232 – Patrick Gallagher Emigrates

Patrick Gallagher emigrated around 1850, at about age 23.

We don’t know the specific year Patrick left Ireland, or which ship he was on. 

In the 1900 census, Patrick gave his immigration year as 1846.  In the 1910 census, he states the immigration year as 1851. These are the years of the famine, so it’s likely the famine was a factor in his decision. We’ve speculated on several reasons why Patrick emigrated:

  • Famine or disease of Patrick or his parents
  • He couldn’t acquire a farm because of new law that land couldn’t be subdivided
  • He couldn’t pay the landlord’s high rent
  • Landlord evicted him
  • Landlord paid his fare to get rid of him

Here’s one more possible reason. Family lore says that Patrick wanted to evade military conscription, so he went to Scotland, and from there to America.

Gallagher memories, by Kathleen Gallagher Teply

Let’s consider Kathleen Teply’s statement that Patrick didn’t want to serve in the army. Here are two possible scenarios that might support that family story.

Irish and the military

First, Irish Catholics did serve in the British military. After Ireland joined the United Kingdom in 1801, as many as 40% of the British enlisted troops were Irish.

There was no military conscription of Irish citizens during the 1840s, so Patrick wasn’t in danger of getting drafted. But recruiters used every trick in the book to entice poor Irish Catholics to enlist.

By the mid-1840s famine, Irish resentment of the British caused recruitment to plummet.

The Birmingham Pilot recounts the unsuccessful efforts of a recruiting officer lately returned from Ireland ‘It’s no use trying it any more in Ireland: we can’t get a single recruit there: if the unfortunate half-starved Irish won’t enlist, who will?” were his emphatic comments.

The military in Kilkenny 1800-1870 – Liam Böiger

Second, in the 1840s there were armed insurrections in Ireland against the British military. The insurgents were armed militias, mostly regional, and mostly Catholic tenant farmers.

The Daniel O’Connell Repeal Association, the Young Ireland rebellion, and others were particularly militant during 1847 and 1848, the peak years of the famine. There was no conscription, but Patrick could have felt social pressure to join.

Young Ireland Rebellion – 1848

The famine also had a profound effect on the youth of that period when increasingly emigration rather than enlistment became the attractive option.

The military in Kilkenny 1800-1870 – Liam Böiger

I’m skeptical that Patrick left Ireland to avoid serving in the military. But family lore often contains seeds of truth. So we’ll add this to the list of reasons for his emigration.

Emigration ports

Derry was the main port for emigrants from Donegal.  People from south Donegal emigrated from Sligo.

Emigrants from Donegal would also go to Glasgow or Liverpool first and then take a ship to North America. So it’s quite possible that Patrick could have gone to Scotland (probably Glasgow), and then sailed for America.

Belfast News-Letter – February 15, 1848

Did he travel with others?  With siblings?  Did his parents remain in Ireland throughout their lives?  We don’t know.

The fare was £3 or £4. The voyage took around 12 weeks.

As the newspaper ad touts, water and 1 pound of bread or meal will be provided each day.

Patrick Gallagher in America

Patrick arrived in America around 1850.  He variously reported his immigration year as 1846 and 1851.

Anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania

However and whenever he arrived, Patrick Gallagher was in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania by the early 1850s. It was in the center of the anthracite coal-mining area of northeast Pennsylvania.

Ellen Large

Ellen Large had immigrated from Ireland with her mother and siblings around 1844. They had also settled in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and Ellen’s brothers began working in the area coal mines.

In Schuylkill County, Patrick Gallagher met Ellen Large. They were soon to be married.

Before they marry, let’s find out about Ellen’s Irish heritage.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s