Irish Genealogy Myth #2 We were Famine Immigrants

Genealogy and Family History Myth #2
We were Great Irish Famine Immigrants.
Learn more at

Click here for my Irish Famine podcasts

Grandaddy of Irish famine songs here ‘Skibbereen (1847…)

Later ‘famine’ famine song here ‘Kilkelly’ (1860…)

The Famine Immigrants
For 30 years, thousands have explained to me
what they know of their own family history. Often
it goes like this:

“We know grandpa’s name, but he never talked about
anything so we don’t really know anything else.. but
we know we were famine immigrants .. So whenever
that famine was, that was when we came over.”

Family members take note:

1) Famines were fairly common in Ireland. The crop
failed several times in the 1800’s, both before and
after the famine, to say nothing of famines in the
centuries prior. So, saying they came over during
the famine might not provide a date for you. ( Though
it can be a good starting point).

2) The ‘Great Irish Famine’ period runs from about
1845-1852, and that includes not only famine, but
the resulting disease that the people suffered through.
1847 seems to be the worst of it.
A song that records the trials of the famine, as well
as the immigrants who went abroad is ‘Skibbereen’.
(see the song link at the top of this post).
A song that notes continuing troubles and failure
of the crop, and immigration from 1860-1890 is
‘Kilkelly”. (see the song at the top of this post).

Take your pick, it is a sad story, and makes
you wonder how an immigrant could smile at all….

3) Many people who lived through the ‘Great Famine’,
did not leave Ireland until after the famine was over.
This also makes the date of immigration vague.

4) Though many records are destroyed, the set of
books and online records for the famine immigrants
at the Port of New York, can be very helpful.

5) As often is the case, it’s not what grandpa said
that will help you, it is where his name was put
down in writing in records ! …and even more
so for your gr gr grandfather on back….

For those interested in more information on the famine:
My two free podcasts on the famine from our Hedgerow
History series are given at the top of this blog.
©2012 IGF
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Mike O’Laughlin
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©2012 IGF

About Mike

Mike is the worlds most published author in his field, with over 40 books, 700 articles, two newsletters, a blog, 200 podcasts and 170 videos. He also publishes rare books like "The Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters" and Keatings "History of Ireland". Mike also sings in the Irish (Gaeilge) Language, with 3 albums to his credit. Mike descends from the O’Loughlins of Kilfenora, County Clare, and the O’Donahues of Glenflesk, County Kerry and also bears Sullivan, Buckley, Kilmartin, Llewellyn and Kelliher roots. He has led tours to Ireland and maintains a 3,000 volume Irish library.
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