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    Primary documents

    Friday, July 24th, 2009

    Archives of the Irish experience throughout the world can be found in destination countries, and some of these are online. These are useful for scholars but are also fun for just browsing around – there’s a host of gems here!


    Archive of the Irish in Britain


    Archives of Irish America – Includes several exhibitions, including an oral history project called “New York Stories?.

    Library of Congress Memory Project: Immigration


    The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf – an exhibition of Irish-Canadian documentary materials held by Library and Archives Canada

    Moving Here, Staying Here: The Canadian Immigrant Experience

    The Ships List – Comprehensive set of documents related to ships and the immigrant experience around the world.


    Australia: Convict Transportation database

    More on Irish convicts at Irish Convicts Transported to Australia

    Leaving from Liverpool – an excellent educational site highlighting the experience of migration to Australia through the port of Liverpool.

    Latin America

    Society for Irish Latin-American Studies

    Emigration-related heritage centers

    Friday, July 24th, 2009

    There are several heritage centres around Ireland with an emigration-related theme. Here are a few:

    Jeannie Johnston

    On-board museum highlighting the ship’s 16 voyages to America, in which the ship never lost any of its 2,500 passengers. Purchased as a cargo ship in 1848 by a Tralee merchant, it was used to transport emigrants over the next seven years.

    Cobh Heritage Centre, Cork

    Museum tells the story of the port of Cobh, the single most important point of embarkation and the 2.5 million people who departed there between 1848 and 1950.

    Ulster-American Folk Park, Tyrone

    Open-air, living-history museum telling the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Dunbrody Emigrant Ship, Wexford:

    Replica of three-masted barque built in Quebec that carried emigrants to New World from 1845 to 1870.

    For more information on emigration-related cultural institutions around the world, see UNESCO’s Migration Institution’s website.

    Emigration in film: a select list of documentaries

    Friday, July 24th, 2009

    A number of documentaries have been made about emigration over the years; here’s a list of some of them, with links to where you may purchase them. (Before purchasing any DVD, make sure it is compatible with your region.)

    Celtic Waves: The Flow of Irish Emigration – An excellent introductory video focusing on emigration from Famine to Celtic Tiger period.

    Irish Empire: The complete five-part series about the Irish abroad.

    Five videos by Bob Quinn:

    • Damhsa an Deoraí (The Emigrant Dance): Story of the Galtymore Ballroom in London 50 minutes, subtitled, 2002.
    • Graceville: The Connemaras in Minnesota (50 mins, subtitled)
    • Pobal in Deutschland: Conamara emigrants in Germany. (½ hour)
    • Pobal in Boston: Conamara emigrants in the USA. (½ hour)
    • Pobal in London: Conamara emigrants in London  (½ hour)

    Emigration-related Radharc films: available through Radharc

    • Travellers of Murphy Village – Irish Travellers in the US
    • From Beara to Butte – Mining links between Cork and what was once the most Irish city in America
    • Emigration and the Single Woman
    • The Gaucho Irish – The Irish of Argentina
    • The Black Irish – the Irish of Montserrat in the Caribbean
    • The French Connection
    • When Ireland starved – the exodus – part 4
    • Boat Train to Euston
    • Oldbury Camp
    • The Tatie Hawkers
    • Goodbye to Glocamorro

    Philip Donnellan’s The Irishmen – a moving portrait of Irish workers in Britain in the 1960s (I cannot find a DVD of this)

    An Bothar Fada– The experience of the Irish who emigrated to post-war Britain.

    Out of Ireland – Irish Emigration to America

    Rotha Mor an Tsaoil – The Hard Road to Klondike – a documentary based on the book. (£25 from Faction Films)

    Of Stars and Shamrocks – Chronicles the migration of  Russian Jews of the pogroms and Famine Irish into Boston.

    Hidden History: Duffy’s Cut- the mystery of the death of 57 Irish railway workers in Pennsylvania

    Home: The Movie – an Irishman in post-September 11 New York

    Memory Brings Us Back – Irish Stories of Farewells and Fortunes – Splendid! A moving, powerful depiction of older Irish emigrants in New York.

    “I Only Came Over for a Couple of Years” records experience of London Irish

    Monday, May 11th, 2009

    Yet another oral history project detailing the experience of elderly Irish emigrants has come to your correspondent’s attention. “I Only Came Over for a Couple of Years”, a documentary that was completed in 2005, is now available on DVD from the Irish Studies Centre of London Metropolitan University. The film is a collection of interviews of Irish elders who came over to London between the 1930s and 1960s.

    The DVD is a production of the Irish Elders Now project, which is aimed at building a substantial video and oral record of a generation of Irish migrants to Britain whose stories and experiences have been underrepresented in other official records.

    For more information and to order the DVD, visit the Irish Studies Centre website.

    Surfing film highlights Irish role in origins of sport

    Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

    The role of Irish-American George Freeth in establishing the modern sport of surf-boarding is explored in a film now playing in movie theatres. Waveriders tells the story of Freeth, who had a Hawaiian mother and an Irish father. He brought the sport of surfing from Hawaii, where it had nearly been eliminated by missionaries, to California, where he initiated a revival of the sport. Freeth also set up the first lifeguard unit in California and introduced the sport of water polo to the state.

    The film, which won the audience award at the Dublin International Film Festival, also highlights the role of Irish-Americans in establishing the sport in Ireland.

    Related sites:

    Mystery of immigrants’ mass grave may be solved

    Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

    The mass grave of a group of Irish railroad workers who died in 1832 during a cholera outbreak may have been located at last, thanks to the efforts of researchers in Pennsylvania who have spent six years searching.

    The 57 men had arrived from Derry, Donegal, and Tyrone, hired by fellow Irishman Philip Duffy to build the railway. They were all dead within six weeks, felled by a cholera outbreak – and researchers believe some men may have been murdered. Their families were never notified, and the men would have been forever forgotten had Immaculata University professor William Watson and his historian brother Frank not discovered a mention of the deaths in a file owned by their late grandfather, a former railway worker.

    The men were believed to have been buried somewhere in Duffy’s Cut, an area near Philadelphia, but the exact location of their remains was unknown until a team led by the Walsh brothers and professors at Immaculata University began a search in 2003.

    It wasn’t until last week that the team discovered human remains. Researchers are now hoping to match DNA recovered from the bodies with that of families in Ireland in order to identify the remains and re-bury them in Ireland. They have used ships passenger lists to discover fifteen of the 57 men’s names.

    News of the find has been widely reported in the US.  The men’s story has been told in a film, “The Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut”,  which is available on the Duffy’s Cut project website.

    Related webpages:

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