The Irish in America


Irish in Minnesota

I remember when Patricia Johnston’s book, Minnesota’s Irish first appeared at our house. It was 1984 and Ireland was my new obsession. I was reading everything I could get my hands on about Ireland or written by someone with an Irish name. I listened to nothing but U2 and poured over Mom’s Ireland of the Welcomes magazines, dreaming of living in a dramatic coastal castle or a quaint village cottage.

When I cracked open the book, I assumed it would mostly be about my family. We were the most Irish people I knew in Minnesota. I looked at the index first, expecting to see significant entries for my family names, McCormack, Regan, Foley, Flannery, McMahon. Imagine my surprise when there was nothing.

That is not entirely true. There was one photo of St. Malachy’s Church in Clontarf, the Swift County town where my maternal relatives lived. The people in the photo were all so tiny, there was no chance of identifying any individuals. I was disappointed. I thought my Irish family deserved at least a mention. I also thought Ms. Johnston should have called my grandma for some better material.

The book opened my twelve-year-old eyes to the idea that there were a lot of Irish people who made Minnesota home. I was not as unique as I believed. The experiences of the Irish in Minnesota were more diverse than I had been aware. Now, all these years later, my mom and I are taking a dive into the history of the Irish experience in Minnesota, beyond our own family’s history in Swift County and Minneapolis.

Unidentified Town Scene — private collection

My mom and I love to do research. We are great at identifying resources, following leads, discovering connections, uncovering hidden nuggets, and accumulating information. We find it difficult to stop researching, to feel like we are ever finished. This project has “work in progress” written all over it. There is so much to discover and the research is too much fun.

I would love to hear from you about where your Irish and Irish American relatives put down roots in Minnesota. Is there a township or a village in Minnesota you would like to learn more about? Need some help with research? I think of this as part genealogy, part local history, with some folklore and oral history thrown in the mix. I will share what Mom and I are finding here on the blog. Leave a comment below to get in touch!

The Irish in Minnesota came from every county in Ireland (I actually don’t know that for sure, but I will find out!), endured hardships and celebrated successes at every stage of their migration. Minnesota was the last stop for some Irish immigrants and their families, others pushed further west, and a few even returned to previous homes. Regardless, they all made contributions to the social, cultural, and political fabric of Minnesota.


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Dublin St. Patrick’s Week: Family History Centre

findmypast-logoIf you will be in Dublin next week and are curious about your family history, then you are in luck!

As part of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Festival and in conjunction with The Gathering Ireland 2013, the folks at FindMyPast Ireland are hosting the Family History Centre on March 14-18. This is an exciting event, with lectures, exhibitors, and FREE access to This is what they have to say about the event:

80 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry – are you one of them?

The Irish Family History Centre runs throughout the week of the St. Patrick’s Festival and allows you to discover your Irish family history.

Free access to millions of online records from will give you an insight of what life was like for your ancestors hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Learn how to search for information using the free computers and chat with experienced staff who can answer your questions.

StPatricksFestivalWe can all use some expert advice when it comes to our family history research. So, if you are headed to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, why not stop by the Family History Centre – click here for more information, including map and opening times.

Here is a list of the exhibitors at the Family History Centre. For a full list of lectures and exhibitors, please click here.

 IGRS – Irish Genealogical Research Society 

Irish Family History Society

Genealogical Society of Ireland

Ancestor Network

Flyleaf Press

North of Ireland Family History Society

The Military Archives – Thursday & Friday only

Looks like fun! As if there weren’t enough reasons to visit Dublin this St. Patrick’s Day, here’s another. Hope it is a great success!

And if you need more help tracing the American branch of your family tree after visiting the Family History Centre, look no further…The Irish in America can help! We have had great success finding American cousins for Irish clients. Check out our Find Your Cousins page for more information – click here!


Irish Lives Remembered

Great-grandmother Annie Regan with her geese, 1920.

If you have not yet checked out Eileen Munnelly’s genealogy website Irish Lives Remembered, you really should. And I am not just saying this because I wrote an article for the August 2012 issue of the Irish Lives Remembered Genealogy Magazine!

Irish Lives Remembered is a fantastic site for anyone researching their Irish roots. The website says:

Irish Lives Remembered is a FREE to join Genealogy Community to help you locate your Irish ancestors.

Based in Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland, our business is dedicated to preserving the memory of deceased people of Irish heritage globally by providing a social media based Genealogy website and digital magazine.

The site hosts groups and discussion forums for each of the thirty-two Irish counties and additional special interest groups created by members. For example, I joined the groups for each of the counties from which my ancestors originated, as well as a few specialized groups (Irish in Philadelphia, Irish in the NYPD, Irish in New York). I even started my own Irish in America group.

But there is much more to Irish Lives Remembered than discussion forums. What sets Irish Lives Remembered apart from other Irish genealogy sites is the great attention to detail throughout the site, which results in a truly comprehensive approach to Irish genealogy.

The monthly genealogy e-magazine I mentioned earlier contains useful and entertaining information on a diverse selection of Irish genealogy topics. The August issue alone features articles on Irish convicts in Australia, Huguenots in Ireland, and Irish Jewish heritage, in addition to spotlights on Mayo and Antrim.

The Irish Lives Remembered site also features a section devoted to memorials – biographies on influential Irish individuals in history. The memorials include famous writers, activists, musicians, explorers, politicians, and more. Corresponding memorials appear on the group page for their county of origin. Eileen has included a list of upcoming anniversaries and birthday remembrances, which further connects us to Ireland’s history on a very personal level.

Genealogy is about more than filling in the blanks on your family tree with names, dates, and places. It is about remembering our ancestors as individuals, and when we remember them, we honor them. Eileen and Irish Lives Remembered makes doing both a little bit easier and much more enjoyable.

Check out the latest issue of Irish Lives Remembered Genealogy Magazine here. You can also view and download past issues here.

August 2012 Issue: Irish Lives Remembered Genealogy Magazine


Local Studies @ the Limerick City Library

I love what the Local Studies Team at the Limerick City Library is doing on Twittter. Using the library’s extensive historical reference collection, they are tweeting as @Limerick1912, providing their followers with daily glimpses into Limerick City life one hundred years ago.

From the content of @Limerick1912‘s tweets, I gathered that the Limerick City Library had quite a collection, so I decided it was time to take a look at what the library was all about.

The Local Studies Department has great on on-line offerings:

If you trace your Irish roots to Limerick, you really must visit this website. I have no family connections to Limerick, yet I managed to spend a good chunk of time perusing the collection, especially the Obituaries & Death Notices section. Here you will find notices from the Limerick Chronicle for the years 1850-1909, and they are indexed by year, as well as alphabetically – very researcher-friendly! Oh, and they also include maps for the years 1856-1893, showing where each death occurred – simply click on the pin and the information pops up with a link to the actual notice.

The map feature is very useful for people like me who are interested in the Irish in America. Simply click on a year, look at the map, and see if any US deaths were reported to folks back in Limerick.

For example, when I clicked on 1883 in the Obituaries & Death Notices section, a page containing a map and an alphabetical list of notices from the Limerick Chronicle for 1883 comes up. The map shows 5 listings from North America, 122 from Europe, and one from Dalhousie, India. If I click on North America I can see the specific locations of the reported deaths. There are several clustered on the East Coast, but I choose the pin in the middle of the United States.

A balloon pops up with the following information: “Mary Ann Goggin, Kansas City USA, Date: 28/04/1883, Notes: wife of Robert Goggin native of Limerick, death notice”. Click on her name and a PDF image of the newspaper page containing the notice opens.

The full notice reads:

Goggin – March 20, 1883    Mary Ann, wife of Robert Y. Goggin (a native of this city), of congestion of the brain, at her late residence 1110 East Eleventh Street, Kansas City, Mo.

This would be a fun “find” for someone doing genealogy on the Goggin family, or perhaps someone interested in the Irish in Kansas City.

What I find so interesting is all the other information we can learn from a portion of a newspaper page. Along with notice of Mary Ann Goggin’s passing, we learn the price of butter at the Cork Butter Market and the May schedule for fairs throughout Munster.

You might even stumble upon an international event while browsing local death notices. I was drawn to a 1904 report of the death of a ship’s cook named Douglas Campbell who drowned while his ship was docked at the quay. This scenario intrigued me, so I clicked to see the actual notice. Before I could learn about what happened to poor Douglas, I read this headline:




In a report from St. Petersburg, Russia: “The Tzaritza was to-day delivered of a son…at 12 noon…the Tzarevitch has been given the name of Alexis.” The report goes on to say that St. Petersburg would be decked out with flags to celebrate. Take a look at the page from the August 13, 1904 edition of the Limerick Chronicle – click here.

And what about Douglas? Sadly, he apparently fell into the river on his way back to the ship after a visit to town.

Take a look at the Limerick City Library website and let me know what you discover! And if you are on Twitter, you should definitely follow @Limerick1912 – just click here, sit back, and enjoy a trip back in time!

Coming soon…we will take at what the Limerick City Archives has to offer!