Apr 072015

This was the home of my great-grandparents and their family, it’s a story from my family history and of people who survived one of the toughest, most heartbreaking periods in Ireland’s fairly recent past

Born in the 1830’s /40’s they lived through the ‘Great Hunger’, married and had seven children, all of whom emigrated to Philadelphia.  I continue to research this branch of my ancestors.

My great-grandparents were neighbours in a rural Irish community before they married, they continued to live there for almost all of their lives.

Great-grandparents Home

My Great-grandparents Home

Each family member emigrated as soon as they had the price of the passage.  When on the other side of the Atlantic, they each worked tirelessly and sent money home for the next sibling to follow – sometimes two at a time until there was only my grandmother left behind with her aging parents.

In 1898 my great-grandmother died and on Sept 21st 1899, both my great-grandfather and my grandmother boarded the SS Pennland in Queenstown (Cobh) and emigrated to Philadelphia to be reunited with the remainder of their family.  They were accompanied by another cousin.  Just prior to leaving for that final trip, my great-grandfather handed the key of this little house to his neighbour saying ‘do with it what you will, we won’t need this house again’

Sadly, although my great-grandfather crossed the Atlantic and rejoined his family, meeting again extended family and former neighbours, emigrants from Ireland  and his US born grandchildren, he only survived for a further 6 months in Philadelphia.  He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

In my research, I have found all except one member of this family in Pennsylvania.  I have very many second and third cousins in the US and their stories are still unfolding as I continue to piece together the lives of an emigrant family.

Two daughters returned to Ireland and married two brothers who lived just a few fields away from this little house.  One of these women was my grandmother.

I captured this image earlier this year, late on a winter afternoon in freezing fog, illuminated by my car headlights

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