Ginnelly descendants return to Blacksod Bay

by ionaddeirbhile

Descendants of Denis Ginnelly and family Moyrahan, Mullet Peninsula

Chris and Rick Goffin USA, descendants of the Ginnelly Family, Mullet Peninsula, County Mayo. The Ginnelly Family sailed on the SS Austrian from Blacksod Bay 25th May 1883 for Boston arriving 7th June.

Dennis Ginnelly and his family were the first of my family to migrate to the United States. Dennis and Bridget (Lavelle) Ginnelly had 10 children, 7 sons (James John, Denis, Martin, Patrick, Anthony, James, and Dennis James) and 3 daughters (Mary, Sabina and Margaret). The children were born at either the town of Morahan or the town of Binghamstown, Belmullet district in County Mayo. Two of the sons died as young children. Their oldest son James Ginnelly did not emigrate with the rest of his family. Dennis emigrated from Blacksod Bay with his wife and 7 of their children. They traveled on the SS Austrian, leaving on the 25 May 1883. Their reported destination was Hudson, Wisconsin but the family appeared in St Paul, Minnesota (about 25 miles from Hudson) in 1887 where they remained for the rest of their life. Dennis and his sons (now named McGinley) appear to quickly find work as laborers but later some became insurance agents, proprietor of a bar named McGinley’s, proprietor of oil station, teamster and blacksmith. Only 5 of the children married. Dennis died 15 years after arriving in the USA; his wife died 4 years later.

In September 2013 I traveled to Ireland to visit the towns where my relatives had lived. I stayed at a bed and breakfast in Blacksod Bay where the owner told me about the Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre and Rosemarie Geraghty who had spent years researching the families who had benefited from the James H. Tuke fund and the assisted emigration scheme. The Heritage Centre in Eachleim Ireland was a pleasant surprise. It had abundance of information much larger than the modest façade of facility suggested, especially related to the Tuke fund and assisted emigration. I found all sorts of genealogical information including the lists of participants in the assisted emigration scheme and the name and date of ship they travelled on. One of their web sites www.blacksodbayemigration.ie has proved quite useful. I also found out that there is a beautiful memorial at Blacksod Bay commemorating the people who had used the assisted emigration scheme to move to the USA or Canada. The James H. Tuke fund was created to help relieve the poverty of families living in western Ireland. The fund required that the family must be healthy, must travel together as a family, would have a sponsor in the USA or Canada, would not be dumped on the coast but generally relocated to interior cities such as St Paul, Minnesota where jobs awaited them and they were provided with new clothes and traveling money. It was at the Heritage Centre that I discovered that Dennis Ginnelly had applied for and been approved for this emigration assistance. That explained the mystery of where the money came from allowing Dennis Ginnelly to move most of his family to a new life in the USA.

Dennis Ginnelly’s oldest son James Ginnelly (my Great grandfather) stayed behind because he had married and started his own family. James Ginnelly and his wife Bridget (Lavelle) Ginnelly had 8 children (William Patrick, John, Martin, Margaret, James, Agnes, Mary and Catherine). Their son John Ginnelly has arrested in 1897 according to the citation for the “Riscue 7 Head Of Cattle Which Were Being Conveyed To The Pound” in other words he took back cattle that had been confiscated from the family. For this he was sent to the Castlebar Jail. Shortly after he was released in 1899, he immigrated to, St Paul MN and lived with Dennis’s family. In July 1900, William Patrick Ginnelly, James’s oldest son immigrated to the same address as his brother John. In May 1902, Martin and Margaret Ginnelly immigrated, then in May 1903, James Ginnelly and his daughter Agnes Bridget Ginnelly (my Grandmother) immigrated and finally, in May 1904 the mother Bridget Ginnelly immigrated with her children James, Mary and Catherine Ginnelly. The Ginnelly family as a whole helped the remaining members of the Ginnelly family to migrate to St Paul. They provided funds for travel, a place to live in St Paul and jobs or help getting jobs. My Grandmother remembers shortly after arriving, at the age of 12-14 years old, being responsible for bringing containers of beer from McGinley’s bar to the homes of good Irish women who would not go into a bar but had a thirst. All the family help each other get by. From 1905 onward, most of the Ginnelly sons worked for the railroad.

John Ginnelly married a Sarah Barrett in April 1910. Sarah and her family were also from the Mullet. Sarah’s parents Richard Barrett and Nora (Walsh) Barrett family also took advantage of the Tuke fund and emigrated from Blacksod Bay to St Paul Minnesota on the SS Prussian on May 1883.