Thursday, 18 March 2010

St Patrick's Day

I was reading the blog of an Irishwoman this morning. She felt it was rather strange that people who don't live in Ireland seem to make more fuss of St Patrick's day than the currently Irish.
In honour of St Patrick's day, which we don't celebrate, I would like to remember my one known Irish ancestress, Mary Mitchell, who arrived in Australia on the 6th of December 1848 as an assisted immigrant, straight from a Roman Catholic orphanage in Galway. She was 16 years old when she arrived, and married a 24 year old Welsh immigrant miner in a Presbyterian church within 3 months of her arrival, which was no doubt the intent of the British Government. She had 6 children who survived birth in the gold fields. I am the fifth generation since Mary.
My life is not so tough. I am lucky that Mary emigrated.
What were you doing when you were 16?


Carol said...

It always amazes me when I hear stories like Mary's. My ancestor, Emanuel Neich, arrived here in 1828 as a deckhand on a ship departing from his home in Genoa, Italy (one of the first Italians to arrive here). He didn't know where the ship was going. He, too, was 16. When I was that age I was still at school and could not have contemplated a life in a place I knew nothing about. I'm sure life was tough for Mary, but perhaps not so tough as if she had remained in that Catholic Orphanage in Galway. Last year I fully researched the Italian side of my family, now you have inspired me to research the other side, which is Irish.

Uta said...

That is amazing. I also think it's the reason Australian seem to be from a "special stock" (can I say that?). When I was 16, I went to the US for a year as an exchange student. Hadn't I had a return ticket and adamant parents, I would no doubt have stayed there and had at least 6 children (my boyfriend at the time was Mormon)!!

Joy said...

I love reading other people's genealogy stories. My Irish ancestors went to New York instead (:

tippchic said...

I commented elsewhere yesterday that it is not as big a deal here in Ireland. Perhaps its because the people who left needed a day to put on their rose-tinted glasses? and celebrate where they came from even when who and what they were was regarded as subhuman- ref. No Dogs, no blacks, no irish?
See also Joseph O'Connor's Star of The Sea for many contemporaneous descriptions. Maureen

Anonymous said...

1848: Irish potato famine. I have ancestors that came to the US around the same time, around the same age. Bridget and Mickel Roach. He died shortly after, having become a coal miner in Illinois, leaving her with two tiny children, whom she gave to her brother-in-law to raise (in Oklahoma Territory) as she had no way to support them. She ended up living with another miner in Chicago, keeping house. Yeah, lot of fun. Possibly still better than Ireland at the time though.

At 16 I went to Denmark as an exchange student, very excited. It was fun to be in a foreign country and learn a new language. But I wouldn't have wanted to never see my family again for sure, not to mention having children at that age!

gail said...

my german grandmother left home at 16 (was forced?) and came to america with her aunt and was basically child slave to her aunts household til she married. i think back then, 16 was the age of adulthood for many. lots of folks only went to school thru 8th grade.

at 16 i was still 2 years away from highschool graduation, and years away from marriage and babies. times were different then.