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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Priest Discovers Irish Women

From Irish Voice, posted Dec. 21, 2005:

Forgotten Irish Women Found by Priest

By Sean O' Driscoll

Father Peter Meehan opens up a giant ledger and peers down its pages. Mary from Co. Donegal, age 18, was going to a cousin’s house in New York.

Sheila from Cork was going to Brooklyn. Maire from Kerry is staying in the Bronx.

One 8-year-old McCarthy girl was going to an aunt and uncle on Pearl Street in Manhattan.

In the four ledgers he keeps at Our Lady of the Rosary church in downtown Manhattan are the lives of over 60,000 Irish women who were forced from poor houses and on to emigrant ships in the 19th and early 20th century.

He found them in a vault in the church at the tip of Manhattan, where once an organization called the Our Lady of the Rosary for the Protection of Irish Immigrant Girls provided temporary shelters for young women to keep them from the pimps, thieves and sweatshop owners who lined the docks looking for easy prey.

The ledgers are one of the most valuable records ever found of Irish emigration to the U.S., giving a far fuller picture of the women’s lives than records at Ellis Island.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

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