Study Day at Maynooth
Organised by the Department of History, the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM), the study day was called The Gathering: Local History, Heritage and Diaspora.
The Gathering: Local History, Heritage & Diaspora
Saturday 24 November 2012 (9:30am – 4:00pm)
Renehan Hall, Maynooth University (south campus)
Organised by the Department of History, National University of Ireland Maynooth
The conference was of interest to local historians, librarians, heritage officers, genealogists, and all with an interest in studying and or researching Irish emigration. It was a cold day. I would say there were about a hundred people who attended the event. Aiden Feerick and I represented Ancestor Network Limited and the Genealogical Society of Ireland. I recognised a number of faces from Dublin - many genealogists. I also recognised a collection of people from Roscommon and East Galway.
9:30am Welcome & Introduction
Professor Marian Lyons (Department of History, NUI Maynooth)
9:35am Opening address: The Gathering 2013
Tim O’Connor (Chairman, Board of the Gathering)
Tim O’Connor, the Chair of the Board of the Gathering and former diplomat, spoke of the event as a kind of open house for the next year where the people of Ireland have issued an invitation to the whole world to come and experience the national and local events which are all being expanded next year to welcome our visitors.
Key points: Culture is the link between Irish America and Diaspora and the Irish. Culture is what maintains the bonds between the irish Americans and Ireland even if it is several generations apart. Stubborness in holding onto culture is a key Irish trait. The cultural heart of New York is Broadway where the Irish have always punched above their weight. The key is to bridge the gap between Broadway and Wall Street, the financial capital of the world where many Irish Americans hold power and influence.
Ulster Scots tradition should not be overlooked as that is largest segment of Irish America. They migrated earlier so have been forgotten for the most part by Ireland. They have produced 17 US presidents.
What is The Gathering? It is an Open House of Ireland in 2013. It will take peoples’ efforts to make it successful. County Steering Groups are being established.
The recent Notre Dame Navy football game was the real kick off of The Gathering where 35,000 Americans came over. 4 out of 5 of these 35,000 American visitors had never been to Ireland before. It was a great opportunity to showcase Ireland on American television.
The Gathering in 2013 will officially start on New Year’s Eve in Dublin. St. Patrick’s Day will have major celebrations and events, followed by the Galway Arts festival, the GAA World Championships, the Irish Jewish Community reunion, then the global reading of Ulysses with relatives and descendents of James Joyce, the Kennedy family gathering in New Ross, etc.
What is The Gathering? It is an open source national platform to build and deepen the relationship between Ireland and the Diapora.
Gabriel Byrne has thrown enormous energy into his role as Cultural Ambassador to the USA. He said what he said about The Gathering. Tim O’Connor disagreed with Gabriel Byrne’s statements, but respected his views. The good thing which have come from Gabriel Byrne’s statements is that is has launched the debate about The Gathering.
It all still comes down to Roots, Culture, Past, ands History.
In less than 10 years, Ireland will be commemorating its centenary from 1916 to 2016 and enter into its second century of statehood.
The Gathering is about healing the breaches, particularly the breaches of emigration.
Be part of it!
10:00-10:20am ‘The global Irish family and its history’
Patrick Fitzgerald (Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, Omagh)
Dr Paddy Fitzgerald from the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, Omagh, Co Tyrone, spoke about the global Irish family and how up to 80 million people worldwide claim Irish descent. He went on to contextualise the Irish Diaspora as part of the European Diaspora but with several characteristics which mark it apart. The Irish Diaspora has been persistent in that, from at least The Flight of the Earls in 1603 until today, the outward movement has been constant. Even the Irish local accent is persistent, from the
Munster inflections of the people of
Montserrat to the Westmeath lilt of the descendants of the Irish who migrated
Unlike other countries, Argentina
has had an even gender balance among its emigrants with the emigrating women
going into domestic service. Again, unlike other countries there are low return
rates; the Irish seem to have returned less frequently than other European
populations; the tradition of the American Wake in some parts of the country
meant that it was a journey of no return. And chain migration has also been a
characteristic of our immigration with, for example, the people from Aran More,
Co Donegal predominantly going to Ireland . But the greatest impact of emigration has
been at home here in Beaver
with the Great Famine being remembered as a defining moment in our nation’s
10:20-10:40am ‘Working with the Irish abroad – a perspective from the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade’
Niall Burgess (Department of Foreign Affairs)
A serving diplomat, Niall Burgess, spoke about how we as a country see ourselves as a Diaspora. Even though the numbers emigrating to the
today are relatively small, our citizenship laws, whereby a person with an
Irish-born grandparent can become an Irish citizen, explicitly acknowledge our
links with our recent past. He went on to speak about the Famine as the
foundation myth for Irish immigration into the US and how there is an official
Famine Commemoration every year. He also stressed the importance of the
availability of online genealogical resources as well as those about to go
online and how these resources are under-utilised in US . America
10:40-11:00AM ‘The Ireland Reaching Out Programme’
John Joe Conwell (Community Liaison Officer for the Ireland Reaching Out Programme)
The Ireland Reaching Out Programme, brainchild of Galway entrepreneur Mike Feerick, has been successful since its beginning in attracting emigrants from East Galway to return and experience
Welcomes. Local people meet and greet the returnees, take them around their
parishes and show them where their folks lived and farmed and where they have
been buried and help them answer any question they may have. The key to the
success of the programme, according to its Community Liaison Officer, John Joe
Conwell, has been the involvement of local people at every stage. Ireland
Q & A
There were none. People needed their coffee.
This panel distributed an excellent bibliography called ‘Suggested readings on Irish transmigration studies’.
11:40-12:00pm Searching for your lost ancestors: using transmigration studies
Dr. Gerard Moran (Department of History, NUI Maynooth)
Using transmigration studies as a tool in the search for our ancestors was the topic of Dr Gerry Moran’s presentation. He listed the number of sources that are available both in
A suggested reading list was supplied by NUIM’s History Department to enable the participants to become more au fait with recent and current research trends.
12:00-12:20pm Entrepreneurs, innovators and philanthropists: the Irish imprint on the American Midwest, 1850-1900
Ms Regina Donlon (Department of History, NUI Maynooth)
Following on from this presentation, Regina Donlon, a doctoral student in the NUIM’s History Department, explored Irish immigration to the American Midwest with particular emphasis on
Fort Wayne, Illinois and .
She focussed on the Irish-born entrepreneurs, like Edward Fogerty who set up a
blacksmithing business in St Louis, Missouri Fort Wayne, and on
Joseph Murphy, the maker of the famous Murphy Wagon of the American frontier,
who operated out of .
She also mentioned the social visionaries of the time, the Irish Sisters of
Charity, and their work is setting up and managing hospitals and homes. The
Irish philanthropist, John Mullanphy, was also mentioned in this context. After
accumulating a fortune, Mullanphy, displayed both remarkable generosity and
ethnic loyalty by founding homes in St Louis for fellow Irishmen who were down
in their luck or were simply too old or ill to work. St Louis
12:20-12:40pm ‘In search of the Strokestown Famine emigrants’
Dr Ciarán Reilly (Department of History, NUI Maynooth)
The Famine Emigrants from the Strokestown Estate were the subject of Dr Ciaran O’Reilly’s presentation. He discussed emigration from the
Mahon estate and stated that
up to 60% of the tenants on the Strokestown estate disappeared during the
Famine, many of them assisted to emigrate by the family. 50,000 documents relevant to
estate have been stored in Castletown by the Office of Public Work (OPW) and
the History Department of NUIM is actively studying them. According to the
speaker, these documents contain information on at least 10,000 people. And
last year there was a weeklong gathering of the descendants of those who left
Strokestown during the Famine more than a century and a half ago. Dr O’Reilly
also drew attention to the amount of Irish related material that exists and is
relatively unused in the Mahon
from Passport Applications to Census data to the New York Census of Inmates in
Almshouses and Poorhouses 1830-1860. This, of course, is in addition to the
wealth of material on the Irish who immigrated to US during and especially after
the Famine and can be garnered from the UK Censuses. Britain
1:00pm Lunch & viewing of the Morpeth Roll
2:00-2:20pm The Morpeth Roll: An Introduction
Christopher Ridgway (Curator, Castle Howard, York & Adjunct Professor, Department of History, Maynooth)
2:20-3:00pm Ancestry.com’s involvement in digitising and indexing the Morpeth Roll
3:00-3:40pm Bringing the Morpeth Roll to life: a challenge for local historians
Mario Corrigan (Executive Librarian, Kildare Library & Arts Services)
Chairperson: Professor Raymond Gillespie (Department of History, NUI Maynooth)
3:40pm Plenary discussion led by Dr Patrick Fitzgerald