Genealogy on a Shoestring

This workshop is open to all interested in learning about genealogical research for beginners. It outlines the various available resources on the internet and the local history of the area utilised by Rosemarie Geraghty throughout her work on the Blacksod Bay Emigration Project – the Tuke Assisted Emigration of 1883-1884 from Blacksod Bay to Boston & Quebec.

May 2nd 2015     

Join us for an overview of the genealogical resources utilised during the Blacksod Bay Emigration Project, including a wide variety of free online resources. Have you relatives who emigrated in 1883-1884 from Ireland. Are your ancestors originally from County Mayo? This workshop will help you discover your roots.

“Our history is their history and theirs is ours. By remembering the people who left we welcome back their descendants” Rosemarie Geraghty SST Paróiste na Cille Móire

Registration: The public should register by emailing Rosemarie to reserve a space.

Cost: €4 including Tea / Coffee and homemade scone.

Location: Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, An Eachléim, An Fód Dubh, Co. Mhaigh Eo, Éire, Ireland.

Time: 14:00 – 16:00

Additional Information

Workshop Topics:

  1. Introduction to Blacksod Bay Emigration Project
  2. Research conducted to date
  3. Summary of free sources
  4. Group discussion on own experiences and helpful sources has already helped numerous descendants engage with their ancestor’s story and discover their heritage. Some have already returned to Blacksod. Will your family be the next to discover their roots and feature on our descendant’s website?



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

An Irishman’s Diary


Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 00:00

One of the more picturesque events of next year’s Gathering, surely, will be the opening of a commemorative garden on the shores of Blacksod Bay, Co Mayo.

The garden will honour emigrants who left that beautiful, if economically desolate, part of Ireland in the late 19th century. But although emigration was all-too-common in the area then, the particular event being commemorated was unique in several respects.

When the first 350 people left Blacksod in March 1883, for example, an Irish Times correspondent noted that the scene lacked “the usual display of grief and sorrowful leave-taking” on such occasions.

The reason, in part, may have been that whole families were going together, one of the stipulations of a fund that was paying their fares to Boston and Quebec. On this occasion, at least, there was no need for American wakes, at which parents said goodbye to children they would never see again.

Another principle of the scheme, officially anyway, was that nobody would be forced to go. The fund had been set up in the wake of the Arrears Act of 1882, which allowed for cancellation of outstanding rents. Even so, financial circumstances for many in the “congested districts” remained dire.

As he watched the steamer leave the bay, the IT reporter was in no doubt that this and subsequent migrations would improve the lot both of those who left and those who stayed. “At all events one desirable end will have been attained,” he wrote, “the abolition of many holdings of five and six acres of sterile, boggy land, upon which the people dwelt in wretchedness and dirt.” There was no shortage of take-up, anyway. Between 1883 and 1884, some 3,297 emigrants sailed from Blacksod, mostly for Boston. It is hoped some of their offspring will now return for the opening of the Garden of Remembrance, and a series of related events in late July next, organised around the local Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre.

Background circumstances aside, the Blacksod emigrations were also unusual for the manner of departure. Although the bay was then, as it remains, of the best natural anchorages in Europe, it had no quayside from which passengers could embark.

Instead, emigrants had to be taken out in rowboats and other smaller vessels to the deeper water where the main ship awaited.

But what may give an added poignancy to next year’s commemorations is that, at the end of the 19th century, thanks to its natural advantages, Blacksod Bay appeared poised for maritime greatness.

During the first decade of the 20th century, it was mooted as the terminus of a new shipping route that would, as one commentator put it, “make Ireland the highroad of traffic between Canada and the United Kingdom and between the Eastern and Western Worlds”.

Galway was in the running too. But by 1911, Blacksod Bay was favourite for a scheme that would have seen Liverpool ousted not just as the transatlantic departure point for British passenger traffic, but for Scandinavia too. With the provision of rail ferries from Holyhead, it was even predicted that, soon, Londoners would leave Euston Station and not have to set foot outside their carriages until Mayo.

In November 1913, newspapers reported that construction of the harbour at Blacksod Bay would almost certainly commence in the new year and that, in the words of a former local MP, its effects on world commerce would outdo “the Panama Canal”.

As late as 1915, although construction still hadn’t started, the British Royal Academy featured designs of a magnificent Blacksod Bay Railway Terminus, to be built on a reef jutting into the harbour, from where passengers would board the world’s largest liners.

But events on mainland Europe had by then taken an unfortunate turn. And even though war gave Blacksod Bay another chance to demonstrate its worth – the North Atlantic Fleet anchored there – time and tide was running out on the need for express shipping lanes between Britain and its “colonies”.

The Blacksod Bay commemorative events will take place between July 21st and 27th next, and you can find out more from Further down the west coast, meanwhile, and slightly later in the summer, the island of Inis Mór will be also hosting a new event, in this case literary.

It follows a meeting in Galway last week, advertising which (Irishman’s Diary November 29th) we lamented that, almost alone of his generation of writers, Liam O’Flaherty did not have a summer school or festival in his honour. No longer. The first annual Liam O’Flaherty Weekend is now tentatively scheduled to take place some time around August 28th, his birthday.

Blacksod Bay Emigration 1883 – 1884

Article re Emigration from North West Mayo in 1883 - 1884

Assisted emigration from Ireland to Boston & Quebec.

Long eisimircigh Cuan Fód Dubh Blacksod Bay Emigration Ships 1883-84

Tóstal Iorras, The Gathering Festival in Erris, along with Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, Eachléim, An Fód Dubh, Blacksod are marking the “Assisted Emigration” of the 1880s with a re-enactment walk from Béal an Mhuirthead, Belmullet to An Fód Dubh, Blacksod on the 24th of July 2013.

The Assisted Emigration was a scheme by which people in the most deprived areas of Ireland were helped to emigrate to the U.S. and Canada in search of a better life. Known as “The Tuke Fund” it was named after James Hack Tuke, a Quaker who for over 60 years sought to address starvation and deprivation in the West of Ireland.

Between the years 1883-84 entire families left these shores with over 3,300 people from North West Mayo emigrating on steamships of the “Allan Line” from Blacksod Bay bound for Boston and Quebec.

They were rowed out from the shores of Cuan Eilí, Elly Bay to the emigration ship in the deeper waters of the bay with many arriving from Achill on Hookers to embark the ship.

Rosemarie Geraghty researcher in Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre has spent over 5 year transcribing and collecting information to the extent that they now have copies of the original Ships’ Manifest for all 15 ships that left Cuan an Fód Dubh, Blacksod Bay in 1883 – 1884.

At 1pm on July 24th Atlantic Rhythm and Achill Pipe Band will perform in Béal an Mhuirthead. There will be an hour’s entertainment followed by a 1.5km walk following the route these people from Achill, Newport, Belmullet & Erris regionss would have taken to An Fód Dubh. A free bus will bring people from Béal an Mhuirthead, to a re-enactment in Ionad Deirbhile, Eachléim at 3pm – a family leaving their home heading for the ship, followed by a further 1.5km walk to the Official Opening of the Gairdín Cuimhneacháin in An Fód Dubh. There will be music, entertainment, a traditional craft marquee and a Family Fun Day at the Gairdín Cuimhneacháin in An Fód Dubh from 4.30pm – 6.30pm. This is a free event and everyone is welcome to attend. Atlantic rhythm will be dressed in period clothing and everybody is welcome to join them in doing so.

Ionad Deirbhile will be launching their online database which hosts a wealth of information relating to these passengers, where they came from, who they travelled with, where they went to and more. Here is a small sample of some of the family names of the passengers and the townlands they left from. Are any of your family listed here?

TALLAGH: Coleman, Sheerin, Fleming, Murphy, Mills, Shevlane, Toole, Jennings, Meenaghan, Ginnelly, Monaghan, Lavelle, Geraghty, Gaynard, Cooney, Caul, McNeila, Cawley, Gallagher. MORAHAN: Duggan and Ginnelly. AUGHALASHEEN: Togher, Monaghan, O’Malley, Reilly, Bell, Davis, Coyle, Lavelle, Murphy, Barrett Loftus, Murray. BALLYGLASS: Dinnery, Walsh. KNOCKSHAMBO: Dunleavy, Sullivan. TOORGLASS: Duggan, Gaughan, Rowan, Tighe, McEwan. CORCLOUGH: Carey, Keane, Murphy, Roach. BELMULLET: Buttler, Dixon. ATTYCUNNANE: Hopkins. ARDMORE: Madden, Kearns, Padden, Barry, Coleran, Geraghty, Tougher, Joyce, Gaughan. CARNE: Costello, Cafferty, Murray, Barrett, Monaghan. CURRAGHBOY: Geraghty. GLADDERY: Gilboy. EMLYBEG: Dunleavy, Gilboy. TARMON: McHale, Keane, Lavelle, Phillips. ELLY: Barrett, McGorman. CROSS: Gallagher, Gaughan, Ginnelly, Wilson, Kennedy. INISHKEA: Stephens, Barrett, Meenaghan. BARNAGH: Duggan, Manning, Lynch. FALLMORE: Lavelle. DEVLANE: Lavelle. INNISHGLORA: Gilboy, Gaughan. BINGHAMSTOWN: Lavelle, Barrett, Dixon. MULLAGHROE: Geraghty. DRUM: Geraghty. MONAGHRORY: Keane, Connor. AUGHADOON: Murphy, O’Boyle. CLOONEEN: Ruddy, Donahoe, Wills. CORCLOUGH: Monaghan.

More Townlands next week

Information available at

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

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

Whaling Afloat & Ashore 1908

This short 1908 film by London born inventor and pioneer cinematographer Robert William Paul (1869-1943) shows Norwegian and Irish whalers at the Rusheen Iniskea County Mayo whaling station. The boats involved in the enterprise were the Alectro, the Erling and the Carsten Bruun (Owner skipper Captain Lorentz Bruun) who later operated his own Norwegian Irish whaling station, Captain Bruun’s daughter Alice Bruun later (1913) visited the area and documented her observations.