Visiting the “Old Country”: Photographs & Stories of Returning Midleton Emigrants, 1915-1924

We recently looked at Midleton emigrants who found themselves in New York Poorhouses in the 19th Century. Returning to the topic of emigration, we have taken a look at United States passport applications in the 1910s and 1920s by people who had been born in Midleton. In all bar two of the cases below, these were emigrants from the town or parish who were seeking to return to visit Cork. The majority of them were doing so to reunite with family. As per usual, there are some fascinating stories among them. Edmond Bowler was travelling to “visit the Old Country”, while Margaret Talbott was going to “see the old homestead.” Some, like Joseph Hickey, were going to see their parents. Joseph had apparently not been back to Ireland since his emigration, but he had been to France– serving with the American Expeditionary Force during World War One. Mary Ryan was going back to Whitegate with her newborn to show off the child to her father, while the entire Buckley family where making the journey to attend to “family business.”

The 'Celtic', a vessel that a number of the Midleton emigrants returned on (Imperial War Museum via Wikipedia)

The “Celtic”, a vessel that a number of the Midleton emigrants returned on (Imperial War Museum via Wikipedia)

Throughout these emigrants lives, connections to Midleton remained strong. Abbie Keefe had emigrated as a young child, and in almost 50 years never returned to Ireland. Yet she still kept contact with relatives here, and eventually returned in old age to visit them. Hannah Walsh spent 52 years in Boston without going home, but at the age of 75 she sold up her Boston house, returning to Midleton to live out her final days with her sister.

Two of the passport applications below are not like the others. They were made not by Midleton emigrants in the United States, but by two young women from the parish who had never been out of Ireland. Both had married U.S. sailors stationed in Queenstown during World War One, and they were now hoping to start new lives in America. In the case of one of the women– Bridget Mahony (Lynch)– the marriage came after her pregnancy, a situation that was likely difficult for her in 1919 Ireland.

In reviewing the below, readers should note that the applications of married couples often prioritised the man’s details; also married Midleton women retained their married name on the application, making it difficult to determine their maiden names. By far the most remarkable element of these passports is what they have left us, as in each one is a photographic image of the applicant. They have been included beneath each bio below.

The "Philadelphia", another of the ships on which Midleton emigrants returned (US Navy Research Center)

The “Philadelphia”, another of the ships on which Midleton emigrants returned (US Navy Research Center)

William J Ahern, Passport Issued 15th April 1916

William was born in Midleton on 4th November 1869, and had emigrated to America aboard the Pavonia on 11th May 1887. He had never been home to Ireland in the intervening 29 years. He became naturalized in New York in 1899, where he still lived, at 55 Horatio Street. He worked as a Marine Engineer. He intended to travel back to Midleton for one year to see his wife and children. His intention was to sail aboard the Philadelphia on 22nd April 1916.

William J Ahern (Ancestry)

William J Ahern (Ancestry)

Edmond Bowler, Passport Issued 8th May 1920, Passport Issued 3rd July 1922

In his application Edmond stated that he was born in Midleton on 8th September 1869, and had emigrated to the United States from Liverpool in June 1895. He spent the next 25 years living in New York without ever travelling home. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1918. His occupation was a Railroad Gateman, and he lived at 139 East 15th Street. He planned to visit Cork for three months, sailing aboard the Celtic on 15th May 1920. When asked to put down his reason for travelling home, he initially wrote “Visit the Old Country”, but scratched out “the Old Country” and replaced it with “relatives.” Edmond again applied for a passport in 1922, when his address was 143 East 18th Street. His intention was again to visit relatives, and he hoped to sail on the Baltic on 8th July 1922.

Edmond Bowler (Ancestry)

Edmond Bowler (Ancestry)

Daniel Buckley, Passport Issued 13th July 1920

Daniel stated that he wanted to travel to Ireland with his wife Mary and children Mary (12), Anna (11), William (9) and Helen (1). He was born in Midleton on in July 1876, and had emigrated to the United States from Queenstown in October 1898. He lived at 140 Rodney Street in Brooklyn, and had become a naturalized citizen in 1905. A Stable Foreman by trade, he had previously visited Ireland from May to August in 1914. The purpose of this visit was given as “family business.” Like Edmond Bowler, he intended to travel on the Celtic, sailing on 28th August 1920.

The Buckley Family (Ancestry)

The Buckley Family (Ancestry)

John Cronin, Passport Issued 10th February 1920

John was born in Clonmult on 21st June 1886. He noted that his father was called Edmond. John emigrated from Queenstown on 4th September 1911 and went to Spokane in Washington State. He was naturalized there in 1917. In 1920 he lived in Rosalia, Washington where he was a clergyman. He intended to travel to Europe for 6 months, to visit family in Ireland, be a tourist in England and be a tourist in France and Belgium. He planned to leave New York aboard the Philadelphia on 22nd May 1920.

Father John Cronin (Ancestry)

Father John Cronin (Ancestry)

Richard Cronin, Passport Issued 12th March 1920

Richard mentioned that he was born in Midleton on 13th June 1869. He sailed to the United States from Ireland in 1886, spending the next 24 years in America without visiting home. He had spent from 1890 to 1919 in the U.S. Navy, and was naturalized in 1899. He lived at 413 West 19th Street following his retirement from the service. He wanted to go back to Midleton to visit relatives and because his health was failing. He intended to sail on the 20th March 1920.

Richard Cronin (Ancestry)

Richard Cronin (Ancestry)

William Duhig, Passport Issued 19th December 1919

William was travelling home “to visit my mother who lives in Midleton.” His father Michael was now dead. He said he was born in the town on 14th February 1889, and had left for America from Queenstown on 24th May 1910. He spent the next 7 years in Boston, before spending more than a year at home. He now wanted to spend another 6 months with his mother, intending to travel on the S.S. Carmania on 21st January 1920. In Boston he worked as a Wool Grader, and lived at 7 Allen Street.

William Duhig (Ancestry)

William Duhig (Ancestry)

Thomas John Galvin, Passport Issued 15th March 1923

Thomas was born in Midleton on 22nd December 1868; he recorded that his father Garrett from Midleton was now dead. He had emigrated from Queenstown on 10th May 1887 and he had been naturalized in 1896. He had returned home before, spending almost a year in Cork between December 1898 and November 1899. He worked as a laborer and made his home at 520 45th Street in Brooklyn. He intended to sail aboard the President Adams on 9th April 1923 in the company of his Irish wife Kathleen, with the purpose of his trip being a “visit.”

Thomas Galvin (Ancestry)

Thomas Galvin (Ancestry)

Lillian Hart, Passport Issued 28th June 1920

Lillian was born in Midleton on 19th January 1885; her husband was an American, Burnham Hart from West Cornwall, Connecticut. They lived at 192 Bradhurst Avenue in New York. The purpose of the trip was for Lillian to see her parents. She intended to travel aboard the Baltic on 4th September 1920.

Lillian Hart (Ancestry)

Lillian Hart (Ancestry)

Joseph Hickey, Passport Issued 11th August 1921

Joseph noted that he had been born in Midleton on 1st February 1886, and he had emigrated out of Queenstown on 11th March 1905. He had never visited home in all the time since, and was naturalized in California in 1919. However, he had been abroad- Joseph had served in France during World War One with the American Expeditionary Force. He now lived at 26th Street and 4th Avenue in New York, where he worked as a painter. He was going back to Midleton to see his parents, and intended to stay 6 months. His intended sailing was aboard the Olympic on 13th August 1921.

Joseph Hickey (Ancestry)

Joseph Hickey (Ancestry)

Abbie Keefe, Passport Issued 27th August 1921

Abbie was born in Midleton on 10th December 1867; her husband Morris was also from Ireland. He emigrated from Queenstown around 1866, and lived in Aurora, Illinois until 1903 (presumably the year of his death). Abbie had emigrated in 1875, and had now moved from Aurora to Waterbury, Connecticut, where she was keeping house. She hoped to go to Ireland for one year to visit relatives. It is interesting to note that Abbie had emigrated to America as a child, yet despite the passage of nearly 50 years was still going to visit her birthplace.

Abbie Keefe (Ancestry)

Abbie Keefe (Ancestry)

Margaret Kowalski, Passport Issued 3rd September 1919

Margaret had been born in Midleton on 12th September 1899 and had lived in Ireland “all my life” and had “never been in U.S.” She applied to the U.S. Consulate in Queenstown for a passport, as she had married Wenceslaus Kowalski of the United States Navy in Midleton on 15th March 1919. He was a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he lived at 914 11th Avenue. By the time Margaret applied, Wenceslaus had been moved on to Liverpool.

Margaret Kowalski (Ancestry)

Margaret Kowalski (Ancestry)

Katherine Lee, Passport Issued 29th November 1920

Katherine was born in Clonmult on 22nd December 1882. Her husband, Hugh Lee, was a native of Boston but had died. Katherine had lived in America from 1904, and appears not to have been home. She now lived at 61 Farragut Road in South Boston, where she had no occupation. She was travelling home to Clonmult to visit her father, and hoped to leave on the Celtic on 11th December 1920.

Katherine Lee (Ancestry)

Katherine Lee (Ancestry)

Bridget Mary Mahony, Passport Issued 8th July 1919

Bridget applied to the U.S. Consulate in Queenstown for a passport, citing her status as a wife of a member of the naval forces of the United States.She hoped to travel from Queenstown to the United States in the company of her daughter Veronica Mahony, who had been born at Queenstown on 9th May 1919. Bridget was born in Midleton on 7th May 1897, and her husband George Daniel Mahony had been born in America. She had married her husband in St. Colman’s Cathedral on 1st January 1919; he was then serving as a cook in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Imperator. George had enlisted in Boston in May 1915. Bridget related that her father was Thomas Lynch from Midleton, and her mother was Mary (Geary) Lynch also from the town. Given the respective dates of the couple’s matrimony and the birth of their child, it seems likely that Bridget was pregnant with Veronica prior to their marriage. Bridget related that she was “never in [the] U.S.A.’ and had been in “Ireland all my life.” She intended her permanent address to be New York City.

Bridget Mary Mahony (Ancestry)

Bridget Mary Mahony (Ancestry)

Thomas McCarthy, Passport Issued 18th September 1924

Thomas was born in Midleton on 15th December 1861. His father had been Charles McCarthy, and he was now dead. Thomas had emigrated from Queenstown 1887, and spent the next 37 years in America without returning home. He made his home at 168 Prescott Street, Worcester, Massachusetts, where he was a Wine Inspector. He gave travel as the purpose of his journey, and intended to leave Boston on the Scythia on 21st September 1924.

Thomas McCarthy (Ancestry)

Thomas McCarthy (Ancestry)

Joseph Moore, Passport Issued 13th July 1915

Joseph applied for his passport in San Francisco, California. He was born in Midleton on 1st December 1881 and had emigrated aboard the Lukania from Liverpool on 31st December 1899. He had never returned to Ireland in the intervening period, but had travelled throughout the States, living in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Goldfield (Nevada), Oakland and San Francisco. He had been naturalized in San Francisco in 1908. His permanent residence was now Oakland, where he worked as a Horticulturist. He planned to go to Ireland to “attend to the settlement of my father’s estate” and also hoped to stop off in England to visit friends.

Joseph Moore (Ancestry)

Joseph Moore (Ancestry)

Annie Parker, Passport Issued 23rd September 1924

Annie was born in Whitegate on 13th April 1877. She left for America in 1892, and now lived at 3174 23rd Street in San Francisco, where she was engaged in housework. She had married Joseph Parker (from San Francisco) in Chicago on 4th October 1894 and had been widowed on 18th October 1918.Apparently having ever been home, Annie hoped to spend almost a year in both Ireland and England visiting relatives.

Annie Parker (Ancestry)

Annie Parker (Ancestry)

Mary Ryan, Passport Issued 10th June 1920

Mary intended to travel back to Midleton with her newborn child Mary for about two to three months. She had been born in Midleton on 29th January 1888, and her husband Stephen Ryan had also been born in Ireland. He had emigrated aboard the Cymric from Queenstown on 19th April 1905 and had spent the next 15 years in America. He was naturalized in 1919, and the family now lived at 20 Grafton Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts. The purpose of Mary’s visit was to visit her father, and she hoped to sail on 21st July 1920.

Mary Ryan (Ancestry)

Mary Ryan (Ancestry)

Margaret Talbott, Passport Issued 10th April 1922

Margaret was born in Midleton on 14th June 1870. Her husband Edward Talbot had also been born in Ireland. He had emigrated in 1888 and spent the next 34 years in Chicago. Margaret had lived in the United States uninterrupted for 36 years between 1886 and 1922, making her home at 6751 East End Avenue in Chicago. The purpose of her visit to Ireland was to “see the old homestead” and “visit relatives.” She planned to leave on the Celtic from New York on 3rd June 1922.

Margaret Talbot (Ancestry)

Margaret Talbot (Ancestry)

Hannah Walsh, Passport Issued 14th July 1920

Hannah was born in Midleton on 20th December 1835. Her husband Michael had also been born in Ireland and had emigrated from Queenstown in 1861, living in Boston until his death in 1890. He had been naturalized in 1868. Hannah had emigrated in 1867, and in the 52 years since had never been home to Ireland, living in Boston where she was a Lodging House Keeper. She was going back to Ireland to “reside with her sister,” and had arranged to sell her house to that purpose. She intended to leave on the Caronia on 24th July 1920.

Hannah Walsh (Ancestry)

Hannah Walsh (Ancestry)

References

Selected Passports. National Archives, Washington, D.C. [Accessed via Archive.com]

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Categories: 20th Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Visiting the “Old Country”: Photographs & Stories of Returning Midleton Emigrants, 1915-1924

  1. Tom Birtwistle

    Bernie, Fascinating, you Pad’s get everywhere! All fine here, we went out for late lunch with friend, a lovely warm day. It’s 6pm the dog is sleeping on my lap and Brigid in the Motorhome. Our best to you all.

    Tom xx

    >

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