Finding Your Irish
August 27, 2012
It is almost time for the annual Kansas City Irish Fest! If you enjoy Irish music, mark your calendar for August 31-September 2 at Crown Center. Were your Irish ancestors here in Kansas City? They may have been among the recruits of Father Bernard Donnelly (from County Cavan) in the 1850s. With a background in civil engineering, Father Donnelly saw the possibilities for jobs leveling the bluffs in the old river market area. At the time, there were many Irish Potato Famine immigrants who were struggling in eastern cities. So, in 1853, he placed ads in the Boston Pilot and a New York newspaper popular with the Irish immigrants to recruit them to come to Kansas City. Many of the men who responded were from western Ireland, primarily County Kerry. How many originally came isn’t exactly known, but it might have been from 100 to 300 men. The ads were also sent on to Ireland.
Kansas City continued to draw others from western Ireland on an ongoing basis. In addition to digging down the bluffs here in "Gully Town" with picks and shovels, the Irish were also employed in Father Donnelly’s brick factory, leaving their mark on Kansas City in bricks that may still be found in old streets and buildings. To learn more about the Irish heritage in Kansas City, try From the Bottom Up: The Story of the Irish in Kansas City by Pat O’Neill.
You might get to go to Ireland someday to find your Irish, but you can start your research right here at the Midwest Genealogy Center. We are offering a class called Finding Your Irish on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. with Cindi Fournier. She will show you some easy websites to look at, explain the jurisdictions of Ireland, what types of records are out there, where to find them, and what you need to know to find your Irish. The class is recommended for adults and registration is required.
Midwest Genealogy Center