As many of you know, I have spent the majority of my writing time since the 2013 publication of The Irish in the American Civil Warconcentrating on one major source for the Irish experience of 19th century America, namely the widows and dependent pension files of Union soldiers and sailors. It soon became my intention to develop this material into a book, though I struggled for a long time to develop a structure and layout I was happy with (always the most difficult part of any book project). Having finally overcome "Difficult Second Album Syndrome," I submitted the manuscript to my publishers a few months ago. This week I received both the final page proofs and the finalised cover art forThe Forgotten Irish, which I thought I would share with readers, many of whom have been instrumental in both assisting with my research and in encouraging my endeavours. It is also an opportune time to outline the contents of the book, which is due for release in Ireland around November 2016, and hopefully will become available in the United States not too long after that.
The premise behind the book is to demonstrate how we can use the widows and dependent pension files, in conjunction with other sources such as census, military and emigration records, to build a partial picture of the lives of individual Irish emigrant families. Though the material was created as a consequence of the American Civil War, the focus of many of the chapters is not on the conflict, but other aspects of the lives of those left behind. It is my contention that the files offer us the best opportunity to examine in close detail the experiences of Irish emigrants across the second half of the 19th century (and indeed into the 20th). In many instances, these emigrants describe their lives to us in their own words. Another important element of the book was to demonstrate that the American Civil War had a major impact on people in Ireland; to that end, many of the chapters 'follow' families back and forth across the Atlantic, and indeed a number of the pension recipients covered both lived and died in Ireland. To provide readers with some more information, I have included the description on the book cover (the 'blurb') below, together with the section and chapter headings, to give a flavour of its contents.
THE FORGOTTEN IRISH
Irish Emigrant Experiences in America
On the eve of the American Civil War, 1.6 million Irish-born people were living in the United States. The majority had emigrated to the major industrialised cities of the North; New York alone was home to more than 200,000 Irish, one in four of the total population. As a result, thousands of Irish emigrants fought for the Union between 1861 and 1865. The research for this book has its origins in the widows and dependent pension records of that conflict, which often included not only letters and private correspondence between family members, but unparalleled accounts of their lives in both Ireland and America. The treasure trove of material made available comes, however, at a cost. In every instance, the file only exists due to the death of a soldier or sailor. From that as its starting point, coloured by sadness, the author has crafted the stories of thirty-five Irish families whose lives were emblematic of the nature of the Irish nineteenth-century emigrant experience.
ONE– WIVES AND PARENTS
The death of a spouse or child as a result of military service has a profound impact on all those left behind. For some Irish emigrant families, the loss was an event that irretrievably altered their futures, casting a long and dominant shadow over them in the years to come. For others, it represented another hardship in what was already a struggle for survival. 'Wives and Parents' examines the stories of both.
The Garvins: Limerick and New York
The Murphys: Monaghan and Illinois
The Donohoes: Galway and Massachusetts
The Coyles: Donegal and Pennsylvania
The Kennedys: Offaly and Ohio
The Ridgways: Dublin and Washington DC
The Duricks: Tipperary and Vermont
The Galvins and Horans: Roscommon, Kerry and Massachusetts
TWO– COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY
The widows and dependent files offer us much more than details on the American Civil War. In their pages can be found the social history of families across decades. In 'Community and Society' we see how chain migration could influence people from the same parish across multiple generations, or tempt groups of skilled local workers to relocate across the Atlantic. We follow the lives of families from their origins in Ireland– where some suffered personal loss in the Great Famine– to new but not necessarily better futures in the United States.
The O'Donnells: Donegal and Pennsylvania
The Keegans: Wicklow and Pennsylvania
The Delaneys: Laois and Pennsylvania
The Bowlers: Cork and New York
The Madigans: Kerry and New York
The Conways: Offaly and New York
The Dalys: Kildare and New York
The Nugents: Dublin and Illinois
The Murrays: Dublin, Down and New York
The Martins: Derry and New York
THREE– A LIFE IN LETTERS
There are few more powerful echoes of the past than the letters left behind by those who experienced it. The widows and dependents pension files of Irish-Americans contain thousands of them. When combined with the wider story of a family's experience, this correspondence can offer an additional emotional layer to our understanding of their story.
The Kellys: Galway and Massachusetts
The Finans: Sligo and New York
The Welchs: Ireland and Maine
The McIntyres: Ireland and Pennsylvania
The Sharkeys: Ireland and New York
The Tiernans: Roscommon and New York
The Carrs: Derry, New York and Illinois
The Devlins: Tyrone and Indiana
The Mangans: Dublin and Illinois
FOUR– A DEATH IN LETTERS
The central event that ties all the widows and dependents files together– and led to their creation– is the death of a soldier. 'A Death in Letters" focuses on this event as it was experienced by eight different families.
You can read the history of the QLD Irish Association by clicking above.
This was one of the earliest entries in TROVE for the Queensland Irish Association, note that at that time, they were meeting in Queen Street, Brisbane. The President was Mr. Thos. (Thomas) O'Sullivan.
In 1916, other matters were taking the attention of the world. Still, a St. Patrick's Day dinner went ahead... with an interesting apology for non attendance... still, the dinner attracted 330 attendees.
Sadly, the Queensland Irish Club is no more. There are numerous articles on the website and on Google for you to read the details. It has been a large part of Queensland and in particular, Brisbane's Irish history. Will it rise again, wiull the beautiful Tara ballroom remain intact? The answers are still unknown. I am so glad that I have had the chance to build my own experiences with the Irish Club.
Maybe, just maybe, it will rise again.
I will leave you with just a few photos of The Irish Club, from one of the Blarney Bunch Lunches.
Trove offers numerous articles on the various orders of nuns and the priests who were involved in establishing many convents, schools and Orders throughout Australia, most of the nuns came from Ireland.
Learn of the traditional culture, arts, language and literature that County Clare is renowned for during the weeklongWillie Clancy Summer School from the 2nd - 10th July.
The Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is Ireland's largest traditional music Summer School. During the week, students from every part of the world attend daily classes taught by experts in Irish music and dance. In addition, a full program of lectures, recitals, dances and exhibitions are run by the Summer School.
If dancing is more your thing visit theArmada Hotelin Spanish Point where there is a10-day programmeofset dancing sessionsandcountry music dancingscheduled to coincide with the Willie Clancy Festival.
The Streets of Ennis Come Alive in July
At the 11th annual Ennis Street Arts Festival the streets of Ennis will come alive with fun, art, culture and entertainment provided by International, National and Local Artists from the 4th - 10th July. This year the theme is 'Clare-County of Culture' so expect lots of ceol and culture.
Dancing at the Crossroads
Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann will host its Annual Céilí at the Crossroads Festival Clarecastlefrom 10th July - 17th July. Highlight events include a concert on Sunday 10th July by Ann Droney Kirrane with her band and the Céilí Mór with Star of Munster Céilí Band at Abbey Hall on Saturday 16th July.
July Comhaltas Summer Seisiúin
Enjoy a stage show showcasing the best of local traditional music, singing and storytelling followed by an informal session with audience participation encouraged.
The Scarriff Harbour Festivaloffers a varied programme of activities, arts, music and entertainment inspired by the "lake" theme. Simply purchase a wrist band and enjoy live entertainment including the 'Kilfenora Céilí Band', 'Tommy Fleming', 'Something Happens' and 'Hudson Taylor' to name a few.
Something 'Fishy' in Doonbeg
TheDoonbeg Seafood Festival celebrates the great local seafood tradition in the area. Events include open air fish market, cookery demonstrations & tastings, crab fishing competition, duck race and live music in the local bars. A highlight of the weekend is always the 'Queen of the Sea' Competition.
Laugh a Minute in Kilmihil
Kilmihil Festival of Fun is Ireland's only festival which is completely dedicated to fun and making you smile. Highlight events include the famous pig races, the colourful cultural parade, the lakeside bbq and the Dan O'Halloran 10km fun run and cycle. All events are family friendly and designed to make you smile.