The Conundrum of Irish Tourism and Americans 'Remembering' Their Irish Roots
Recently, the Irish government began its campaign to attract American visitors to Ireland, especially those with Irish ancestors, for the 2016 Centenary of the '1916 Easter Rising'. President Michael D. Higgins' 2015 visit to California began this campaign. It is well documented that over a third of Americans have Irish ancestors, but can these Americans find any record of their Irish roots?
The Forgotten Irish American Generations; The Coal/Copper Miners and Railway Workers
When one contemplates the Irish rebellions, especially the last one the Easter Rising of 1916, one needs to understand why rebellion was necessary, why no peaceful solution was possible, and why Irish Americans who had been in this country for up to four generations supported the rebellion, raised money for it, crossed the sea eastward to fight in it and rebelled even in this country, sharing the experiences of those still in Ireland.
Sadly, for a very long time, what many Irish immigrants found in the U.S. was not much better that: Prejudice against and abuse as Catholics and Irish here. American economic and political systems, here, in the U.S. were no less dominated by Protestants than there, in English Protestant occupied and ruled Ireland or England, where Irish often went to work in the 1800's. Until the American revolution, even in what is now the U.S., English law forbade land ownership if you were an Irish Catholic, except in Maryland.
Even after American Independence, public education, and even paid education, for Catholic Irish was greatly restricted, deliberately in many cases. Public policy reduced this perceived excess undesired population by a shortened life-span through malnutrition or deadly accidents in mills, mines and on docks. It further relegated them to these miserable, too-short lives by denying them any education that might provide better choices or skills for a way out.
However, in Ireland itself, public education, and even paid education, for Catholic Irish was greatly restricted, deliberately in many cases, and land ownership by Catholics continued to be prohibited. English public policy was to reduce the perceived excess undesired Irish population by a shortened life-span through malnutrition, and epidemics worsened by malnutrition or deadly accidents in mills, mines and on docks in the most dangerous jobs that required the least skills. English policy further relegated the Irish to these miserable, too-short lives by denying them any education that might provide better choices or skills for a way out, anywhere, including in the U.S., were they to find a way to emigrate.
In the U.S. and parts of the UK where manufacturing was allowed, in the 1830's, and 1840's before the famine, industry was just developing and not greatly varied. Weaving and railway building were among the most dangerous industries and the owners of the companies in these industries had the hardest time finding workers who saw the hard, long, dangerous work that so often took life or limb, as better than farm or construction labor. During the famine period, dangerous mills, mines and dockyards all suffered labor shortages and had to pay more for labor, from both the loss of life in the famine and succeeding epidemics, but also, in the U.S., because of the Mexican American War. In the U.S., for a few years army duty, which most survived, illiterate, unskilled Irish could earn enough to buy a piece of land at a time when good more southerly midwestern U.S. lands were available, and in Oregon and California. After 1851, though it was back to 'business as usual.' The same was true after 1865.
It wasn't until the mid to late 1880's that more industry choices became available for illiterate, unskilled, Catholic Irish labor, and labor began organizing more effectively for better working conditions and pay, and public schools for the children of these poor immigrants. With the exception of those who survived the famine and the Mexican American War to acquire and own decent midwestern farmland, though, the generations of Irish American emigrants between about 1830 and 1880 became largely forgotten generations, on both sides of the Atlantic, and those who ruled, owned the most land and mines and mills largely cooperated to make it so.
First bear in mind that the landowners in Ireland and England were Protestant English. Although there were Catholic landowners in the U.S., they were a very small minority until fairly late in the 19th century, except in California, Oregon and Washington. In Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia, the areas of the first big U.S. mining operations, and most extensive railroads who needed the mines, the mining lands were all owned by Protestants, mostly English in Pennsylvania, with some Germans, and English, Scots, and Germans elsewhere. I've yet to find any Catholic Irish mine owners. The Protestants, especially those of English ancestry, in the U.S., shared the same disregard for the Catholic Irish as did the English in Ireland or England. They all distrusted, even hated, 'Papists' who also refused to learn and speak English properly. As early as the 1600's the Puritans in Massachusetts described the native Americans as being 'wild savages, no different than the Irish; little more than beasts.' In the mid 1800's Protestant English, Germans and others were describing the illiterate, unskilled Irish immigrants as 'wild, uncivilized, no different than (our) natives; little more than cattle.' The language to justify abuse didn't change much in 200 years; neither did the attitudes.
The most dangerous, hardest jobs and industries, particularly their owners, needed and wanted illiterate people who couldn't read the papers about the accidents, and 'company towns' where the workers' hard earned wages were as quickly taken as dispensed in the stores that provided the only food, or the rented homes, all owned by the companies.
When the 'Duffy's Cut' massacre occurred, the owners of the railroad worried not for the lives and safety of current and future Irish railroad builders, but about how to hide the story so the Irish would continue to sign up for the dangerous work in hostile territory. To get the workers these industries wanted, the people taking the jobs had to be limited in education and information and very desperate for the hope of earning more and being able to save up for a piece of land of their own. They had to be willing and able to 'drink the kool-aid' of dreams that the U.S. industry hucksters and their paid recruiters sold in the cities and towns of Ireland and England where the most numerous of the most desperate Irish lived without hope of ever owning land in their own country. The industry hucksters were also looking for not the very poorest; after all they were not going to pay for the workers to emigrate. They were looking for mostly healthy young males and single females who were 'mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong,' to use the phrase from an all too true song by Merle Travis, '16 Tons;' strong and biddable, like oxen.
At the same time the English wanted fewer Irishmen and didn't want to dirty their hands with any more Cromwellian massacres. So, what better way, then to get rid of the unwanted Irish by preventing them from owning land, and/or getting an education and encouraging the U.S. industry hucksters to lure all the excess strong, but unskilled and uneducated Irish away. Remember also that England quite deliberately severely limited industrial development in Ireland and Scotland to keep most of the greatest and most profitable manufacturing in England itself and keep its own English persons employed first. England itself did not need or want unlimited numbers of uneducated, unskilled Catholic Irish in its manufacturing centers. It was a wonderful marriage by these Protestants on both sides of the Atlantic, but one made in hell for the desperate Irish and Scots.
If a person came to the U.S. as a single young, healthy man, there was indeed a chance that one could survive the mills or working out of doors in all weather building railroads, or work in the mines who paid hard money instead of scrip, and save for a farm somewhere far to the west. There was far less chance if one came with a wife and children. There was no chance to save up to get out if the wife was still having children and few, if any, children were able to work. Worst of all, though, was working for either a railroad or mine that only paid in 'company scrip' that was not real money and could only be used to pay for rent or food from company owned housing on company land, or in company stores, where the prices were deliberately set so high to keep the workers stuck as employees until they died. 'Company scrip' good only at company properties and stores was literally a form of permanent indenture. The prices were so high in these monopolies that workers often ended up in debt after working 6 days a week 10-12 hour days and paying for lodging and food. Entire families would end up in debt with both parents and children as young as 8 years old working. To quote Merle Travis'16 tons' lyrics again, 'I owe my soul to the company store'.
The only difference between the mine and railroad workers and the African American slaves in the south was if the mine or railroad workers ran away, the mine or railroad workers didn't go looking for them because they could just get more illiterate Irish as they arrived on ships in New York.
The mine, mill and railroad owners also didn't care if the youngest children died of starvation or exposure, either. Those poor babes were just mouths that needed feeding, liabilities not assets. Feeding cost money, and the supplies as well, as prices of the food were controlled by the same mine owners paying the poor miners. God help the woman who didn't have enough milk of her own to feed her infants. The mine and railroad owners wouldn't.
To try to make ends meet, children as young as 8 and 9 were put to work by their parents under willing mine owners breaking up and sorting coal, and trying to stay out of the way of machinery moving it about and dumping new loads to be broken into smaller bits and sorted. There is no exact number of how many children died in the 'breakers' or from the amputations, cuts, and more that resulted in deadly secondary infections.
There are large parts of old Catholic church graveyards in all of the mining counties of Pennsylvania that appear empty but are not; this was where the thousands of children whose parents could not afford monuments, and died from coal breaking, malnutrition to even outright starvation, and exposure are buried, while the owners and supervisors of the mines enjoyed wealth and comfort. The Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania have never put the old parish registers on line, and it is hard to get the cooperation of the parish authorities even now to access the old registers and find the written scraps of the lives and deaths of the poor children, husbands, fathers and mothers who all died in Pennsylvania, sacrifices on the altar of Greed, (or Mammon).
Mining, which was vital to heating almost all homes in the eastern U.S. by the 1860's and most industry, and of course the running of all the railroads, was a big industry and big money for the owners, and upper managers and supervisors. It was nothing more than a death-trap for the poor Irish immigrants lured into it by the promise of enough money to save up for a piece of land of their own. Very few families that entered that trap escaped intact. There are many tens of thousands of forgotten graves of miners, and particularly their young children all over the now quiet mostly forest lands that cover the forgotten mines.
Many, to get out, did what Tony's great-grandmother did, when her beloved, but illiterate and unskilled, once strong and hopeful, Irish husband died. More women survived than men and children, and there weren't many decent, paid jobs for women at that time. They looked at their remaining children and then buried more than their husbands; they buried their past and married non-Irish. The non-Irish were literate, and had more skills and opportunities. The non-Irish could earn more money, real money, not just company scrip, and save up for land and get out. So many desperate Irish widows with starving children married non-Irish.
George Neubauer was an educated Bavarian Catholic, a widower who had recently lost his own wife and had four younger children who needed a mother. He took pity on the widow Mary Coyne-McNerney and her five remaining children, only one being a son, and married her. That was the last time she spoke Gaelic, for more than 15 years, until her brief third marriage to another Irishman in Minnesota. Mr. Neubauer spoke German and English, had the money, and his children were more numerous than hers.
He chose their next home, because he had the education and means; the Austrian-German community of Stearns County, Minnesota. Once re-settled in Watkins, they went to St. Anthony's Church, where only English and German were heard, never Gaelic. Within 30 years of the death of Michael McNerney, his youngest daughters' children had no idea they were partly Irish, at all. Their Irish blood and heritage that they still had within them had become just as forgotten as the graves of their father and five other children were left behind in Locust Gap, PA with no grave markers.
For over 50 years this was the same fate that awaited most Irish who emigrated to the U.S., hard work, early deaths and eventually, being forgotten by both their kin in Ireland and their own grandchildren in the U.S. It was a shock to Irish who came in the 1880's and 1890's to find so few Americans who descended from the 50 years of previous emigrants who acknowledged or remembered their Irish heritage and they deliberately made greater efforts to keep language and culture alive in their generation and build stronger communities.
However, it is still a shock today to more recent Irish emigrants and Irish government officials who seldom can find any Americans whose Irish ancestors arrived before sometime in the 1880's and remember and cherish them. Even when there is a dim memory of someone having been Irish, there is no understanding of that person's life, because there are so few records. As a result, too often, today, the heritage of Irish traditional music has no meaning when it is played or sung. If there is no longer any connection or memory to the real lives, experiences and culture of the people who first wrote, played or sang the music, there can be no life and soul in it now. It is like someone parroting, for some reason, the Latin 'pater noster' without knowing Latin, or having been raised and educated as a Christian.
That is why AmeriCeltic's mission begins with ‘restoring awareness' of this heritage to those who have lost their connection to it.
I have been researching my husband Tony's Irish family history, with a goal common to many persons who do family history, to identify and visit the old family areas in Ireland, and visit them some day. The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising would be a good opportunity. Our frustrations in finding these ancestors show the problems generally faced by millions attempting the same task. In almost no other area of family history research do the mix of politics, religion, and forced illiteracy, combine with emigration to make the task so difficult. The problem has roots on BOTH sides of the Atlantic.
For all these deprivation, tracing Tony's Irish grandmother, Mary Catherine McNerney (1872-1969), was very difficult. Just that surname presents a problem; there are five spellings, at least, depending upon who made the record and when, since most of the records after 1707 were NOT made by the family itself, or even other Catholic Irish. Early on, we had personal interviews with two of her children. One of the children, Tony's aunt Harriet, was older and her mother, Mary Catherine, had lived with her in her final years.
Harriet gave us a copy of a family tree that she herself had prepared long before we first asked her for help in the mid 1970's. The tree had a lot of data but few dates the earlier in time events occurred. As we were going over the tree, we interviewed Harriet further gleaning more data. Then there was the problem of Harriet's mother, Mary Catherine, having changed her memories and thus her stories as she aged and her descendants then having to figure out which place or event was true. This is common with older people and sometimes their memories for events long past sharpen with extreme old age, and just as often, it goes the other way--the memories worsen or change entirely. It's literally a 50-50 chance. So, we had to find corroborating documents, starting, of course, with 19th century U.S. documents.
In these family history searches, the census record, as simply a record, is only a beginning. One really needs ALL, or as many as can be found, children's names and some idea of the several possible spellings of most Irish surnames, plus the first name of at least one parent. For a smaller family (almost all in the old kingdom of Connaught in western Ireland and just a few counties), McNerney had, surprisingly, many variants in spelling--and families connected with them. In the early to mid 1600's, when the family was a 'somebody' family and owned land, the original spelling, McInerheny, barely resembles most of the later variants. Also, certain first names are VERY common: Michael, Patrick, John, Joseph, Mary... Mary is often, but not always used in combination with a lot of other names: Mary Margaret, Mary Catherine, Bridget Mary, and so on. God help you if all you've got is a Mary with a daughter named Mary as a starting point in your Irish family's research.
In many cases there is a real problem even with census records, wherever the family lived, Ireland, England, Canada or the U.S. Many Irish families who emigrated throughout the 19th century--literally in all decades, were illiterate, or all but the father started out illiterate until the first few years after the family settled in a place where discrimination on the basis of religion didn't also prevent public education. In Ireland, their own country, Catholics were not provided with universal public education. They had to buy private education, as they could afford it, from someone willing to provide education to Catholics. There were few schools attached to churches as Catholic churches themselves were often torn down or destroyed as the English conquerors tried to obliterate the religion. Between 1707 and sometime in the late 1800's, Irish Catholics, also, could not even own their own Irish land! So, understandably, few Irish Catholics could afford to have all their children privately educated and very few did. This resulted in many spellings of surnames as other literate persons, usually Protestants/English who had little regard for the Irish Catholics, made written records of them. It also meant there were few of their own family's written records until they got to a place and point in time when at least some of the children were educated, could read and write and wanted to keep a list of family data (such as often is on blank Bible pages at the beginning or end of a Bible), or journals, letters, etc..
So in Ireland, and for the first decade or so in the U.S., researchers into Irish families must rely on records made outside the family--usually some form of government records, or employers' records, or newspapers, etc. and few of these entities had any regard for the low-class, economically, politically and socially, Catholic Irish.
In fact, there were self-serving economic incentives for the employers, newspapers--who were supported by the employers, and the others to hide the actual lives and deaths of Irish; the reality could dissuade them from emigrating and being exploited by employers who wanted plenty of cheap labor for low class, often dangerous jobs.
There is a very good example. The historical incident, called 'The Duffy's Cut Massacre'. The facts of this atrocity only came to light 170 years after the fact. This illustrates just how much the miserable lives and deaths of many Irish emigrants were initially covered up when it happened in 1832. Modern researchers are still trying to find all the bodies. Fifty-seven Irish workers were massacred in a single valley where they worked as railroad laborers because a cholera epidemic that had appeared came to be blamed upon them. Private railroad papers, inherited in 2006 by an Irish descendant of a Pennsylvania Railroad executive, noted the deaths and said the report must ‘never get out' because if it did then other Irish would not want to emigrate and the railroads would not have workers.
It wasn't much different in the coal mining areas, as we discovered when we tried to find out how Mary Catherine McNerney's father, Michael McNerney, asl well as her oldest brother, and three sisters died in the small 'cooperative mining village' of Locust Gap, in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, where the family first settled. It was a place they tried to forget, almost as much as the mine owners wanted to forget them.
By the time Mary Catherine McNerney was sharing her memories and stories with her adult and near adult children (she had 11 who survived infancy and 10 who made it to adulthood), she could no longer remember the name of the hamlet in which she'd spent her earliest and most poverty stricken years, where so much of her family had died. She also had apparently gotten tired of explaining that although she was Irish she was not born in Ireland and started saying she had been born in Ireland. Likewise, since everyone knew where County Cork—mentioned in so many old songs-was, County Clare for her father's origins became County Cork. County Cork and County Clare are separated by pretty much the entire country of Ireland only adding to the research headaches.
Fortunately, for us, Aunt Harriet had sorted out some of the stories. Harriet had also known her maternal grandmother, Mary Catherine's mother, Mary Coyne, and Mary Coyne had not altered her memories or stories over time. So, she had a bit of data from the previous generation. However, even that had a problem. Harriet explained to us that the official death record for her grandmother was wrong and that we'd eventually see the problem. We did, alright. Harriet recorded her grandmother's maiden surname as Coyne and emphatically stated this and some particular circumstances of her grandmother's early life, some of which we later found in emigration records and the first U.S. census record for the family. She was correct, but it was another death record that was wrong--her own mother's, not her grandmother's. The death record for Mary Coyne-McNerney-Neubauer-Kennedy (she was married three times) was filled out in part by a son-in-law, but he got it right for Mary's maiden surname, 'Coyne.' This shows up in at least one other death record for a child of Mary's where the clerk asked for the MOTHER's maiden name. Then we checked the actual record for Harriet's own mother, and Harriet had been the person giving the information. Well, somewhere between the handwritten notes made by a doctor or nurse and the final typed version, someone lost part of the notes. The person who did the typing couldn't really remember what had been hand-written about Mary Catherine's mother's maiden name, just that it had an 'oy' in it, and typed 'Joyce.' After all, James Joyce was a famous, well-known Irish author and poet--just like County Cork was famous in song. If the name had an 'oy' in it, it must be 'Joyce,' right? Thank heavens we finally accumulated multiple records that agreed on the surname 'Coyne.' Now imagine the problem if one has only two records with two different surnames because clerks weren't particularly careful, and there were no other family records. It was only in recent weeks that we had accumulated enough records through records of the children and grandchildren of Michael and Mary, some only recently placed on-line, that we now know the following: Mary Coyne was actually Mary Anne Coyne and her parents were Michael and Cecilia Coyne, besides Mary Anne having a sister named Harriet. We're still missing the name of at least one daughter of Michael and Mary who died young at Locust Gap. This is after almost 40 years of research off and on by persistent and experienced persons.
However, now we had papers with enough names and birth and death data, and limited documentation on this side of the Atlantic. Next, we had to find cross references to the records in Ireland, and some in England as well, and here's where it really gets ugly--for everyone doing Irish family research. The Irish stupidly help their English oppressors destroy their own Irish heritage and history.
Though promised independence at the end of WWI, by 1922 Ireland had not yet received it and violence began anew. Britain and the United Kingdom could not get into the League of Nations without giving up Ireland and had been dragging its feet. So, as part of this renewed violence, the Irish Republican Army, (IRA) used Public Records Office (PRO) in Dublin as a munitions storage depot, and when the British shelled it, two truck loads of lignite outside the PRO exploded, triggering two more explosions within, and 1000 years of Irish State and Religious archives were destroyed.
Unfortunately, this didn't destroy land and tax records for the Anglo-Irish or Protestant Irish or English families, it destroyed tax records for everyone. More significantly, the IRA fire-bombing destroyed the records that identified the population, their major life-events such as baptisms and marriages, and also connected them to places. It destroyed records going back to when native Irish and Norman-Anglo-Irish families were pretty much all that was in most of Ireland and still lived in ancestral areas and still owned their own lands. It destroyed also CHURCH records--all the baptismal registers, marriage registers burial registers, the records of where the old cemeteries were, where the old villages associated with the churches were, for both families who were members of the Church of Ireland (to which many formerly Catholic Irish belonged after 1707, to retain lands) and the remaining Catholic Irish. All churches had, at the end of the 19th century, been required to send their old registers to the PRO. It also destroyed the Irish census made and collected by the UK beginning in 1831, and being taken every 10 years afterward.
As a result of this IRA bombing, there are no longer any Irish census records prior to 1911, or at best, a few bits and pieces where copies were made of some civil parish in a particular county and retained somehow in that county. There are no church records prior 1922 unless the church failed to send the registers to the PRO or some far-sighted deacon/rector or priest made a hand-written copy and kept a copy in the church, or sent it to some regional library. There are some genealogies prepared from original records and these copies of church records that were made in the Registered Church Body (RCB) library in Dublin. These include records from a few Catholic churches as well as Protestant.
These collections vary in size. We went through the on-line catalog of collections and identified about 50 large sets of such records that could be made available to family history researchers. Few, however, are on-line. Between them, the library policies and bank transfer regulations don't make it easy to pay to get even a single collection on-line. We succeeded with one smaller collection costs about $400 to get on-line--and the bank fees to transfer funds from the U.S. to Ireland and convert dollars to Euros are ridiculously high, given that the only things that are really moving these days are electrons representing numbers; about 10-12% of the transaction above the actual transaction cost.
Some of these 50 collections are very large. Most of County Cork, ironically, did have foresighted local church officials, unlike other counties. And actually, all of the deeds, including many lease agreements that had to be recorded in the same office, were NEVER in the Public Records Office, but in the Registry of Deeds which was spared. So, the majority of destruction in 1922 was to Irish history, particularly family and Catholic Church history, and not land ownership and taxation. However, though the deeds and most leases are complete, going back even before 1707 to the 1500's, and then forward to the present day, none of it is on-line. Not even a complete deed index with a tad of abstract is on-line. In fact, for deeds before 1831, they are not indexed on an in-house computer. If you had any ancestral family who might have owned land and emigrated before, say, 1840, the only way to find a deed or lease record about them is to go to Dublin and visit the Registry of Deeds IN PERSON, or employ a researcher there--and those are not inexpensive. In the U.S., the going hourly rate for a professional family history researcher is anywhere from about $20 an hour to about $60 an hour. In the UK, it's about triple that or more; in Ireland, it's about $50 an hour and up.
Well, we thought we had a little hope in determining more about the families with the unique bits about Mary Catherine's mother that Harriet had written down, and which showed up in a few records on this side of the Atlantic. We found the January, 1866, emigration record for Mary Coyne McNerny and her oldest two children--which exactly matched data in the 1870 census record in Locust Gap, Mt. Carmel township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. The family first went to Liverpool, England, just before emigration in 1865 and 1866. The ship, indeed, arrived from Liverpool in New York. A surprise was that the oldest two sons John and Joseph were actually also born IN ENGLAND. However, Mary Coyne McNerney had lived in England for a time before her marriage. She had been enrolled in a private school in England for a year or so. However, she was mistreated by schoolmates and teachers for being Irish and complained to her parents and they pulled her out. She never went to school again and what little education she obtained was at home. It was very little and she was functionally illiterate and described as such on all U.S. records. We found through English census records that were indeed, Coyne families that had gone to England and one family had enrolled its daughter in a private school not far from Liverpool and Manchester where most of the few Coyne families lived in Lancashire. It's very possible that Mary had been enrolled at this very school, but not proved. This all suggested that Mary Coyne married Michael McNerney in England, shortly before the birth of their eldest son. Unfortunately, though we found records of both families in the Liverpool / Manchester area at the right time, the particular families did not line up with the data we had. For one thing, the marriage for Mary Coyne to Michael McNerny was written down by Harriet and consistently stated on other records, including a census record, as having occurred in 1854--and in Ireland. We found two marriage index records for a Mary Coyne in England, but for 1857 and 1859. So, what historical documents exist show that the marriage did not occur in England. However, though it probably did occur in Ireland, the marriage record per se, either no longer exists because it was part of the parish registers destroyed in the PRO, or it will be very hard to find, because the bishopric of Tuam doesn't have all it's parish registers online, and we don't know in which parish the marriage was performed.
We have to hope that 'Mr. Coyne,' Mary's somewhat well-off father, left a will and related deed of sale after his death that all ended up in the Registry of Deeds, that mentions a wife named Cecilia, and two daughters, Mary and Harriet, among children who lived long enough to be 'heirs at law' and identifies his daughter, Mary as 'Mary McNerney.' County Clare, where the McNerney's lived, and adjacent Galway, one of the two counties where Coynes were most prevalent, have fewer copies of records in the RCB Library. It also makes it more likely that John was not the oldest child, at least one or two more were born who died before the family emigrated, or were living in England.
From 1815 onwards, Liverpool was a major port of emigration for millions of Irish and here is why and how. The poorer Irish Catholics were uneducated and thus not skilled labor and, if they had owned land, owned very little. There was very little money to use for emigration until the would-be emigrant made his way to a city with docks or heavy manufacturing to work for a time to earn money to emigrate. Liverpool and Manchester, both in Lancashire, had both huge docks and a massive, labor-intensive, shipping loading and unloading industry, as well as heavy manufacturing. There was good money to be made if one lived long enough to use it.
Many rural Irishmen went to the Cities of Cork or Dublin, or hopped a ferry across to Liverpool or Glasgow, worked until they saved passage money, then took a boat for New York from those cities. On the ship's manifest, it would have said, 'arrived from Cork/Liverpool' etc., and that's another way the stories got started that would have all Irish Americans believe they all originally came from County Cork. It looks like, though, in our Coyne-McNerney's case, Michael McNerney and Mary Coyne hopped back and forth across the Irish Sea a couple of times before emigrating. There's no marriage record for them in England, and they are not on the 1861 census record, yet their sons, John and Joseph were born in England, in 1859 and 1863, respectively. A baby son, Michael, was said to have died at sea during the emigration. 'Steerage' was an apt description of the two lowest classes of transport (3rd and 4th) for the lack of generally healthful conditions at the time. However, the ship's manifest did not show any extra baby born and died during the passage, so the best evidence is he was actually born and died upon arrival in either New York or Pennsylvania. The mother of the child was emphatic about his existence and the connection with the time of emigration, and the oldest brother remembered the baby as well, but no one had a written record of the birth and death in the family because when it happened, no one could read or write at that time. Although they were Catholic and would have given the child a proper funeral, we don't know exactly which parish in which state in the U.S. the poor baby died. This is a typical problem of families who arrived in New York City and were only there a few weeks or so and yet lost a child at that time. The same is true of an older child marrying, particularly a daughter. No family record means no location for the event making it very hard to find that daughter again.
After our own experiences, we conclude that IF the Irish government and the National Board of Tourism really wants to help Irish Americans discover their Irish roots, and so have a sense of belonging and a reason to visit any more than Dublin, then both must work, and put some money into getting those 50 or more collections of church records and genealogies on-line at the Registered Church Body Library, likewise the private family collections at the Library of the Royal Irish Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and all the pre 1911 or 1922 deeds and leases at the Registry of Deeds.They also need to make certain that all the Catholic Registers are at the National Library of Ireland (NLI) or Roots Ireland, (the paid subscription site) as well as fully indexed (the current index at NLI is inadequate). Otherwise, not many tourists are going much further than Dublin, or Cork, and the few most famous general historical/archeological sites, and even fewer will ever know or feel a real connection with their real Irish roots.
Meanwhile, we're looking for family Bible records on this side of the Atlantic from descendants of the oldest surviving son and daughter who lived to adulthood, of Mary Coyne and Michael McNerney, and then Mary Catherine McNerney and John Henry Beckers, that might narrow down the search a little more and lower the expenses of hiring professional Irish researchers, and hoping to get this all done before April, 2016.