Céad míle fáilte

“Céad míle fáilte” or “a hundred thousand welcomes”

In what no doubt amounts to a sign of time-planning optimism, I have commenced yet another blog. This one will focus on the emigrants from East County Clare, with emphasis on those to Australia.

The term “East Clare” is perhaps a bit woolly. My precise definition is the combined baronies of Tulla Upper and Tulla Lower, or roughly the geographic line east of Ennis. Quite a lot of these parishes belonged to the Limerick Union so that’s something to consider as well.

Why this bout of further blogging madness you might ask. Regular readers will have heard often of the challenge of finding anything at all about my Mary O’Brien’s migration experience. One thing led to another and I found myself with clues pointing to deals done between a small group of men and the Parish Priest in Broadford to assist young people to emigrate.

This was heavily focused in the 1860s when the USA was a much less pleasant prospect, thanks to their civil war. Later I was to learn that I had been retracing the footsteps of one of Australia’s Irish research giants, Dr Richard Reid, but at the time this was a wondrous personal discovery. Richard has been wonderfully supportive with my project over the time since then including inviting me to speak on it at the Shamrock in the Bush, 2009.

In 2006 I completed an Advanced Diploma of Local History online through Oxford University. For my final two assignments I developed and built a database of identifiable east Clare emigrants to eastern Australia, predominantly to New South Wales. I also crunched numbers to see how they compared with their peers at home at the time of the previous census.

The main Australian sources I used were:

  1. Immigration Deposit Journal entries where the person lived in Broadford or east Clare or where the referee was Fr John Burke, PP
  2. Board Immigrant Lists on microfilm from State Records of New South Wales

Complemented by:

  1. Parish register from Broadford, Co Clare
  2. Griffith Valuations
  3. Irish census records

At the time I limited my immigrants to the period 1848 to 1872. Unfortunately Queensland’s immigration data is very poor in terms of identifying more than county of origin, so that has been a major handicap. Over the intervening years I’ve dabbled with the project but kept hitting my head on a brick wall. I’ve still got documents which can be incorporated into the research project, but I had basically shelved it for the time being.

Meanwhile along has come Trove, and who could begin to imagine just how much difference it could make to our individual family histories, but also to a one-place/one-region study of this sort.

I’ve been trawling Trove this weekend and it seems there’s a surfeit of news stories about emigrants who came to Australia. These stories turn up mainly at the time of their deaths or marriages, as might be expected.

So what’s the blog going to be about? In the first instance I’ll be focusing on Broadford, Mary O’Brien’s home village.

It will definitely include lots of news stories and obituaries. It will probably include some cemetery photos where I’ve photographed people with East Clare origins.

I’m also thinking it would be good to have some guest posts, written by people whose own ancestors came from East Clare.

So here’s your chance. If your ancestors came from East Clare (to Australia, Canada, USA, wherever), please comment, and feel free to volunteer to write a post to share with us all. Also if you happen across anyone who fits the bill please let me know, even if you’re not related.

The photos of East Clare towns and townlands are ones I’ve taken during visits to Ireland. If you have photos of other places which you’re willing to let me use in the headers I’d be very pleased to add them, as well as very grateful.