Category Archives: Emigration

Mass Irish Emigration to the USA

A phrase heard often in Ireland that “everyone has someone in America!” – meaning that it’s rare the family that doesn’t have connections in the United States, be they first generation or earlier.  The phrase is equally accurate for Newfoundland and Canada and in modern times,  Australia.

Throughout the centuries, Irish people, young and old,  have always left this island in their droves and for various reasons – oppression, famine, adventure, war and conflict, opportunity … it is interesting then to see the names of those Powers (and others, of course) that pop up in the pages of newspapers and journals, making their mark in one way or another, before the Internet and instant communication became ubiquitous.

There are some great online resources available, allowing us to delve into local (sometimes very local) US history – and when we find a subject – like the recent post on Sheriff John Powers of Nebraska – we take great pleasure in exploring a little bit more about the emigrant in question, trying at least in the broad sense, to add some social context and a sense of place to the individual and those they might have left behind on “the Ould Sod”.

An interesting snippet found its way to our keyboard recently, which perusing “The Daily Phoenix” of Columbia, South Carolina, from 1874.

The total number of emigrants from Ireland in the first six months of the present year was 45,781, of whom 25,163 were males and 60, 917 were females.  As compared with the corresponding period of 1873, there was a decrease of 14,359.  Since the 1st of May, 1851, the total emigration from Ireland has been 2,252,745.

Despite the inaccuracy in the sum of the first two figures, the last line in that article is simply nothing short of astonishing.  Whole cities worth of people were moving lock, stock and barrel from Ireland during this time, and the figures quoted don’t even go back as far as 1847, when the Famine was at it’s height.

As a concept, Irish people of today readily acknowledge the Great Famine and all its terrible loss and suffering, but I don’t think we can equate today’s sense of space and freedom with just how many more people were on our island just 150 odd years ago.

And to sign off, and as was bound to happen, not all the Powers who made the journey managed to keep their noses out of strife !

Cincinnati, Ohio, 1875

PS : That’s  a $4000 fine today !


50th Anniversary of JFK visit

We’ve come across this very interesting site and think it’s worth a look – there are many of us in the south-east of Ireland with a close association with the Kennedy clan in and around New Ross.

This summer should see some great events commemorating the great man’s visit to New Ross in 1963, shortly before he was assassinated. Check out the site and events listings here.


Waterford’s Canadian Connections

Waterford and Canada have had an unexpectedly close historical relationship that dates back almost 500 years.

The first record of a ship travelling from South East Ireland to Newfoundland dates as far back as 1534 and by the eighteenth century, boats were making regular journeys to Canada for the fishing routes. While at the beginning they would return home for the winter, later on they would start to “over-winter” in Newfoundland. Emigration to this part of the world peaked in the early 1800s, and as a consequence it is estimated that today over 50% of Newfoundland’s population is of Irish origin. Not surprisingly it has been called “the most Irish place in the world outside of Ireland”.

John Palliser picAs landlord of Comeragh House in 1853, John Palliser (seen opposite) had built a strong reputation as a Victorian adventurer from his travels to the Mississippi-Missouri river and across the Western Plains; which interestingly involved sharing a passage with Barnum Bailey Circus and General Tom Thumb.

In 1856, he began to get itchy feet and after garnering support from Dr Livingstone, he left the Comeraghs for a two year expedition to survey and map the Canadian North West. Over two years Palliser and his companions explored the entire region between Lake Superior and the Pacific Coast. They collected 460 species and some 60,000 specimens, some of which can still be found in the Botanical Gardens in London. They “discovered” and named many rivers and mountains such as Palliser’s River in the Rocky Mountains, the Bow River, Kananaski River and Pass, Fairholme Mountain, Palliser Range and most famous of all, Palliser’s Triangle which stretches for hundreds of miles.

The close relationship and cultural similarities of these two coastal communities do not go unacknowledged: with the annual Festival of the Sea held in Newfoundland and Ireland; a number of Trees of Honour were also recently planted in the Anne Valley, in memoriam to our Newfoundland-Irish ancestors and of course the solid presence of Canada Quay.

“An Emigrant’s Tale” by Patrick McGrath

This Wednesday the 16th January 2013, at the Town Hall Theatre, Dungarvan, Co Waterford at 8pm, in conjunction with The Gathering, William Fraher will give an illustrated talk titled “An Emigrant’s Tale” by Patrick McGrath 1812-1894.

Patrick McGrath was a stonemason who was born in Youghal and later set up his business in Dungarvan. He emigrated with his family from Dungarvan to Saint John, New Brunswick in 1847 during the Famine. The family prospered and eventually settled in Quincy, Massachusetts. One of the children, Mary Elizabeth married Doctor Blake. She became a well known writer/poet in the Boston area.

Entry Fee is €5.

Samantha Power – Journalist and Author

Samantha Power, originally from Castleknock in Dublin, is now Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs in US President Barack Obama’s administration.  She is also a journalist and a Pulitzer Prize winning author.  Power is also a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.

sampowerAlongside her ardent support for Barack Obama, Power is a tireless worker in her efforts to increase public awareness of genocide and human rights abuses, particularly in the Darfur conflict.  No Irish-born person in recent history has had such influence on a president. Power, now 40, moved to the US from Ireland at aged 10 and there is speculation that she could be the next US Secretary of State.

You can read Samantha’s own blog here and/or check out her White House profile here.

The Forgotten Irish

‘The Forgotten Irish’ is a community of Irish people living over two thousand miles from Ireland in Newfoundland, Canada, whose ancestors left their home country six generations ago.  Have a look at this Radharc program from RTÉ’s archives, looking at a colony of Irish people for whom time has stood still.

A group in Newfoundland is working with the Power Clan Gathering steering committee in Ireland to facilitate air travel and accommodations for the Power Clan event next June. The package will also include optional tours to other parts of Ireland. For more information, email

The First Settlers of the US

Were there families called Power, Powers or Poore amongst the first settlers of the USA ?  It would appear there were several !

James Savage in his book “A Genealogical Dictionary Of The First Settlers Of New England” gives several reference to folks named Power and Poore.  He gives the following biographical excerpt in the above work :

Poor, or Poore, Benjamin, son of Samuel the first, m. 13 Apr 1696, Mary, widow of George Hardy, who d. 8 Aug 1707 and had Sarah, b. 6 Sep 1697 and Ann 31 Oct 1700.  Daniel Poore of Andover, is that youth I suppose, aged 14, whos name appears on the list of passengers on the Bevis from Southampton, 1638.

What’s interesting is that the father mentioned here, Samuel Poore, and his brother John are both listed on the memorial seen opposite, now standing in Newbury, Massachusetts – one of the first towns to be settled on the Atlantic coast of what is now the USA, in 1635.

The group of about 100 pioneers was led by Nicholas Noyes and came via Southampton and Wiltshire, UK.


Are you descended from any of the people mentioned in this article ?  Let us know !!

A Lone Emigrant

John Power, was an ordinary Waterford man and like so many of his contemporaries, an ordinary emigrant.

Born in Waterford in 1833, he left his native county nineteen years later in 1852, travelling alone, but with 183 other souls, on the famine ship ‘Orinoco’, direct from Waterford to New York.

His name now appears, along with countless others on the new Irish Emigrant Database, online for free at the website of the Dunbrody Famine Ship, in New Ross.  What became of John Power ?  What went through his mind as he sailed for a final time down our magnificent harbour, out past Hook Head and away across the Atlantic ?  Did he have descendants ?  Did he ever come home ?

John Power, just one common farming man, amongst thousands, who sailed over the horizon …

Dunbrody Famine Ship

While many of our Newfoundland Irish cousins may have emigrated to take advantage of new fishing and economic opportunities in Canada, many left too to escape the ravages of famine in Ireland.

The replica famine ship “The Dunbrody” now stands at permanent anchor at the town of New Ross, an important port of departure from south-east Ireland.  Through actors and interesting narrative, this exhibit takes us through this difficult and often desperate time in Irish history … visitors to New Ross, Waterford and Wexford should definitely make the ship a stop on their tour of the south-east. Dunbrody logo

See their website here (including the new Dunbrody Irish emigrant experience, database and interpretive museum).

Grand Banks Cod Fishery

The vast majority of Irish migrants to Newfoundland came from the counties such as Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny,Tipperary and Cork. No other province of Canada or location in the USA drew such an overwhelming proportion of their immigrants from so geographically compact an area in Ireland and over so prolonged a period of time.

BluePlaqueWaterford city was the primary port of embarkation and mid way along its mile long north quay stands the blue plaque (opposite). Most migrants came from within a day’s journey to the city, or its outport of Passage East, 10 km  down river in Waterford Harbour. New Ross and Youghal, Co. Cork were secondary centers of transatlantic embarkation. Old river ports such as Carrick on Suir and Clonmel on the River Suir, Inistioge and Thomastown on the River Nore, and Graiguenamanagh on the River Barrow were important centers of recruitment. So were the rural parishes along these navigable waterways.  Many left Ireland to meet relatives already working at the Grand Banks Cod Fishery, off Newfoundland. aptly named in Irish as Talamh an Éisc.