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Monday, January 10, 2011

My Flanagan's - Not Your Stereotypical Irish - 19th Century

I recently found an article on about Irish immigrants to New York.  As I read through the article, I thought to myself, "Well, I guess these points and facts probably all apply to my Irish immigrant least the ones who went to New York City."   I thought about my McLaughlin's who emigrated from Ireland via Quebec to upstate New York in Herkimer County.   There experience was completely different from those Irish who emigrated to New York City.  And an even different experience was had by my Flanagan's.

A bit of a sharp contrast of typical Irish immigration is demonstrated when I look at my Flanagan's experiences.  First and foremost, they did not leave Ireland for the U.S.  Patrick and Michael Flanagan went from Ireland to Liverpool, England to Melbourne Australia to New Zealand and then to California.  The typical path of immigration to the U.S. was from Ireland to the east coast of the U.S., particularly New York City.

Many Irish left Ireland to escape the potato crop failure and starvation.  My Flanagan's did not have any documented suffering from this event.  Patrick and Michael left in 1857 after the the time frame of the famine.  A large portion of Irish immigrants were poor.  I can't say that Patrick and Michael were wealthy.  They really weren't but they knew how to find jobs and make money.  They were also educated.  Whether they had been home schooled or actually attended some sort of schooling, I do not know.  However, unlike many Irish of the time, they were literate with the ability to read and write very well.  They also had skills which included farming and some ingenuity.

Another point that I find interesting and almost contradictory in terms, is that my Flanagan's were Roman Catholics from Ireland who were educated.  Many Catholics in Ireland were not at the time.  The article discusses that Protestant Irish were well accepted in the U.S. but Roman Catholics were not.  It was probably a very wise choice that Patrick and Michael Flanagan did not emigrate to New York City.  The path that they took led them through much less disappointment for sure.  It does not appear that they were discriminated against in either Australia, New Zealand, or Napa, CA.

Sometimes the path less traveled can be the best choice.

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