The Irish in America

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Clancy Wrap-up

Two more Clancy girls in America…

Mollie Clancy sent Margaret $100 as a wedding gift in the 1960s, and Margaret recalled posting a letter to Flushing, New York, which may or may not have been for Mollie.  Mollie never married.

That’s what Jim had to go on we he began his search for Mollie Clancy.  He positively identified Mollie’s arrival in New York using the New York Passenger Lists database on  On September 28, 1907 the S.S. Campania from Queenstown, Ireland arrived at New York harbor with Mollie Clancy, a twenty-year-old servant from Moylough, County Galway on board.  Mollie was accompanied by two other young people from Moylough: Martin Cosgrove (laborer) and Maggie Lyons (servant).

Jim was unable to trace Mollie after her arrival.  More research time would definitely result in more information on where she lived.  Mollie showed up on Jim’s radar again with documentation of a return trip from Ireland in 1938. The US Passport Applications on only go to 1925, so that would not help with Mollie.

Nora Clancy O’Hara remains a mystery, for now. Margaret told us she appeared on the 1901 Irish census, but not the 1911.  We could assume she made the journey to America sometime between 1905 and 1910, but she doesn’t appear in the passenger list database.  Again, I am sure that more time could produce results about Nora.  Jim did locate a Nora O’Hara in the Social Security Death Index who died in Flushing, New York in September of 1966, with a birth date of April 20, 1885.

The Other Clancy Siblings…

Margaret filled me in on the Clancy siblings who remained in Ireland.  Her grandfather Thomas stayed on the family’s homeplace, while a grand-uncle Pat built a house nearby.  Pat is said to have helped finance Nellie’s education as a teacher.

An interesting historical side-note: Margaret had an uncle Thomas who emigrated to England and who worked for the post office in London.  He returned to Moylough with his family for a couple of years during World War II, driven from London by the German bombing.  Margaret does not know when they came or when they left, and said that Tom never returned to Ireland.  However, Margaret paid him a visit in England in 1967.

Making the connection…

Margaret emailed me the other day, and she told me that she had phoned a granddaughter of Catherine (Clancy) and John Coogan living in California, and she was writing to her to fill her in on some family history. Jim identified the California woman as a very probable match.  Margaret wrote, “It is all slotting into place.”  I am pleased that we could help her fill out the American branch of her family tree.

Only two Clancy sibling would live out their lives on Irish soil.  This story is by no means unusual for the time and the place, but that does not diminish the profound emotional impact emigration had – and continues to have – on families.  Profound enough that over one-hundred years after her grand-aunts and uncle left Ireland for America, Margaret was curious enough about what happened to her relatives to search for answers.

That’s all on the Clancy family…for now.  We will see if Margaret learns any new bits of information from her new-found American cousin!  I hope that this example has shown you how easy it can be to trace your American relatives.

Note: In an earlier post on the Clancys I mentioned their father’s name was listed as Theo. (Theodore)…I was wrong, it was Tho. (Thomas)…Thomas was Margaret’s great-grandfather’s name.


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New Life, New Century

The tools and resources available on have brought family history and genealogy research directly to the fingertips of anyone with a computer and $40 a month to spare.  Fascinating discoveries are literally only clicks away.  That being said, it never hurts to have an experienced researcher like Jim on your payroll to navigate the myriad of possible matches and probable connections you encounter in your search.  Let’s continue the Clancy family’s journey to America by taking a closer look at Catherine, the first (known) Clancy sibling to emigrate.

Margaret told us that Catherine (Kate) was born in Moylough, County Galway in 1878.  Since she did not appear on either the 1901 or the 1911 Irish Census, Jim was confident in his identification of the Catherine Clancy who set sail from Queensland (Cobh) April 4, 1900, on board the S.S. Teutonic.  The journey took fifteen days, and Catherine arrived at New York City harbor on the 19th of April, 1900.  This would have been an exciting time to arrive in the US – amidst the optimistic swirl of the Spring of a new century.

With the 1920 US Census, Catherine was married to John J. Coogan from Kilkerrin, County Galway.  The young couple was living in Brooklyn, New York with two small boys (John and Joseph.)  By the 1930 US Census, the Coogan family had moved about eighty miles from Brooklyn to Wawayanda, New York.  A third son Francis joined the family in 1922.

There were some interesting items included in the collection of Immigration and Travel records.  On March 25, 1921 Catherine and her two sons returned home to New York after a holiday in Ireland.  Late in 1920, John had applied for a passport indicating travel with his wife and two sons to Ireland for three months, leaving in August – perhaps the trip was postponed or the return delayed.

The U.S. Passport Applications on are intriguing and could be a gold mine of information for the family history researcher.  John Coogan’s passport application gives us not only his birth date and place, but those of his wife and children, as well as the date he was naturalized as an US citizen, where he had lived in the US, his occupation, and his current residence.  The dates and destination of planned travel are also given.  These applications can be a one-stop source for genealogical information.  Plus, some of the passport applications even include a photograph!

One of Margaret’s memories was of saying the Trimmings after the evening Rosary and the “boys in the war” were always included in these prayers.  Margaret believed the Coogan boys fought in the Korean War.  Well, Jim discovered that the three Coogan boys were indeed “boys in the war”, but the war was World War II, which may have been before Margaret’s time.  Perhaps there were more American relatives from Moylough who fought during the Korean War?

We located a few descendants of Catherine (Clancy) and John Coogan, and I forwarded that information on to Margaret.  Maybe she will connect with some American cousins…I will keep you posted as to what I hear from her.

Next time we will wrap up the Clancy family saga with the stories of Nora and Molly.

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Out from Moylough: The Clancy Family in America

Over the past several months I have had the pleasure to exchange emails with Margaret from County Galway.  Margaret has shared memories and stories about relatives who emigrated to America in the early twentieth century.  I would like to show you how we were able to take Margaret’s memories, add some Irish Census evidence, throw in, and put it all in the hands of an experienced researcher to identify the American branch of Margaret’s family tree.

In the pursuit of family history research, there are times when every path seems to lead to a dead-end.  Other times the bits and pieces of information fit together effortlessly to tell a wonderful story of your history.  Luckily for us, the data slid right into place.  To get up to speed on Margaret’s research quest, click here.

Moylough Church, Galway - compliments of

When Margaret first told me about the Clancy siblings, her relatives who left Ireland for America, she shared some memories – Trimmings after the Rosary for the “boys in the war”, an old letter that mentioned debris from the Lusitania scattered in the sea as a young woman sailed to America, a generous wedding present from an American relative in New York.  Great stories that provide priceless clues for the researcher, but a few dates will always make the research process easier.

Margaret delivered again and gave us the birth dates and places for the five Clancy siblings.  She was unsure of exact emigration, but she provided information from the Irish Census – whether or not someone appeared on the 1901 or 1911 census helped us narrow our search and make positive identifications.

And did we make identifications!  Margaret may well learn more about her Clancy relatives than she ever wanted to know!

Jim, a senior research associate from Archival Solutions , stepped in and began to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Jim told me that this project was made much easier by the information Margaret provided, and he said that the information he gathered is just the tip of the iceberg – there is much more out there, on both sides of the Atlantic and in cyber space.  This brings up a key point to remember: When you begin family research of any kind, gather all known information at your disposal – the more you have, the easier your search will be.

Over the next week, I will highlight examples from this project that will illustrate the types of information you can expect to find when you embark on researching your family history in America.  I will begin with a story with its foundations in the once-popular and treasured item, the emigrant’s letter home.

Margaret recalled an old letter belonging to her aunt.  It was from her father’s cousin Nellie Clancy who went to America.  In the letter, Margaret remembered a vivid description of the debris from the Lusitania floating in the sea as Nellie’s ship sailed for America.  Margaret believed this letter was sent when Nellie returned to America after a holiday in Ireland.  The letter is long gone, but the image of Lusitania wreckage stayed with Margaret.

Panoramic view of the Lusitania - 1907

Jim found Nellie Clancy on S.S. St. Paul ship’s manifest right away.  She sailed from Liverpool on May 8, 1915 – the day after the Lusitania was sunk on May 7, 1915.  Nellie was not returning from a holiday in Ireland as Margaret believed, but rather this was her first voyage to America.  Nellie didn’t travel alone – she was accompanied by her younger brother and the youngest of the Clancy siblings, James.  James is listed as an eighteen-year-old farmer,  and the twenty-year-old Nellie’s occupation was listed as teacher.  Their closest relative in Ireland is given as,  father Theo. Clancy, Moylough, Ireland.  All of this information is included in the Ship Passenger Manifest.  What a way to start your new life, amongst the wreckage of a torpedoed ship!

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census shows Nellie and James living in a rooming house in Brooklyn, and the 1930 U.S. Census has Nellie married and living in New York, while a James Clancy is shown living in a house with two new Clancys – Teddy and Anna.  Margaret will have to let us know if there were a couple more Clancys hanging around.  Remember back to the ship’s manifest?  The Clancy father was named Theo., so there is a chance James wasn’t the youngest Clancy after all.

Next time we will look at the “Boys in the War”: the American soldiers remembered in the nightly prayers of a family in Galway.


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The Unmarked Grave

I have exchanged emails with Margaret from County Galway regarding her American relatives.  When I first heard from Margaret, I thought her request was fairly standard: she was looking a relative, Catherine McLoughlin Dempsey, who was born 1887 in Coolcalliga, Moylough, County Galway and emigrated to the US.  Catherine and a daughter returned to Ireland for a visit in the 1960s.

I was easily able to find Catherine by doing an search.  In addition to the census and passenger list data, there was a family tree that had been submitted by an user.  This family tree included Catherine McLoughlin Dempsey with the exact birth date and place.  I have attempted to make contact with the author of the family tree, but as yet have been unsuccessful.

Margaret was quite pleased to learn about Catherine’s life in America, but she wanted to learn if there were any surviving members of the family.  You see, Catherine’s mother, Margaret Clancy McLoughlin, is buried in Moylough without a grave marker.  Margaret (also Margaret Clancy before she was married) had hoped to locate a direct descendant who might help remedy that.

An Irish Cemetery (not in County Galway, but County Kildare) - photo by Regan McCormack

I am competent in historical research, but tracing living people is another story.  I found a Dempsey in the Long Island town where Catherine died, but when Margaret contacted him she learned he was a recent arrival to the area and unrelated.

There are more of Margaret’s relatives I have yet to fully research, but I was thrilled with the information on them that Margaret shared.  Here is a portion of her email:

Nora  Clancy  married an O.Hara They had 2 children (may have been adopted) mary and ?John I think he was in the Korean war AS were the Coogans .Their mother wasCatherine or maybe Kate .Her husband was from Kilkerin CoGalway  we prayed for them every night after the rosary in what we called Trimmings  They were known as:” The boys in the War.”4 of the Coogans visited Ireland late sixties or early seventies ,no one seemed to have exchanged addresses!!!    we also had Nellie clancy married Nick guerin ;They lived in Fortlauderdale on retirement.and Ive a faint recollection of Posting mail to:Flushing Newyork. ;where they had a sister Mollie  never married,She sent me 100 dollars when I got married in 1967!!! . There was a brother James  died 1952 I think,He wasnt too popular with the sisters… He never came back to Ireland, I think Nellie was the only one to visit,She was  returning to the states when the Lusitania sank,I remember finding an old letter when my aunt died and reading about the debris floating on the sea!

Margaret provides many interesting details, but I especially liked the bit about how they prayed for the “Boys in the War” each night after the Rosary.  She has so much information on these relatives.  I will trace these relatives and share the results here.  In the meantime, maybe someone will read this with ties to these Clancy siblings…