Ireland Emigration and Immigration

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See the "Irish Emigration to North America: Before, During, and After the Famine" tutorial on FamilySearch.org. and "Ireland Beginning Research Series Immigration Part 2: Famine and Post Famine Sources" tutorial at FamilySearch.org.

Online Databases[edit | edit source]

Emigration to Canada[edit | edit source]

Australia[edit | edit source]

  • Passenger Lists Immigration South Australia, index. Immigrant passenger arrivals in South Australia (usually at Port Adelaide) from Australian ports up to 1847, UK & Ireland up to 1850 and Germany up to 1858, totaling more than 2,000 voyages.
Convicts[edit | edit source]
Guide to penal transportation records: Ireland to Australia, 1788–1868

The Irish Ancestor Periodical[edit | edit source]

There are many Indexes in The Irish Ancestor, of convicts requesting wife and children to be sent out to Australia, at the government's expense.

Earl Grey Irish Female Orphans Records[edit | edit source]

Earl Grey's Famine Orphan Scheme transported 4114 Irish orphan girls to the New South Wales colony. At the height of the Irish Famine, the Earl Grey scheme fashioned a plan to ease overcrowding in the workhouses of Ireland, while providing serving staff and a way to help settle the new Australian colony.

Passenger Lists to Ireland[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Emigration records are about people leaving a country. Immigration records are about people entering a country.
Records of emigration and immigration include:

  • passenger lists,
  • permissions to emigrate,
  • records of passports issued,
  • lists of transported prisoners, and
  • registers of assistance to emigrate.

These records may contain, for the person immigrating or emigrating:

  • the name,
  • age,
  • occupation,
  • destination,
  • place of origin or birthplace,
  • date of departure, and
  • date and ship of arrival.

Names of fellow passengers may suggest familial relationships or provide hints about a passenger's place of origin or destination.

No records are required for movements within the British Isles countries (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands).

Records were not required for free emigrants:

  • to the United States until 1773,
  • to Canada until 1865, or to
  • Australia, New Zealand, the British West Indies, or South Africa until the twentieth century.

No countrywide, official record was kept for people leaving Ireland.

Finding the Town of Origin in Ireland[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Ireland, see Ireland Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.


Irish Emigration--Irish Diaspora[edit | edit source]

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Off to America

The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants especially in countries such as:

To a lesser extent, Irish people also immigrated to:

The diaspora contains over 80 million people and it is the result of mass migration from Ireland, due to past famines (especially the Great Famine), poverty, and political oppression. [1]

Reasons Irish Emigrated[edit | edit source]

Emigrants leave Ireland

The Irish throughout history had many reasons for leaving Ireland. As well many among those remaining in Ireland would have emigrated but were unable to, due to poverty or impoverishment. Many Irishmen during the Great Famine years who did embark were in such sickened and critically weakened condition that death followed many while traversing the high seas to their new world home.

Generally, the Irishman's reasons for emigrating--if not compelled to do so, to countries abroad were due to an intolerable convergence of circumstances including, but not limited to:

  • dire economic conditions that destituted families
  • austere political policies such as the Crown's Penal laws (from 1695-1829)
  • a series of circumstances surrounding devastating crop failures especially in the mid-19th Century.
  • social and religious persecution against most nonconformists and Catholics (the dominant segment of Irish society)

For a more complete list detailing the devastating effects of the Penal Laws and the main reasons for emigrating, read Compelling Reasons Why The Irish Emigrated.

Types of Emigration from Ireland[edit | edit source]

Emigration from Ireland began as early as 1603, when people immigrated to areas such as continental Europe, the islands of the Caribbean, the British colonies, and other parts of the British Isles. Emigration increased during periods of civil or religious unrest or famine in Ireland as well as during various gold rushes in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. The period of greatest emigration began around 1780 and reached its peak from 1845 to 1855, when between one and two million people left Ireland because of the potato famine. The following categories of emigrants account for most people who emigrated from Ireland:

  • Free emigrants. Starting in the seventeenth century, emigrants left Ireland to seek opportunity in a new land; to flee religious persecution, poverty, or oppression; and to seek political asylum following rebellion in Ireland.
  • Assisted emigrants. In the nineteenth century, qualified emigrants received passage money or land grants as incentives to emigrate. Assistance was viewed by officials as an alternative to providing poor relief for able-bodied, unemployed workers and for the starving masses during famine. After 1840, colonies such as New Zealand and Australia offered money or land grants to skilled workers to attract needed immigrants.
  • Transported prisoners. From 1611 to 1870, more than fifty thousand Irish criminals were sentenced to deportation to a penal colony for a number of years. Beginning with Irishmen who rebelled against Cromwell's army in 1649, political prisoners were also often deported. Many Irish prisoners were sent to America, primarily to Virginia and Maryland, until 1775. From 1788 to 1869, over forty thousand Irish prisoners were sent to Australia. Many of those deported were later pardoned on the condition that they would never return to Ireland.
  • Military personnel. Soldiers serving overseas were offered land or other inducements to settle in the colony where they were serving when they were discharged. This settlement practice was common for soldiers in Australia from 1791, Canada from 1815, and New Zealand from 1844.

Records of Irish Emigrants in Their Destination Countries[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to immigration records for major destination countries below.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

There are additional sources listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "List of diasporas", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diasporas#I, accessed 29 June 2021.