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The Gathering 2013

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Joined: 14 Jan 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:46 pm    Post subject: The Gathering 2013 Reply with quote

This story is reprinted from the Fall issue of The Bonfire, newsletter of the Ballykilcline Society. Dr. Ciaran Reilly also requested that we spread the word on various lists and web sites.

The Gathering 2013

Strokestown Park Wants to Know Your Story

As preparations continue for the 2013 Gathering, when Ireland will take center stage in the minds of millions of people claiming Irish descent around the world, at Strokestown Park House an exciting project is underway as part of those celebrations.
For the majority of those tracing their Irish genealogy, the Great Famine 1845-51 was the catalyst for much of this emigration. In that brief period, more than a million people emigrated, while the ensuing decades saw wave after wave of Irish emigrants. Dr. Ciarán Reilly of NUI Maynooth, in collaboration with Strokestown Park House and the National Famine Museum, is currently examining the voluminous Strokestown Archive. Contained therein, in almost 50,000 documents, are the forgotten voices of the Great Irish Famine.
During the Great Famine more than 5,000 people alone were evicted from the Strokestown estate; more than half that number emigrated to Canada, America, Britain, and Australia among other places. Among the thousands of names included in emigration, eviction, relief, and workhouse lists of the Strokestown archive are Brennan, Feeney, Murray, McGuire, Hogan, Fitzsimons, Gannon, Freeman, Conry, Casserly, Doherty, Burke, Murtagh, Moran, Duffy, Fahey, and many more. The lists include the names, addresses, size of holding, and a description of the very people who were affected by the Famine. Here, the lives of farmers, millers, shopkeepers, merchants, poor, diseased, destitute, and abandoned are carefully preserved. Indeed, the character of some of the Famine emigrants from Strokestown and the surrounding area are also revealed, which includes a surprising number of robbers, thieves, and bandits!! In total, the archive contains details on more than 10,000 people during the Great Irish Famine.

Frank Coggins and others – the search is on
Taking a sample of those who left Strokestown during the Famine, it may be possible to trace the lives of those who reached Canada, America, Australia, and other locations. For example, Catherine Blair of Lissonuffy, near Strokestown, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1850. She is recorded in the federal census in 1850 as living there with her husband James, 57, and three children: William, aged 11, Thomas, 9, and Jane. 2 years old. Others settled in the ‘Kerry Patch’ in St Louis, Missouri, and in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many, however, failed to adapt to their new life. Ellen Shannon, for instance, was listed as a patient in a county asylum in 1870. She was buried at Rockspring, St Louis, in 1882. What became of James Spellman who arrived in New York in 1846? Was he the same person who is listed in the 1860 census as living in Newport, Herkimer, New York, with his wife, Teresa, 30, and three daughters: Mary, 6, Martha, 4, and little Catherine, by which time he had amassed property valued at $3,377 and a personal estate worth $1,500?
Others remain a mystery and do not appear in U.S. Census material. Take, for instance, the case of Frank Coggins and his whereabouts in America after the Famine. In September 1852, the Freemans Journal newspaper reported that a man named Frank Coggins, his wife, son, and three daughters entered the workhouse in Strokestown in March 1850 as “miserable and emaciated looking creatures.” Within a short space of time, the son, then 15, and his father absconded from the workhouse and went to England leaving the rest of the family behind. From there, they then went to America, and after about nine months or so, secured passage for their family and duly sent passage tickets to the master of the workhouse. It is a fascinating account of the hardships which many endured and the strength and resilience which they showed. Can any more be found out about Frank Coggins, his family, or subsequent generations?
Gathering the Roscommon Famine emigrants’ stories
As part of The Gathering, Strokestown Park House, in collaboration with the Department of History, NUI Maynooth, is looking to trace and invite “home” to Roscommon the descendants of these Famine emigrants for a week of celebration and remembrance. Owing to current economic circumstances, it might not be possible for many of the global Irish who wish to take part in some of the events in Ireland to do so. That is where this project comes in -- Gathering the Roscommon Famine emigrants’ stories. We want to hear your story -- whether detailed or not, or if you are only in the process of finding out about your Famine ancestors.
While the project is primarily aimed at Strokestown emigrants, we would love to hear from those with roots in Roscommon and even farther afield. The stories will be added to our web site and will be available to be read by visitors to the National Famine Museum. Send us your stories, pictures, memories, and any other information that will help put all these pieces of the jigsaw together. Thanks mainly to the voluminous Strokestown Park archive, the people’s voices are recorded. Now, we want to hear about those who left, how they fared, and what was/is their legacy. Over the coming months, plans for the Gathering event (to be held in July) will be published on the Strokestown web site (www.strokestownpark.ie). It is also hoped that the database containing the records of more than 10,000 people during the Great Famine in Roscommon will be made available in the near future, funding permitted, although in what format, i.e., book/CD ROM etc, has still to be decided.

To Submit Your Story

Your story can be any length and accompanying photographs – make sure to include captions – will be welcomed. Email your document to Dr. Reilly at ciaran.j.reilly@nuim.ie or info@strokestownpark.ie Make sure to include your full name, postal address, email address, and telephone number.

Dr. Ciarán Reilly is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of History, NUI Maynooth. His latest book, John Plunket Joly and the Great Famine in King’s County, has just been published by Four Courts Press.
Lynne Sisk
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