The Irish in America


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What’s Whit Week?

Whit Week Procession (postcard sent to Annie Hill Regan)

Whit Week is here and that can mean only one thing…hmmmm…I wonder what that could be?  If this was the early twentieth-century in Manchester, England, odds are it would mean donning a new white dress and marching in a Whit week procession like the ladies pictured above.

Since the demise of the Whit Monday bank holiday in the UK in 1967 and Ireland in 1973, I am not sure how much attention is  paid to the week following Pentecost (read more about Whitsun by clicking here.)

This photo of a Whit Week parade appears on a postcard from the early twentieth century, and survives in a small collection of photos and cards that belonged to my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan (born in Kildare, emigrated to Minnesota 1899.)  With no postmark, no address, and rather ambiguous greeting and signature (both are Push), this little card is a bit puzzling.  My best guess is that the card came to Annie from her younger sister Bridget Hill Reynolds of Manchester, England.  From what I have read, processions like this were more popular in England, and the postcard mentions “our Maggie” – Bridget had a daughter named Maggie, who eventually emigrated to America joining her Aunt Annie in Minnesota.

The card mentions looking forward to a visit “next year.”  I wonder if Annie ever did travel from Minnesota to Manchester, England to visit her sister’s family?  Did she return home to Ireland on this visit?  I have searched for possible documentation of such a journey, but so far have come up empty.  I will have to keep at it and see what I can find.

Reverse of postcard

Maybe you can help me figure this photo out…

  • Have you seen Push as a nickname or slang in correspondence from the early 20th century?
  • Do the dresses provide a more concrete date to this photo?
  • Is Whitsun or Whit Week still observed in Ireland and England?

Any ideas?  Please leave a comment!

Have a good week!


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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 Ancestry.com.  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 Ancestry.com 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.