The Great Irish Move to America

If you have located any Irish ancestry in your lineage, you would want to locate when that branch left Ireland for the America.  A reminder, many Irish immigrants went to other ports, not just New York City.  Many went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or to New Orleans, Louisiana or even resettled in Canada, coming into the ports in Quebec or New Brunswick.

Also not all Irish came during the great migration during the 1840s.  Due to low wages in Ireland and new work opportunities with the canal systems being built in the United States some 6,000 Irish settlers came to America just in 1816.  By 1818 some 12,000 Irish left their homeland for America. More and more laborers were needed to build the major canal systems, like the Erie Canal more Irish workers and their families came across the Atlantic.  It was stated by journalists of the times that sources of energy were: “water-power, steam-power and Irish-power. The last works hardest of all.”

With the events of October 1845, things really changed for Ireland. A serious blight was ruining three-fourths the main food staple of the land, potatoes. One year was bad enough, but the blight recurred in 1846, causing the death by starvation of some 350,000 people over a year’s time. This Irish famine was made worst due to an outbreak of typhus.  By 1851 the census estimate was that a million Irish citizens had died due to the famine and disease over the last 5 to 6 years.

Those who survived early on in Ireland realized they needed to emigrate across the Atlantic to the Americas or across the Pacific to Australia.  Just to the United States some 92,484 Irish came in 1846, in 1848 there were 173,744 and 206,041 in 1850. It is figured nearly two million people, one-fourth the population of Ireland had emigrated to the United States between 1846 and 1855. So between 1816 and 1855, it is a good chance any Irish ancestor may have arrived during the first half of the 19th century.

To assist locating any information on such an ancestor the online site ‘Olive Tree Genealogy’ has the passenger records of the J & J Cooke Co., who were shipping agents in the 1800s.  The online database has listings of Irish passengers leaving Londonderry in the north end of Ireland and sailing to Philadelphia, New Orleans, Quebec and New Brunswick between 1847 and 1871.

The listing starts with the ship’s name, the arrival year, where the ship left from and where it arrived. By then clicking on a ship’s name a roster of the passengers with their full name, their age and where in Ireland they came from is listed.

For ships coming from Ireland earlier, there is a site for emigrants covering 1833 to 1838 and some also for 1825, 1845-1847 to Canada from Ireland.

By just having a time period and which port an ancestor arrived at can simplify further research for additional records.

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