One of my major non-family interests is searching the Australian immigration records for people from Broadford, County Clare (Parish of Kilseily) and also from East Clare generally. I’ve defined this area as that roughly east of Ennis and belonging to the Tulla Upper and Tulla Lower Unions. Since many families sent people to both Australia and the USA, I’ve got an interest in the US, though rather more diluted.
I started this research primarily because I couldn’t find the immigration records for my ancestor, Mary O’Brien and her sister Bridget O’Brien who I estimate arrived in Australia circa 1855. They probably both came to Moreton Bay, then in New South Wales. The evidence for this is that Mary married in Ipswich, Qld in 1857. Also when sister Bridget o’Brien Widdup died in the Riverina area of NSW (Urana) her death certificate stated that she had spent one year in Queensland. Oral history tells that they came under employment with a sailing captain and that Mary worked initially in Brisbane.
In the post-Famine years migration from Clare was extensive and Australia with its assisted migration scheme was attractive, possibly more so to those who were accustomed to a rural lifestyle. However while Clare people made up a huge slice of Irish immigrants to Australia, the flow here was a drop in the ocean compared to those heading west to the US and Canada.
With the commencement of the American Civil War, America became a less attractive option and with another depression and food shortages taking effect, Australia became the beneficiary of a major inflow of mainly young Irish men and women. The parish priest of Kilseily parish , Fr John Burke, (based in Broadford) was instrumental in assisting many young emigrants to complete the processes required to come to Australia. As the American Civil War came to an end, the emigration flow to Australia once again diminished. However just as many Australians can lay claim to a little bit of Irish in their family tree, many of these came from County Clare.
I am interested in hearing from anyone who knows their ancestors came to Australia from East Clare, and in particular from those who came from Broadford and its surrounding townlands.
A fabulous site for people with Clare ancestry is the Clare Library site (genealogy and history pages). The indexing is reliable, its free and it has a diversity of information not readily available elsewhere. This library and the local history centre are among my Top Ten family history heroes. Check it out, it’s great! http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/genealogy/genealog.htm
If you’re lucky enough to visit Clare for family history research make sure you visit the Clare County Library and Archives. But remember to book first if you want to use the Archive resources.