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Author: John T. Ridge

Publication Year: 2003

Journal Volume: 17

Article Reference: NYIHR-V17-03

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The County Longford Colony in New York—Part 1

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The second part of this article will appear involume 18 of New York Irish History.more populous counties of the country and thosealong the less prosperous western seaboard sentthe largest number of its sons and daughtersabroad. When Longford is compared to theseDON'T MISScounties, its part in the history of Irish emigra-to other places and ranked only twenty-fourthIllustration:among all the Irish counties in numbers.

Advertisement for Counties like Cork, with 545,085 emigrants,annual outing ofthe County Longford Antrim with 284,836, Kerry with 234,716 andmen's association thatran in the Irish Only within the province of Leinster itself-Advocate on August 4,where Longford ranked fifth among the eleven1904. From the JohnMEN'SASSOCIATIONcountiesdo Longford's numbers take on anyCourtesy of John Ridge.To Orchard Beach on the Soundsignificance.?On Sunday, August 7, 1904, 1,Tickets Admitting Lady and Gentle-far as Longford itself was concerned, its emi-man 50c. Extra Lady 250.Steamer and the Barges Starina,foot of East 81 at street 11 asharp,returning positively not later thanBetween 1851 and 1891 gration had a staggering effect. an average of more than a 1,000 peoplethan 2,000 emigrants. The largest record wasestablished in 1852 when 3,453 left, but 1870with 2,546 and 1851 with 2,532 were also bigemigration years.3The tradition of emigration from Longfordstarted in 1729 when the Presbyterian communi-John Ridge is a formersituated in the Irish Midlands andCharles Clinton, made a group exodus to Newpresident of the New Yorkborders the provinces of Ulster andYork. The Clinton family left their mark on theConnacht. In 1851 the population of the coun-young republic contributing both a governorand currently serves as itsvice president for localty was82,368. With the single exception ofof New York and vice president of the Unitedhistory. He is the authorCounty Carlow, it was the least populatedof numerous books on thecounty in Ireland for most of the nineteenthStates. A steady flow of mainly Protestant emi-grants followed, but by the 1820s Romanhistory of the Irish in Newcentury. Of the total population of IrelandYork, including TheFlatbush Irish; Sligo in(6,552,385), it represented but a tiny 1.26 % ofCatholics began to send large numbers of theirown to America.4New York; The St.the total, slipping to below 1% by 1926. In areaPatrick's Day Parade,it is the third smallest county with only CarlowFarrell Sheridan, complained in 1835 that eco-and Erin's Sons inand Louth having less area.'When one speaks of emigration fromduring the previous decades as a result of theIreland, County Longford is not one of thefailure of the linen trade, rack rents, reduction in©2003. Published with per-counties that evoke much of a response. Thethe price of agricultural produce, and the want ofNew York -Part 1tion seems small indeed. Between 1851 and1920 County Longford sent 61,412 emigrantsSEVENTHENTHGRAND ANNUAL EXCUURSIONOYLONGFORDGalway with 227,666 far outpaced Longford.S. & B.T. Ridge Collection.THE EFFECT AND TRADITON OF EMIGRATIONMusic by Professor WARD:Nelson and Summer will leave the10 p.m.Pounty Longford is an inland countyty at Corbay, organized in part by ColonelIrish History RoundtableThe parish priest of Granard, ReverendAmerica--The Ancientnomic conditions in the area had deterioratedOrder of Hibernians.mission of John T. Ridge.Vol.17, 2003 PAGE 22employment. Emigrants chose North Americato reflect a shift as immigrants from the northernoverwhelmingly.5Up to and for a time after the Great Hungerhalf of the county become more numerous.°there are nostatistics available to pinpoint theWhile two of the largest years of Longfordemigration occurred in the period of the Greatoverall destinations of the Longford emigrants.Hunger, conditions did not afterward improve.A glance at theThe New York Tabletnumerous obituaries,reported in 1863 thatdeath notices, andthe conditions of themissing personsTHElaboring class wereadvertisements inthose of extreme pover-TOty,and "this prospectCatholic newspapers86th Street, Near Third Avenue.extends to many arti-leads one to the con-ONsans and once comfort-able housekeepers." Athe newcomers madefew weeks later thetheir way to farms inTICKETS, Admitting Gentleman, Including Wardrobe, 50 CENTSLADIES 25 CENTS,same paper reportedthe Midwest and toOFFICERS -that "people are leavingcities outside ofFinancial Secretary; 1 J. Quinn, Recording Secretary; Matt. Farrell,New York, likeDr. John Lennon, Physician.Thomas Mullen,Thomas Manning,• ARRANGEMENT COMMITTEE -John Christie, Chairman; M. McDermott, Secretary; John: Quinn, DanielBoston, Philadelphia,and Jersey City.principally forA small numberAmerica."grants appear in Kevin Rich's first volumeA COLONY IN BROOKLYN(1850-1853) on the Emigrant Savings BankEven in the 1840s there is some evidence of arecords. Only 42 of the 1,509 entries mention adeveloping Longford colony in Brooklyn, wheregrants had lived in the City for less than fivemany of the immigrants eventually relocated. ABrooklyn branch of the United Irish Repealyears, but one depositor was a resident for twen-Illustrations:ty-six years. Almost all the depositors whose exactAssociation, an organization dedicated to theplace of origin could be deciphered came fromrepeal of the union between Britain and Ireland,Above-Ad for the Countyfirst annual ball appearingthe southern half of the county or the Granardwas organized in 1843. In the next year manyin the Gaelic American fortheir contribution of one or two dollars.December 6, 1917.and there was one particularly large group ofCollection.Right-A rare photographWard near the Navy Yard."From its inception Brooklyn's largest daily,Excursion in 1904. This isthe earliest surviving photothe Brooklyn Eagle, carried many death notices ofof members in New YorkCity. From the John T.1865 and 1880 alone there were 203 noticesRidge Collection.which indicated an exact place of origin inand Carrickedmond. All three parishes were closearea where landlord tenant disputes had beenespecially bitter. Only a handful came from theto one another and located southeast of Longfordpoorer northern half of the county, but thewereEmigrant Bank records within: few yearsrepresented, the southern half of the countyseemwas predominant. Only a quarter of the noticesNEW YORK 1R1SH HISTORYTwo Halls-31st GRAND ANNUAL BALL -Two BandsCOUNTY LONGFORD MEN'S S. & B. ASS'NIrish-American andHELDYORKVILLE CASINOclusion that many ofSATURDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 8, 1917Music by Prof. McIntyre's I. V. BandM. Sheridan, President; Patrick McNally, Vice-President; John • Masterson,Treasurer; Francis Nannery, Sergeant-at-Arms;the neighborhood ofTRUSTEES •Longford,New Orleans,James Sheridan.Edgeworthstown andSheeran, B. Brady, Thomas Doyle, Patrick Kiernan, Frank Quinn, Michael Mo-Cabe, James •Lennon, B. Corrigan JKenny, J. Duke, Thomass-Kelly.Granard every week,jerreinret Me Weemys Mich tR Relusof Longford immi-Longford origin. Most of the Longford immi-Longford association's thirty-donors indicated a Longford origin along withLongford far outnumbered any other county,From the John T. RidgeLongford donors located in Brooklyn's Fourthof members at the LongfordLongford-born people. In the period betweenLongford, and 39.3% of these came from justthree small Longford parishes -Legan, Ardagh,town. Although almost all the Longford parishesVol.17, 2003 PAGE 23came from the parishes of the populous andpoorer northern half of the county.'were to be found in Irish neighborhoods all overthe course of fifty-two weeks by the Irish NationBrooklyn, but there were three main areas of con-newspaper. This record is probably the only sur-viving information as recorded by the Newrounded the Navy Yard from the waterfront onYork State officials who manned Castle Gardenits western side, com-before EllisIsland replacedstretched south andit in 1893. It isa unique recordIllustration:then east in the direc-because it showsmen and women innot only theuniform beforeParish on Kent Avenue.county of originmarching in theIt appears likely thatin Ireland, butSt. Patrick's DayParade in Newmany found employ-also the state ofYork in 1940.destination in theFrom the John T.Navy Yard itself.United States.Ridge Collection.Another concentrationWhile only 29%Courtesy of John T.Ridge.was located in what wasof Mayo immi-then called South Brooklyn (Cobble Hill to Redgrants were headed for New York, the percent-Hook). The third settlement was apparently adeveloping community on the edge of the settledportion of the city south of Atlantic Avenue, eastthe city made its presence much more notableof Flatbush Avenue and west of Washingtonthan if it had been dispersed more evenly acrossAvenue and north of Prospect Park. After 1880death notices mention this third area much morethe country. A relatively high number of immi-frequently. Death notices often included parishgrants and a heavy concentration to New Yorknames like St. James, St. Anne's, Our Lady ofmade a county with barely 1% of Ireland's pop-Mercy, St. Agnes, St. Peter's, and St. Joseph's.Irish community.12Several streets are each cited at least five times inLongford's impact is evident in the reminis-Navy (7), York (5), and Warren (5),10Biddy Gilroy, in 1891. She recalled that fiftyyears before her rough-and-tumble neighbor-the Irish dead in Brooklyn's main Romanhood in the Eleventh Ward, just to the southCatholic cemetery, Holy Cross, the largestof the Navy Yard, was a battleground betweennumber of interments came from Longford-256. This constituted an incredible 12% of thetotal and far exceeded the numbers from largeSignificantly, she recalled it was not just onecounties like Cork and Kerry. A county adja-county waged against another, but an entireprovince, Connacht, engaged in a faction fighthad (with 139) high number of burials.with just a single county. According to a reportThese numbers suggest a high regional emigra-in the Brooklyn Eagle:The inborn ill feeling between thetion from the two counties and especially thenatives of Connaught [sic] and Countypartof the Longford closest to Westmeath."There is no question that an extraordinarilyLongford living in Brooklyn was very pro-large number of immigrants from Longford set-ed many bloody fights. Mrs. Gilroy wasto surpass any other of Ireland's counties. Invery proud of the fact that she was born inasConnaught. In common with her race shecompilation of more than 30,000 immigrantsNEW YORK 1R15H HISTORYarriving in 1882, the pattern of Longford pref-erence for New York is clearly evident. SomeThe residences of the Longford immigrants536 Longford immigrants were recorded overcentration. The bulk of the Longford people sur-prising Brooklyn's oldIrishtown, andCOUNTY LONGFORDCountry Longfordtion of St. Patrick'sSHEMENS S. B. ASSOCIATIONment as laborers in theage of Longford arrivals was 72%, the highestof any county. Longford's concentrated flow toulation much more significant in the City'sdeath notices, like Tillary (11), Hudson (11),cence by an old Irish-born resident of Brooklyn,In the late Joseph M. Silinonte's book onher Connacht neighbors and the Longford men.cent to Longford, County Westmeath, alsonounced a half century ago and precipitat-tled in Brooklynand in such a concentrationVol.17, 2003 was ever ready for a personal encounter with a native of County Longford. The latter were known as 'long tails.' She alleged to have been frequently arrested for her participation in brawls growing out of her hatred for her 'long tail' neighbors. She carried her propensities in this respect so far that she became famous the city over. 13 Longford people were soon, however, to make the climb up the proverbial ladder in a far more peaceful and significant manner.

Notes 1 Vaughan, W. E. and Fitzpatrick, A. J., eds., Irish Historical Statistics: Population, 1821-1971, Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, 1978, p. 5-16. 2 ibid., p. 269-298. 3 ibid., p. 281-283. 4 Gillespie, Raymond and Moran, Gerard, eds., Liam Kennedy, Kerby A. Miller and Mark Graham, "Protestants, Economy and Society 1660-1926," in Longford: Essays in County History, The Lilliput Press, Dublin, 1991, p.38. 5 ibid., p. 43. 6 Rich, Kevin J., Irish Immigrants of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, 1850-1853, Volume I, Broadway-Manhattan Company, New York, 2000, p. XI. 7 New York Tablet, May 2 and June 20, 1863. 8 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 2 and December 11,1843 and March 16, 1843. 9 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1865-1880. 10 Only occasionally a church is mentioned in the death notices since funeral services were not always held at a church at this time. 11 Silinonte, Joseph M., Tombstones of the Irish Born: Cemetery of the Holy Cross , Flatbush, Brooklyn, privately published, Brooklyn, 1992, p.107. 12 Irish Nation, New York, 1882. 13 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 15, 1891. page 24New York Irish History Vol.17, 2003 NYIHR_P21Ridge_V17.qxd 1/4/05 7:45 PM Page 24