24 April 2007

Did your mother come from Ireland? So what?

How about your grandmother, or her grandmother? Wherever you live there's a good chance many folks celebrate their Irish roots on St Patrick's Day, and throughout the year. In the Ottawa area that's reflected in a very active Irish research group that meets monthly under the sponsorship of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

The Irish population of 4.5 million in 1901 had dropped from 8.2 million in 1841 with the decline continuing decade after decade as emigration continued.

One oft quoted statistic is that in 1891, 39 per cent of all Irish-born persons in the world were living outside Ireland. Where did they go? The pie chart shows about 25% were in the US, 6% in England and Wales, over 3% in Australia, 2.5% in Scotland and 2% in Canada. Canada's Irish-born population peaked earlier, likely around 1861 as did that in England. In the US and Australia the migration continued longer. Their Irish-born population peaked in the 1890s.

Can you relate these trends to your family history? The migration was so extensive that if your "mother" came from Ireland the chances are you have cousins to discover in one or more of the other countries.