Blacksod Bay Emigration 1883-84. The Tuke Fund.

The website launched by Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, Eachléim in July 2013, now has a link to a new interactive ‘sister site’ via “Latest News”. The new site provides a focal point for the descendants to interact with. We thank them for already leaving messages, photographs and stories of their ancestors. Many descendants are also longing to connect with possible existing relatives in the home place of their forebears’. Since the launch of the site Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre has welcomed back descendants of Tighe, Ginnelly, Barrett, Dixon, Donnelly, Heveran and Kennedy families returning from the USA to Blacksod Bay to see where their people boarded the ship, that was to bring them to the “New World”

Blacksod Bay Emigration remembers the people of Erris, Achill and Newport West, who emigrated on the ships from Blacksod Bay 1883-84 assisted by “The Tuke Fund”. It is hoped that the database will help the descendants of the emigrants in North America and Canada to engage with their relations and the community in the West of Ireland, and that their shared experiences will re-establish a bond between the Belmullet and Achill areas and those areas in the United States and Canada where the emigrants settled. This is the start of a process which will strengthen the connection between the descendants of the emigrants and the home place of their ancestors. The people left together as a community with a sense of identity, they are now being remembered in this way.

“Our history is their history and theirs is ours. By remembering the people who left we welcome back their descendants.”



During the “Assisted Emigration Period” of the years 1883-84 just over 3,300 people from North West Mayo, emigrated on steamships of the Allan Line from Blacksod Bay, County Mayo bound for Boston and Quebec. Families from the Erris, Achill and Newport West regions.

Assisted emigration was a scheme by which people in the most deprived areas of Ireland received help in emigrating to the U.S. or Canada in search of a better life. Known as “The Tuke Fund” it was named after James Hack Tuke, a Quaker from York who sought to address starvation and deprivation in the West of Ireland

Inaugurated in March 1882, “The Tuke Fund” described it’s goal as “the assistance to emigration of the small holders of the West of Ireland” and every detail was thought of to ensure the comfort and welfare of the emigrants. James Tuke himself had previously travelled to the U.S. and Canada to ascertain suitable areas for the settlement of the emigrants.

The scheme was voluntary. Only families would be assisted, thereby a holding would become vacant which could be given to other smallholders improving their circumstances. Where they could afford it, the emigrants would be asked to contribute something towards the cost, but due to the extreme poverty of the people this was usually not possible. Emigrants would only be sent to the United States if they could produce recent letters from friends who were willing to help them, others were sent to the villages and small towns of Canada.

Each family would receive new clothing for the journey, be booked through to their destination and given a sum of “landing money” on arrival at the port. One condition for acceptance into the scheme was that at least one person in each family had to be able to speak English.

In July of 2013 to mark the 130th anniversary of the first sailing, and to tie in with ‘The Gathering’  Comharchumann Forbartha Ionad Deirbhile launched a searchable website/database dedicated to the memory of the people of North West Mayo who left on the Emigrant Ships from Blacksod Bay.

The work on the  website/database is the result of research and transcriptions of the ships’ manifests regarding the people (mostly families) who left and the history surrounding this time 1883-84.  The emigrants embarked on the ships near where Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre is situated and the local history research was carried out to help descendants who may be looking for where their people left from, to connect with the land of their ancestors’ birth and find present day relatives. The descendants may submit photographs, if they wish (some already have) and share the stories of their ancestors with each other. 

There has been a great amount of interest shown since the database was launched.  Descendants of the emigrants have contacted the Heritage Centre and made the journey back to Blacksod, to see where there their ancestors embarked on the Emigration Steamer. The beginning of their voyage to the “New World”

Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, Eachléim, Blacksod Bay is now being regarded as a focal point for descendants who share a common bond, to connect with for the future.   contact

List of passengers embarked on the S.S. Scandinavian. Blacksod Bay 1883

During the Assisted Emigration Period of 1883-1884 many people, including whole families travelled great distances to the shores of Elly Bay, an inlet of Blacksod Bay, to embark on the Allan Line Steamships for Quebec and Boston, as the following extract entitled “Emigration from Ireland”. Mr Tukes Fund July 1883 confirms.

…………It was necessary in most cases, to bring the families coming from a distance by cart to Belmullet, where food and lodgings were provided.
The embarkations took place from the shores of Elly Bay – an inlet of Blacksod Bay – at which place the “Allan” Line had arranged for their steamers to call weekly, en route to Galway. The embarkation of the emigrants was naturally a cause for much anxiety, in as much as, although Blacksod Bay affords perhaps one of the finest anchorages in the West of Ireland – the Channel Squadron having lain there some few years since – still the shores of Elly Bay cannot be approached even at half-tide; added to which there is no pier, or in fact any accommodation for embarking the people. After due consultation with Staff-Captain Sutton, of H.M.S. “Seahorse” and Lieut. Beddoes, commanding the Coast-Guard, it was found that there was no alternative, except to arrange that the emigrants should be ready to embark on each occasion at high-water: the boats of the “Seahorse” and Coast-Guard taking them from the shore to the gunboat which then ran along side the “Allan” steamer……

Passenger List for S.S. Scandinavian.
Left Blacksod Bay April 22nd 1883 – Arrived Quebec May 3rd 1883

More information for ships leaving Blacksod Bay at this time available at Ionad Deirbhile, Visitor Centre, Eachleim, Blacksod, Co. Mayo

Ship Manifest images Source Library and Archives Canada

Féile na hEachléime 2011

Monday August 8th – Sunday August 21st

Luan 8 Lúnasa – Domhnach 21 Lúnasa

Times are subject to change, please check this page for the latest details

Mon 8th August

10-3pm – Campa samhraidh na hEachléime ag Halla na hEachléime
11.00am – Oscailt na Féile: Maidin Chaife/Coffee Morning do Eachléim Defibrillator in Ionad Deirbhile
Lá oscailte an Chomharchumainn in Ionad Deirbhile – Free Admission
7.00 pm – Oscailt an chlós spraoi nua ag Halla na hEachléime/Official opening of playing courts at Halla

Tue 9th August

10-3pm – Campa samhraidh na hEachleime ag Halla na hEachléime
7:00pm – Cemetery Mass at Emlybeg
7:30pm – Yoga with Lucy 097 81205 in Ionad Deirbhile

Wed 10th August

10-3pm – Campa samhraidh na hEachleime ag Halla na hEachléime
8:00pm – Aifreann /Mass in Eachléim church & a farewell gathering for Fr. Harrison in Ionad Deirbhile afterwards

Thurs 11th August

10-3pm – Campa samhraidh na hEachleime ag Halla na hEachléime

Fri 12th August

10-3pm – Campa samhraidh na hEachleime ag Halla na hEachléime
9.00pm – Bingo in Ionad Deirbhile
10:30pm – BBQ, Ronnaigh & Diúilicíní i dTeach John Joe

Sat 13th August

Time tbc – Turas chuig na hoileáin /Boat Trips to the Islands. (contact Dúlra 087 6656114, Mattie Geraghty 086 6736711, Sean Lavelle 086 8365983)
Time tbc – Oíche na gcuairteoirí/Visitors Night & Ceol Tíre/Live Music in Teach John Joe –

Sun 14th August

2:00pm – Rásaí na gCurachaí, Fód Dubh/Blacksod Currach Races. Imeachtaí cois fharraige: tarraingt téada, Tug-o-War, BBQ.
*5:30pm – Aifreann ag Tobar Deirbhile Fál Mór (Mass at St Deirbhile’s Well Faulmore)
10:00pm – Bronadh Dúiseanna & Ceol Beo/Live Music i dTeach John Joe

Mon 15th August

10:00pm – Ceol Tíre/Live Music i dTeach John Joe

Tue 16th August

7:00pm – Cemetery Mass in Tarmoncarragh
 – “Eachléim Ladies Club” Set Dancing also social dancing le Paul Murphy in Ionad Deirbhile

Wed 17thAugust

Time tbc – Teach John Joe Golf Society Scramble (at Carne Golf Links) weather permitting
7:00pm – Cemetery Mass in Faulmore
8:30pm – *Oíche Cartaí / 25 Card Drive do Eachléim Defibrillator in Ionad Deirbhile

Thurs 18th August

9:00pm – Seoladh oifigiúil
Ócáid do retirement Máire Uí Ruadháin in Ionad Deirbhile

Fri 19th August

Time tbc – Turas chuig na hoileáin / Boat Trips to the Islands (contact Dúlra 087 6656114, Mattie Geraghty 086 6736711, Sean Lavelle 086 8365983)
9.00pm – Bingo in Ionad Deirbhile

Sat 20th August

8:00pm – Dolphin watching and research on the Mullet peninsula, a presentation by Machiel Oudejans in Ionad Deirbhile

Coming up: Sun 28th August:

Time tbc – Corn Gaisce Páirc Chaisleán (Family Sports Day in Cuislean)

* Unconfirmed

Blacksod Bay Railway Terminus

Blacksod Bay Railway TerminusInterior of the Station Hall

This is an extract from The Building News and Engineering Journal Oct 13 1915. There is currently an exhibition running in Ionad Deirbhile with more pictures and information regarding this interesting find.

Blacksod Bay Railway Terminus Station in the Harbour, Mayo, Connaught, Ireland

We give to-day an interior of the station hall or concourse, with an exterior perspective and plan, reduced, on a separate sheet, with the entrance elevation of this station, which has been designed to be built on a reef of rock projecting into Blacksod Bay, and to be a terminus for the Transatlantic traffic. The largest liners are able to berth at the end of this reef, which is the reason for the railway station being so placed.  The construction of the building is intended to be carried out in reinforced concrete.  The main feature is the concourse, which forms a waiting-place between the platforms and the harbour.  The interior perspective shown by our double-page plate was included in the Royal Academy Exhibition this year.  The architects are Messrs. E. B. Hoare and M. Wheeler  FF.R.I.B.A. of Portman Street, Portman Square W.”



Did you know that the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland is available free of charge on the National Archives website . Search by name or Browse by place.

The Mullet Peninsula is currently divided into D.E.D. (District Electoral Division) Binghamstown North and Binghamstown South. At the time of the 1901,1911 Census Belmullet D.E.D. also covered townlands on the peninsula.

In the Census records of 1901 & 1911 part of  what is now known as Blacksod is with the Fallmore records