How do you make the decision to leave everything and everyone you know and love to enter into a complete unknown where you maybe a stranger to everyone? Yet, that is exactly what our relatives did. It is an amazing decision. What motivated them to do this we don’t know? The answer could be as simple as seeking “greener grass” or economic opportunity. Whatever it was our relatives left Ireland from 1881 through 1930 to go to:

Beacon NY via the Port of New York 1922-1930

Chicago Illinois 1883-1896 via unknown Port

Glasgow Scotland in the early 1900’s

Passaic New Jersey via the port of Charleston SC in 1883/4

San Francisco CA in the early 1900’s via an unknown port

Wilkes Barre PA via the ports of New York and Philadelphia from 1881-1887

Some others may have left for other places. We simply don’t know. There are many Montague’s and McTeague’s in Massachusetts, Virginia and Texas in the USA as well as many in Australia. There indeed could be more of us out there! How these places were chosen is another good question. What is clear is they looked to surround themselves with friends and family as quickly as they could. Brothers and sisters followed in rapid order to re-establish family ties and comfort. They lived close to each other and established the same traditions as they had “back home” to both reassure and comfort themselves. Certainly the church played a large role in this comfort.

How did they keep in contact with family “back home’? The only option was the US Mail and newspapers. Newspapers printed ship arrivals and similar schedules. These were the only 2 means they had of coordinating arrivals and bringing their relatives to where they were living. Indeed, transportation and communication were one and the same in those days not as we know it today where communication operates at the speed of light. Mail from the USA to Ireland would take in the vicinity of one month plus to arrive. If the recent immigrant was unsettled, very likely, where would a person send a letter to? The whole situation is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty.

Transporting both mail and people dramatically changed in the 1880’s and into 1930. Intercontinental travel evolved from wooden sail ships to iron steam powered ships in the 1880’s. The time of travel from Ireland to the Port of New York went from months to weeks in the early 1880’s. In the early 1900’s ships moved to steel hulls and diesel power reducing the time of travel further. Similarly, land travel via rail road experienced similar changes in the same time frame. While time and transportation improved, the risks and uncertainty did not. Congratulations to all those who made the journey. We would not be here if you didn’t.