist.

Finally, have also checked passenger lists til my eyes have popped out for Patrick & T.L. (Terrence Louis) and have found nothing. They ended up in Clinton, MA in 1850 and had married Manning sisters, Margaret & Mary by 1854. Would the type of vessel you suggest, warship or in custody of officials on a passenger ships, be contained in the normal passenger lists?

Thank you greatly for the excellent, comprehensive answer. I am really out of my depth at this point. This is the first real overseas research I have done and it isn’t even normal sources I am looking for.

I look forward to hearing from you.

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat'l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  2175 *NGC National*
07-27-1992 17:53:00
To:      JIM CURRAN (Rcvd)

Following is a partial reply to your queries. Thought I’d best do it in segments, or I’ll confuse myself, as well as tie up the echo with long messages!

If your sister will have access to the convict index while she’s in Australia, I think this is the best place to start your research about George CURRAN—in Australia AND in Ireland. If she can’t find the information you need, you can write to the Genealogical Society of Victoria as a non-member and for a price ($20 AUS as of May 1990) get the information from them. Based on my query of spring 1990, here’s what you’ll get:

— Name of index in which found. Indexes listed on their form letter were: New South Wales 1788-1842; Tasmania 1803-1853; Western Australia 1850-1868; Victoria “Exiles” 1844-49; and Moreton Bay “Exiles” 1849-50. (The “Exiles” were convicts who had served a probationary period in England and were then pardoned on condition of deportation.)

— Identifying information: Name of convict, place of arrival, date of arrival, and name of ship.

— List of record offices to which to write for further information (for a few more Australian $$), suggested reading list, and names of some record searchers in England and Ireland.

Why do I suggest starting here? From the index citation, you’ll be certain where George was transported to (more on this in a minute). You’ll also know the date of arrival and the ship, from which I can give you the name of the port it sailed from and the date. If you receive the same kind of response from the appropriate record office as I received from Tasmania, you’ll learn the date of his trial and where it was held; what exactly the charges were; where George was “assigned” once he arrived (many convicts were assigned out as servants or laborers to free settlers); any behavior problems that might have resulted in fines or incarceration in Australia; and a full physical description, together with home place, occupation, and names of next of kin. Once you know these things, you’ll be far better prepared to begin research in Ireland!

I’ve never been able to learn much about the Young Irelanders—in particular, I’ve never found a list of who they all were. From a couple of references, I do know that their leaders, including John MITCHEL, were transported to Tasmania, not New South Wales. This would be consistent with the fact that NSW stopped receiving convicts in 1840. The exception was four ships that were sent there between June and December 1849, in a brief attempt at reviving transportation to that colony; these were the only ones that could possibly have transported Young Irelanders. And if you’re speaking specifically of the events of 1848, even that’s unlikely when you consider these ships left home (three from England, one from Dublin) between February and August 1849. A convict was usually tried at a local court or assizes (I’m really not clear on British legal terms!). For George, there’d have been at least one level of appeal, which would have necessitated the gathering of letters and petitions.

>> more in next message <<

--- Maximus 2.00
* Origin: CPAFUG BBS (1:109/422)


Msg#:  2176 *NGC National*
07-27-1992 17:55:00
To:      JIM CURRAN (Rcvd)

>> message continues <<

Then, once the final sentence was determined, a prisoner was usually sent to a home-based prison or to the hulks for several months to a couple of years before being shipped out. The authorities may have expedited the Young Ireland sentencing process because it was poli­tically sensitive, but my feeling is that George was much more likely to have gone to Tasmania or Western Australia than to New South Wales. Even deportation as an “Exile” would need to have occurred before 1850. “New South Wales” was often used generically in referring to Aus­tralia, probably because it was the first penal colony established there and because it received the largest number of convicts.

In Ireland, the Convict Reference Files and Transportation Registers are kept at the State Paper Office in Dublin Castle. I’ll see if I can find an exact address, but you’ll probably want the above-cited information before you write to them. One place you might try now is the Clare Heritage Centre, which seems to have the largest collec­tion of any of the heritage centers. My sources indicate it has a good newspaper collection. Evidently some trials were covered in the press; I gather that Ennis and espe­cially Limerick had several newspapers during the period you're interested in. Again, I’ll go through my sources for the address, or you can ask on this echo or the European one whenever it’s back to two-way operation.

Jan Worthington, an Australian genealogist, told me at the NGS Conference in 1990 that there’s a monument somewhere in Ireland with the names of “all the Irish political prisoners.” She’d just been on a whirlwind tour of Ireland on her way here for the conference, and thought the monument was in Kilkenny. If you'll post or send me your mailing address, I'll send you hers, along with the others mentioned above.

As to the Cornish Rangers, this would be a British force—Army? I’m not the best person to ask on this subject, but will look through my papers and see what I might have. Again, you’d do best to post a query on the European echo once we have a reliable link reestablished, or try a specific query here.

As for passenger lists for British warships entering American ports—gee, I really can’t say. The picture sorta boggles my mind. You should know that the majority of “convict transports” were merchant ships chartered by the Admiralty and fitted out to carry convicts—usually on only one or two voyages during their lifetime. Only a few British naval vessels were used for convicts, and most of those were in the early years of transportation. I’d assume that Patrick and T.L. should appear on the passenger lists—unless they were on one of those ships for which the lists are missing! Maybe their convict files (in Ireland) will give the date they were “exiled,” and possibly the name of the ship.

On to Michael and James. I’ve heard of the Canadian lumber transport method of arrival and have assumed it may have been the means taken by one of my ancestral families, who arrived in upstate New York between 1829 and 1832. Or again, they may have been on one of the ships whose passenger lists are missing. I’ve had a very poor success record searching passenger lists! Have you checked all the Atlantic ports? — Outta space, back later! Oh, yeah, in case of need, my address is ———, Falls Church, VA

--- Maximus 2.00
* Origin: CPAFUG BBS (1:109/422)


Msg#:  2354 *NGC National*
07-28-1992 09:34:08
To:      SUE BUDLONG (Rcvd)

Fantastic!! I can’t tell you how pleased I am. (My terminal has suddenly decided to go into half duplex mode, so I hope you get this properly.)

I can’t thank you enough for the all the leads you have provided. On top of the startling news about Patrick & T. L., this is a God-send.

My mailing address:

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat’l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  4464 *NGC National*
08-01-1992 03:38:00

SB> Jan Worthington, an Australian genealogist, told me at the
SB> NGS Conference in 1990 that there’s a monument somewhere
SB> in Ireland with the names of “all the Irish political prisoners.”
SB> She’d just been on a whirlwind tour of Ireland on her way here
SB> for the conference, and thought the monument was in Kilkenny.
SB> If you’ll post or send me your mailing address, I’ll send you hers,
SB> along with the others mentioned above.

I saw this post and was wondering if you would send me a list of the addresses too? I don’t know if my Samuel MOORE and Mary FINLEY MOORE were part of this........the story passed down from the family line is they left because of the potato famine. My uncle says there were two diffent decades for the famine.....1820-? and 1840-? Is that true?

Thanks for just listening

My address is:
Judith Jasper
Augusta, Ga.

--- FMail 0.90
* Origin: The Far Side BBS - Martinez, Ga. (706)868-9726 (1:360/17)


Msg#:  4517 *NGC National*
08-03-1992 16:53:06

Unfortunately, you replied to the wrong person; you should have addressed your reply to Sue Budlong who was the one that provided such an amazing amount of info. She offered me the list of addresses and I hope to receive them shortly. I will forward them on if and when I receive them. However, you might want to leave a note for her directly. She deserves some recognition for the comprehensive replies (or should I say educations?). In fact, I have noticed some notes from her to other people, and, in every case, she has gone out of her way to be helpful. Way, way beyond the call of duty.

On the questions of famines: I have a little info for you there. From 1820 to 1849 there were a dozen potato (notice no “e’) famines in Ireland. Most tended to be localized and, although it really doesn’t matter if they’re local if you’re starving, don’t get the attention that others do. There was a very serious general crop failure in 1825-26 (if I remmeber the dates correctly). But the true horror of potato famine didn’t come upon the consiousness of the world until the Great Famine of the 1840’s. Actually, this was 3 separate famines: 1845-46, 1846-47 & 1848-49.

The Famines were caused by a fungus “phythophera infestans” that turned potatoes to mush overnight and spread from field to field like a wildfire. The tenant Irish had Sir Walter Raleigh to thank for introducing the potato to Ireland. Landlords, usually absentee, found the potato a particularly useful tool to deal with their tenants.

  1. The potato needed relatively little land to grow.
  2. It required little cultivation, skill or care.
  3. It, particlarly the “lumper” variety used in Ireland, was *VERY* cheap.
  4. When supplemented by buttermilk, potatoes were capable of providing of nutritional enough diet for the Irish to survive.

As a result, the Irish lived from one year to the next with little else other than salt. Unfortunately, the climate of Ireland is extremely conducive to the germination and growth of the fungus. The Great Famine killed anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million Irish. Almost as many emigrated in that period, with over 50% of the emigrants sailing in ships of English registry dying in the “coffin ships.” Sidelight: of all the people born in Ireland since 1820, 50% have emigrated. Ireland today is the only country in the Western world (and possibly the whole world) that has a smaller population than it did in 1840.

Relationship to Young Irelanders: Up to the time of the Great Famine, the Catholic Irish made their greatest gains towards freedom through the constitutional means of the Great Liberator, Daniel O’Connell who had brought about Catholic Emancipation in 1829. However, the Great Famine truly uncovered the gross uncaring of the English as they let millions die to justify their laissez faire & property rights attitudes. Thus arose the Young Irelanders who tended to be, but were not exclusively Protestant, at least in their leadership ranks. There are many questions about their goals and methods to this day, but basically they were radical revolutionaries much in the mold of the many other revolutionary movements of 1848, even the one in England, the only difference being that their issues were Irish issues. The rebellion, such as it was, fell apart, and the leaders were transported for involvement in the movement.

Running out of time. Let me know if you want to hear more. TTYL.

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat’l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  6328 *NGC National*
08-06-1992 01:30:00

That was great! it confirms what I have found and lists a lot more. Thanks! I am sorry I directed the message to you.....when it was meant for someone else. I do that occasionally, as I can’t figure out how to get my pick list to reflect both parties of the message I am quoting. Oh, goodness. Thanks again!

--- FMail 0.90
* Origin: The Far Side BBS - Martinez, Ga. (706)868-9726 (1:360/17)


Msg#:  5759 *NGC National*
08-06-1992 17:27:21

Here’s a continuation of my previous note about Young Irelanders & the Famine:

To truly understand the horror of the Famine and its rela­tionship to the Young Irelanders, you have to understand that the ***ONLY*** crop that failed was the potato crop. Throughout the Great Famine, Ireland produced enough foodstuffs of other kinds to feed the total population of Ireland twice over.

But English policy was to export thse other foodstuffs to England and reserve only the potato for the Irish. So the Irish died as a wealth of food was taken from their own lands and tranported to the docks of Cork, Dublin and Wexford, etc.

Why didn’t the Irish just keep the food and not starve? Because of the absentee landlord policies of rack-renting and eviction created a no-win situation for the tenants. Rack-renting demanded a rent for the land that exceeded the value of the goods produced on that land. So tenants always operated on a deficit basis, if they were able to keep their lands at all. Rents were collected twice a year, and, if not paid, the tenant was immediately evicted or kept on the land, if it suited the landlord’s (or his agent’s) purposes. If the tenant stayed, he dared not do or say anything that went against the landlord. If evicted (and often blackballed) and unable to rent another piece of land at an extortionate rent, he and his family died unless they were able to emigrate. Above all this was the fact that the land produced more income for the landlord if it were put to sheep pasturage. So it behooved the landlord to maximize his profit by “clearing the land,” i.e., evicting his own tenants. Who were the tenants? Primarily Catholics who lived out their lives on the brink of penury and starvation. People in this condition in general don’t start revolutions; they may man them, but they don't start them. They’re too busy trying to stay alive.

So who started the revolutions? The surprising answer in Ireland is the Protestants! Up to the Easter Rising of 1916, and with the exception of Daniel O’Connell in 1810-1840, all leaders of Irish rebellions were Protestant. However, the term Protestant, in the context of Ireland, needs some explanation because there were two major groupings: the Church of Ireland (Episcopalian) and all other Protestant faiths, known as Dissenters. Dissenters received almost as bad treatment from the English as the Catholics. Only Church of Ireland members prospered in Ireland. In fact, every Irishman, no matter what his faith, had to tithe to the Church of Ireland for several centuries. The mistreatment of Dissenters is what led to the whole­sale emigration of the Scots-Irish in the 1700’s and early 1800’s. And it is this background that fueled our own Revolution. I have seen estimates that suggest as much as 65% of Washington’s army were either born in Ireland or were of Irish extraction. Just look at a list of the Presidents who are of Irish extraction and you will start to understand the impact of English policies in Ireland.

Up to 1845, very few Catholic Irish emigrated, and the emigration of Scots-Irish had pretty much died. The Famine started wholesale emigration of the Catholics that led to the “No Irish Need Apply” syndrome experienced in this country at the end of the century.

Another result of the Famine was the death of Gaelic Ireland. Up to 1850, the majority of the country was Gaelic, speaking the Gaelic language and following Gaelic customs. In an act of utter revulsion and guilt, Catholic Irish believed God was punishing them with the Famine and they overthrew virtually all of their own customs and usages. By 1860, with the exception of a few Gaelic-speaking areas in the West of Ireland (notably Connemara, Co. Clare & the far reaches of Co. Donegal), Gaelic society disappeared, not to reappear (in a very anaemic form) until the 1890’s with the Gaelic Revival.

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat’l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  5760 *NGC National*
08-06-1992 17:28:21

All this to answer a very short, supposedly simple question:  Would Famine emigres be the same people as Young Irelanders?  The answer is a resounding “NO!”   Not that their interests weren’t often the same; it’s just that they came from totally different social and cultural classes. Famine emigrés in that period were almost 100% Catholic who had spent their lives barely keeping themselves alive. Young Irelanders, on the other hand, including those transported for involvement in the movement, were, for the most part, Protestants. The Young Irelanders tended to be more well-off, were almost surely not tenant farmers, and adhered to a British society and culture rather than a Gaelic. While their movement was prompted in some degree by the horrors of the Famine, they were moved more by the centuries old history of abuses of the English against Ireland.

So much for my soapbox. I hope you enjoyed it.

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat’l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


Msg#:  7411 *NGC National*
08-09-1992 12:37:00
To:      JIM CURRAN (Rcvd)

Jim, I enjoyed reading your posts about the Irish through the various eras. I learned a good bit from your mentioning actual counties and locations, etc.

Best Regards, Elsie

--- msged 2.07
* Origin: Bethesda MD 20817-6057 (1:109/356.3563)


Msg#:  8850 *NGC National*
08-11-1992 10:18:00

Thank you for your very kind comments. My Irish heritage has become very important to me and I have devoted exceptional amounts of time, love and effort to learning as much as I can about Irish history. So much so that I now give talks on Ireland and have written two shows about Ireland; the first deals with emigration and the second with the problems of Northern Ireland.

It should be obvious that I equally love sharing my information about Ireland and appreciate any request for enlightenment. There are so many misconceptions and just plain bad information about Ireland that I often feel driven to get on a soapbox. I come from from a rare, but long and honorable, Irish tradition: the green Protestant. My families are roughly 55% Catholic and 45% Protestant and I myself am Presbyterian with strong leanings to Methodism because of my wife’s family. I think I bring an unusual, close to unique, perspective to discussion of Irish issues. I view them from a humanist, human- and civil-rights position and it is amazing what is uncovered when you do. The propaganda and violence of the British government in Ireland, the Protestant groups of N. I. and the IRA are equally aborhent and are destroying a land of great beauty, grace and friendliness.

I am waxing poetic this morning, because, in addition to your very kind comments, I read with total satisfaction and amazement at its long-overdue nature in this morning’s paper that the British government has finally banned the Ulster Defence Assocation (UDA), the premier Protestant paramilitary and terrorist organization. If they had only shown such fortitude 20 years ago when it might have achieved something lasting in the way of peace.

Thank you again. If there are other aspects of Ireland you’re interested in, let me know. I enjoy immensely writing about Ireland.

--- QuickBBS 2.75
* Origin: Jack’s Genealogy Emporium - (703)373-8215 (1:274/30)


Msg#:  9415 *NGC National*
08-12-1992 14:13:00

Have been thinking about our series of notes on Famine / Young Irelanders and realized my approach in the previous notes had been extremely pedantic . . . not my usual style. So I thought you might like a small piece of my show from the segment about the Famine. That segment ends with the following:

With their only food turning to slime before their very eyes, no one had to be told that all the great and simple purposes of existence were soon to be forgotten in the oncoming struggle with Death.

And the Irish died. 1.5 to 2 million died as they lived, servile. Nursing babies died first. Their mothers died soon after. Eventually even the strongest died. Often the last to die were the children for whom their parents had sacrificed their own food. They died alone. They died as families. They died on the roads. They died in the fields. They died in their homes. They died with the distended bellies of starvation and they died with grass stains on their lips while all around them non-potato crops sufficient to feed them twice over were reserved for export to England.

The Irish died. Gaelic Ireland died.

Now if that doesn’t spoil your day, I’ve missed my mark.

--- Maximus 2.01wb
* Origin: The Skeleton Closet BBS, Virginia Beach, VA (1:271/23)


Msg#:  6664 *NGC National*
08-15-1992 05:31:00
To:      JIM CURRAN (Rcvd)

==> Quoting Jim Curran to Elsie Savell <==
JC> Thank you for your very kind comments. My Irish
JC> heritage has become very important to me and I
JC> have devoted exceptional amounts of time, love, and
JC> effort to learning as much as I can about Irish history.

Jim, I, too, have been reading with interest your messages on the Irish. My g.grandmother, Ellen Mary (Clark) Monsees, emigrated from Ireland to America between the years 1871-74, and I believe that she or her family became ashamed that she was from Ireland. I base this on the 4 public records I have found on her. The first two, the 1880 New York City Soundex census and the birth certificate of my grandmother, dated 1885, show that my g.grandmother was b. in Ireland, but the other 2 records I have on her, the 1920 New York City census and her death certificate, show that she was b. in the U.S. I think it must have been common for the Irish to hide their nationality since there was so much antagonism toward them, caused mostly by the fact that when they came to this country, they often took jobs away from others, when they were hired as strike breakers. This carried over to the next generations. Once my mother was telling me how her grandmother, Ellen Monsees, would sit on her front porch and entertain the young people in the neighborhood with stories. My mother said her grandmother could speak with an Irish brogue, but then my mother said in a hushed voice, “but she didn’t speak like that all the time,” indicating to me that she felt an Irish brogue was something to be ashamed of. Yet I’m certain Ellen Monsees was an Irish Catholic, as she was buried in a Roman Catholic cemetery in New York and the church where my grandparents were married was a Roman Catholic church, which is in the same neighborhood where my g.grandmother lived.

Actually, one should be proud to be Irish. I’ve read that they were the first people of the British Isles to be converted to Christianity and that if it wasn’t for the Irish monks, a great many old manuscripts would have been destroyed during the Norsemen’s raids in the Middle Ages. Irish monks saved many documents that are an important part of our Western civilization. Also the Irish were the first to use surnames, and where would we genealogists be without surnames to research, huh? In addition, some of the greatest writers in the English language who ever lived were Irish, such as James Joyce, author of “Ulysses” said by some to be the greatest novel ever written. So even though my dad was angry with me one time as a child when I was glad it was St. Patrick’s Day, since I was part Irish, and he said I wasn’t, I know better now and am not ashamed to be Irish.

... Sit down--you’re rocking the boat
~~~ Blue Wave/RA v2.05 [NR]
--TosScan (q) 1.00
* Origin: TMS/JFF Here! Roots Cellar Too! 303-770-3217 (1:104/330)


Msg#:  9062 *NGC National*
08-16-1992 16:25:00
To:      JIM CURRAN (Rcvd)

JC> Another result of the Famine was the death of Gaelic Ireland.
JC> Up to 1850, the majority of the country was Gaelic, speaking
JC> the Gaelic language and following Gaelic customs. In an act of
JC> utter revulsion and guilt, Catholic Irish believed God was punishing
JC> them with the Famine and they overthrew virtually all of their own
JC> customs and usages. By 1860, with the exception of a few Gaelic-
JC> speaking areas in the West of Ireland (notably Connemara, Co. Clare
JC> & the far reaches of Co. Donegal), Gaelic society disappeared, not
JC> to reappear (except in a very anaemic form) until the 1890's with
JC> the Gaelic Revival.
JC>   All this to answer a very short, supposedly simple question: Would

Wordy, aren’t we, GRIN! I enjoyed reading that...not the travail of my ancestors....but being able to identify with them. My grandma spoke Gaelic.....I am sure. For she spoke a strange mixture of foreign and American language. When I started teachers were mystified at my speach. I had major speech problems. I spoke with an Irish accent....and had picked up a lot of grandma’s strange idioms......I had to go through speech therapy for three years. I couldn’t say came out ern or something of the sort. I got in trouble for trying to tell the teacher I cut my knee with an axe....don’t ask....hee hee, just that word came out. Now I sound so southern, I go back home and they ask me what part of the south am I from. I always tell them, south Lancaster.......south west to be exact. GRIN! But I always loved to listen to my grandma talk. Wish I’d had a tape recorder back then. Kinda makes me feel homesick, when I hear an Irish brogue. Course, I imagine it wasn’t strictly Irish....if greatgrandma Mary really came from Scotland.

--- FMail 0.90
* Origin: The Far Side BBS - Martinez, Ga. (706)868-9726 (1:360/17)


Msg#:  6501 *NGC National*
08-18-1992 08:48:00
To:      JIM CURRAN (Rcvd)

jim, i wonder if you’re using the word ‘died’ and ‘die’ too often... if you get a chance look for The American Experience episode on the irish shown on PBS. the narrator has a grand style... :-)

--- FMail 0.90
* Origin: Windsor Amateur Radio Union (203)298-9989 (1:142/100)


Msg#  6449 *NGC National*
08-18-1992 09:26:00

JC> activist (non-violent!!!!!) for Irish causes and I am
JC> continually shaken by the lack of knowledge and
JC> misconceptions about the Irish situation that exist in
JC> this country. But I am appalled by the unwillingness of
JC> most people I meet to learn anything differently.

I follow all your messages. All of my ancestors and those of my wife except 1 came from IRELAND. They are believed to have arrived between 1825 and 1880. I am certain that they did not wish to leave their extended families and travel under the most trying conditions on a long sea voyage to a new land where they were to be discriminated against and persecuted. In a letter from a 2d cousin in CASHEL, she mentioned that pictures I had seen of a cottage where my grandmother lived didn’t show their original home. They had been ‘driven’ from their property in what she refers to as ‘THE’ war. I have to find out what she means by ‘THE’ When I found them on the 1901 census, the family (6 of them and a boarder) were living in a small cottage with one doorway and two small windows. The townland they were living in was largely ‘owned’ by an Englishman. His household was distinguished by the number and size of its buildings. I also had a gggfather, Thomas SMITH from CAVAN whose original name of McGOWAN had been changed by decree in an attempt to anglicize the IRISH. he was a “famine’ imm.

... These are but 2 of the reasons I am expending so much effort writing a family history based largely on the lives of those ancestors. My children are aware of their heritage. I write it down as I go since there is too much to remember.

... I have found that most Americans are not well-versed in history. Their knowledge starts with the year they reached puberty. I am a history addict, thus genealogy. My father’s family was not one to ever discuss life in the homeland. His 89 yr old sister says they never talked about family. A lot of what I found in US death certificates and obituaries turned out to be erroneous guesses. But, what I learned the last few years has enlightened me. I have a book ‘THE STORY OF THE IRISH RACE’ by Seumas MacMANUS. Though it is slow reading, I pick it up again and again. The story of the famine years is particularly distresssful.

...The integration of those of IRISH descent in the US with those of other ethnic origins has been so extensive that they are now 1/4 this and 1/8 that, and so on. My cousins and their descendants have intermarried with Polish, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Slovak, etc. The IRISH surname remains in only a few cases. My name comes from DELAMARE, a Norman knight, given land in WESTMEATH by William the Conqueror. Through intermarriage, they gradually were assimilated into the population, lost the land, and later mistreated equally with the native inhabitants.

--- MAXIMUS 2.01wb
* Origin: Flower City Central, Rochester, NY 716-889-2016 (1:260.204)


Msg#:  6742 *NGC National*
08-21-1992 10:46:19

The effect was deliberate. I was a little concerned about it at first, but the three times it has been performed since that section was rewritten have met with an incredible response. The emphasis was to underline in no uncertain terms the overall effect of the Famine and the fact that the lives it ended were only a small part of the terrible death and tragedy attending the Famine. Individual families were destroyed and larger families disappeared from the face of the earth. A whole way of life disintegrated and was reviled by precisely those who had so honored it only a few years before. A nation was crippled in a fashion whose effects are still felt today in very real, personal terms. Depending on whose estimates you use or believe, (and BTW that is a symptom of the disruption: they could neither name nor count nor list their dead) in excess of 20% of the nation died from the direct effects of the Famine, another 10 to 20% died in ensuing years from Famine-related debilities and sicknesses, and worst of all, an additional 20-25% of the population, its best and brightest, those best able to survive the effects of the Famine and best able to help the nation recover from its nightmare of death, emigrated, never to return in the years immediately following the Famine.

While I understand your statement, I disagree with it violently. And using McKee’s “History of Ireland” as a model of how it should be done is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. While McKee attempted to be fair, and was remarkably successful in many places, the fact remains that his attitudes and perspectives are those of an Englishman and they show through in every segment.

Maybe a short description of the “American wake” will put my use of “died” in a more Irish perspective for you. The Irish from time immemorial “waked” the dead. This ceremony, which ended up more often than not in a party, consisted primarily of staying up with the corpse of the dead person to keep away evil spirits from stealing the soul before God could gather the dead person to him. It contained exceptionally large doses of both devout Christianity and paganism. After the Famine, the wake was used to celebrate the leave-taking of the emigrants and during the two generations after the Famine became a tradition-laden fact of Irish life. Unlike most other emigrant groups, particularly of that time, the Irish emigrated singly, not as family units. The primary reason was the cost; they were too poor to afford passage for more than one person in a family at a time. In fact, each emigrant was expected to send back money to bring the next member of the family; this was called “bringing the greenhorn.” The wake for the emigrant became known as the “American wake.” And the process contained among other things, prayers, tears, keening and treating the emigrant as a dead person. As macabre as it may seem, an “American wake” was considered a great honor by an emigrant. He was honored while he still lived and was shown tremendous respect.

I hope this might clarify somewhat where I am coming from.

--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Nat’l Genealogical Society, Arlington VA 703-528-2612 (1:109/302)


[BULLET] Part 2 of Irishness
[BULLET] Part 3 of Irishness
[BULLET] Part 4 of Irishness (some recommended books & epilogue)
[BULLET] List of 850+ Irish Surnames from Irish Tourist Board brochure
[BULLET] List of Recommended Genealogical Publications on Irish Ancestry