It was a very hard and difficult time for the Irish at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Ther faced many grave problems
at that time ; The Act of Union in 1803, an overly large population as a result of the Napoleanic Wars, the religious prejudice of the
Protestant Masters to the Catholic Irish, plus political subordination resulted in that they soon became impoverished and the only
alternative but to immigrate to the United States for relief. The British Passenger Acts attempted to deflect the emigration from the
British Isles to Canada instead of the United States, by making the fare cheap 15 shillings compared to 4 or 5 pound fare to New York.
Many of the Irish found it conveinent to take the affordable trip to Canada whereby they could take the cheap fares to the United
States or cheaper yet, they could walk across the border. By 1840 the Irish constituted nearly half of all entering immigrants and
New England found itself heavily foreign born.
The steadily increasing numbers from 1820 to 1830 skyrocketed in the 1840's due to the potato fanine, nearly 2 million came
in that decade. The flow persisted for another 5 years as the first immigrants began to earn money which enabled them to send for
relatives and friends. The decade after 1850 showed a subside and smaller numbers contineued to arrive until after the Civil War.
The figures show that around 3.5 million Irishmen enterd the United Staes from 1820 to 1880. They found that it wasn't the magical
solution as they arrived without resources and with no capital were not able to buy land and start a business. Fortunately America
was going through a expansion period and the economy created demands for muscle grunt. The Canals and thousands of miles of
rail were being built. There was no bulldozing equipment and the pick and shovel were the only earth moving equipment at the time.
The Irish laborers were the mainstay of the crews that did this grueling work. In towns along the sites of the work being done, the
Irish started small communities in which to live in. By the middle of the 19th century American cities were developing rapid growth
and beginning to develop an infrastructure and creating the governmental machinery to run it, the Irish and their children got their
first foothold in on the ground floor. Irish policemen and firemen just about monopolized those jobs as they were created. The first
generations worked at mostly unskilled jobs but their children started increasingly on the semi-skilled and skilled jobs.
Major Emigration Ports From Ireland to Canada
1750 - 1850
Atlantic Canada consists of four provinces of Newfoundland/Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Irish emigrants coming to Atlantic Canada departed from one of seven major ports for the most part. Tralee, County Kerry;
Cork and Corb, County Cork; and Waterford Harbor served the southern counties from which the majority of the Catholic Irish came.
Galway was the main port of departure for the west of Ireland as was Dublin on the eastern side. The Ulster Irish left from Derry
(Londonderry) and Belfast in the North.
In two cases, the emigration port stood where a river hinderland reached the sea, namely Waterford and Derry
* Derry stood on the River Foyle, a stream reaching into the western counties of Donegal, Derry, and Tyrone.
The rivers and streams carried small boats towards the sea and emigrants could follow the the waterways on foot toward
their destination. By the mid nineteenth centuary Derry was connected by regular shipping service to Atlantic Canada
especially St. John, New Brunswick
* Waterford's harbor was sometimes known as "the confluence" because of three major streams. The SUIR from the west , the
NORE and the BARROW from the north, converged opposite the city and flowed east and south into the Atlantic. Intending
emigrants from Tipperary, Kilkenny, Leix, Carlow and Wexford, as well as Waterford itself, would use this port because it can
be reached easily. Waterford along with Cork and Youghai along the west coast were the heartland of the Grand Banks
Fishery which carried thousands of Irish annually to the coasts of Newfoundland.