Did you know that in the nineteenth century single women left Ireland in equal numbers to men? These women were instrumental in sending money back to support the family at home and to provide the means for their sisters, cousins, nieces and friends to follow on. 

The emigration stories of Donegal women are featured in a fascinating exhibition currently on display in Donegal County Museum. 

‘A Long Farewell’ – Emigration of Donegal Women 1845-1950 uses archives and images to chart the story of women’s immigration to countries such as Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia; from the horror of the coffin ships of the famine years to the post-war immigration to Great Britain. 

Women workers in Canada – via Donegal County Museum

The exhibition includes archives on loan from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland which, in particular, shed light on the work of philanthropist Vere Foster’s Irish Female Emigration Fund.

This Fund assisted the emigration of thousands of women from Ireland during the 1850’s.

The exhibition also includes a selection of Donegal County Archives’ 19th century workhouse minute books. These contain the names of some of the women and families on Government Emigration scheme lists during and after the Famine.

As part of this exhibition, the museum is looking for visitors to share their stories of family members who have settled in other countries or to hear the stories of those who have made Donegal their new home.

This exhibition has been developed by Donegal County Museum and the Archives Service of the Culture Division, Donegal County Council.

Catch these exhibitions at the Donegal County Museum, High Road Letterkenny

Tales from New York

Also on display at the Donegal County Museum is the travelling exhibition ‘The Irish Mission at Watson House’ on loan from New York.

This exhibition tells the story of a home for Irish immigrant girls in Lower Manhattan between 1883 and 1954.

The Mission’s ledger books preserve the records of many of the women who passed through the doors of the Home at 7 State Street. These registers have been digitised and can be viewed online at www.watsonhouse.org.  

Included in these registers are the names of some Donegal women who travelled on the ship “Rome” which arrived in New York on the 31st May 1897, Cassie Deary, 16, Hannah Gara, 19, Bridget McGinley, 18, Bridget Kelly, 24 and Annie O’Donnell, 23.

Admission is free and the exhibition is on display until spring 2019.

For further information contact Donegal County Museum, High Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal. T 074 9124613 E museum@donegalcoco.ie