In search of US descendants to Great Hunger Bride Orphans

Mountbellew Workhouse Orphan Girls Project’s search for descendants of Tully sisters and others, from Galway, in the US.

Could you be descended from Irish women shipped to colonies from Irish orphanages and poorhouses during Ireland’s Great Famine? Perhaps your family has connections to Catherine and Biddy Tully? Here’s their story.

In 1841 Ireland had a population of over eight million people and land ownership was mainly held by landlords who owned vast amounts of land. Most people were living on smaller farms and depended on the potato as their main staple diet. Other food crops such as barley, corn, and grain were exported to England. These small farmers grew potatoes and a few seasonal vegetables to feed their families.

This led to disastrous effects when in the period between 1847- 1852 a series of potato blight struck. This became known as An Gorta Mor, the Great Famine, and led to the deaths of a million people but also a catalyst for mass emigration. Many people ended up in Workhouses as a direct result of the famine.

Workhouses established in Ireland

The Irish workhouses were designed to give relief to the poor by way of shelter and food. It was based on an English system. The British government believed it to be the most effective way of dealing with poverty in Ireland.

It is hoped that contact can be made with possible Tully descendants in the USA, as there was a large family and it was thought some of them went to the USA. 

If anyone has any information can they please contact Paula Kennedy at galwayancestors@gmail.com. Alternatively, contact them via Facebook @ Mountbellew Workhouse Orphan Girls Project.

What a legacy these workhouse orphan girls have left. Can you help?

Read more: Orphans of Ireland’s Great Hunger married off to Australian convicts

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