A Letter from Ireland:

Did your Irish Ancestor leave Ireland between 1848 and 1950?


When did your Irish Ancestor leave Ireland? In my own case, 5 of my uncles left for a better life – but when I look at our extended family starting in 1874 – over 75% moved or are currently living outside Ireland!

We visited Cobh (pronounced Cove) in Cork today – a lovely spring day – and took this picture. Its a statue of Annie Moore who was the first immigrant to the United States to pass through the Ellis Island facility in New York. She is standing with her brothers roughly where your ancestors would have left the Port of Cobh (or Queenstown as it was known for a time).

Cobh was the last port for 2.5 of the six million Irish people who went to North America between 1848 and 1950. Annie Moore arrived from Cobh on the ship Nevada on January 1, 1892 and was accompanied by her young brothers Phillip and Anthony – her parents had already settled in the United States in 1888.

And now, a total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in 2008 recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Irish ancestry population in the United States is roughly six times the modern population of Ireland.

When we look at all the people around the world who claim Irish ancestry – it rounds up to about 100 million people – more than fifteen times the population of the whole Island of Ireland, which had approximately 6.4 million in 2011.

If you visit the heritage museum on Ellis Island today, you will find a sister statue to this one in Cobh.

When did your Irish Ancestor leave Ireland – was it from the port of Queenstown (Corbh) in County Cork?

  • When they came escaping from the famine to New York and Boston they were hated by the same people who ruined there lives in Ireland. They took the worst jobs , lived in horrible conditions but never gave up. History now knocks Boss Tweed and the irish who found politics to be there way out of the slums. They might not have been to the liking of the Protestant elite but they took care of there own. My grandparents after coming from Longford lived in cold water flats on the West side in New York. My father went to work on the docks at 14 yrs. old. Today most there there grandchildren and great grandchildren no more are living in cold water flats or on the docks at 14. God bless the Irish and God bless America.

  • Madilyn says:

    My Irish ancestors emigrated during the potato famine years. That’s a wonderful statue. Has anyone traced the story of Annie Moore and her brothers? I wonder how she fared in America, if she stayed in New York or went to another state. Amazing that the Irish ancestry population in the U.S. is 6x the modern population of Ireland. Also amazing (and very cool) how many people around the world claim Irish heritage!

    • Mike says:

      Yep – Madilyn – you can read more of Annie Moores story on Wikipedia. It is quite amazing on Irish heritage around the world – all from such a small place!

    • Madelyn says:

      Same here. My family came to South Africa and did very very well for themselves! Their surname were Tustin. Would have loved to know if I still had family there.

  • Peg says:

    My Maternal grandmother’s Ellis Island record:
    Associated Passenger: Mary Gaughan
    Date of Arrival: Jul 03, 1923
    Name of Ship: Franconia (1923)

    She left out of Liverpool.

  • Joan says:

    My Paternal grandmother, Ellen Farrell, Longford, came Nov 4, 1846 from Cobh. Her sister Margaret (twin?) came with her. Married Amos Hoxsie.

  • David Vuckson says:

    My 2x great-grandparents left for the New World from Dublin to Liverpool, Liverpool to New York, New York to Canada in the summer of 1844.

  • Ellie Watson says:

    Some of mine came in 1848. Was it the potato famine? One was given money by his father, and he in turn talked his friend into coming by paying his way. His friend’s family shows up in a later census and marriages. But, currently, William’s wife died in Chicago of cholera. She was very young, newly married, and newly arrived in a strange country. Poor child. That cholera devastated Chicago in 1850. Some Irish were diverted to Canada if cholera was detected on the ship. How relevant to our current pandemic. Keeps going on.

  • Naomi R. says:

    My Great Grandfather, John McGaw, came to America from Ireland, but Ihave no details of his travel. I understand that he was from Rathfriland in County Down, Ireland. I do know that he married my American Great Grandmother around 1915. I would appreciate any tips or guidance toward learning more about him, family members…anything really.

  • Dervella Tierney says:

    My Grandfather left Donegal 1911 he landed in Ellis Island
    His name was Joseph O Malley
    Great uncle left Co Roscommon
    His Timothy Flanagan

  • Robert McComas-Wood says:

    My family both patriarchal and matriarchal left Ireland during the Famine years. Mary Kelly was from Roscommon, Strokestown.
    Patrick John Kane/Cain was from Scarthorn according to the records I have found. I’ve never been able to locate Scarthorn. If some knows of it or can provide a direction to locate it I would deeply appreciate the assistance.

  • Eileen says:

    Would they have left Cork by ship to go to London in 1840’s too?

  • Diane Palmer says:

    Ancestors Daley family from Cork. Wonderful family!

  • Gailene says:

    My Irish ancestors left Ireland in 1840 before the famine years. They came to Quebec, Canada. My 3 rd. Grandfather Robert Nelson from Donegal settled in Quebec, but my 2nd. Grandfather moved to Minnesota about 1856. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War. My Nelson family eventually moved up into Canada .

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