Monday, May 13, 2013

A Tipperary Family Part 3

     In the fall of 1845, an almost incomprehensible tragedy befell Ireland.  The potato crop, their staple food, failed.  In 1846, it failed again.  The results were catastrophic.  As England looked on; maintaining nothing must interfere with the natural ebb and flow of the marketplace, people began to starve.  The crop of 1847 was a success, but too few potatoes had been planted and the hunger continued.  In 1848 the blight returned with a vengeance.  Although Tipperary was badly affected, some counties to the west were much worse off and the dispossessed from those places flowed into the district, straining the meager resources of Tipperary and spreading epidemic disease.

     That same year, William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Francis Meagher, leaders of a nationalist group called Young Ireland journeyed to Paris to congratulate the French on their newly formed Republic.  Inspired by the success of the French revolution, upon their return they traveled through Counties Wexford and Kilkenny to Tipperary, fomenting rebellion as they went.  This new generation of revolutionaries fared no better than their grandfathers did in 1798.  The only real battle was fought in Ballingarry, South Tipperary, and became known as the battle of Widow McCormack’s cabbage patch.  It was here that the Irish tricolor first flew over a battle.  O’Brien and Smith seemed not to take into account the physical state of the Irish people, weakened as they were by famine and disease.  Victory would have been doubtful in the best of circumstances, but revolution waged by sick, half starved, poorly armed scarecrows was doomed to failure.  The leaders were quickly captured and sentenced to death, though later commuted to transportation to the British penal colony on the distant island of VanDieman’s Land (Tasmania).

Mud Cabin
     The year 1849 saw the return of the blight, but on a much lesser scale.  By that time the workhouses of Ireland were full to bursting, millions had died, and another million had been forced to leave their country.  In County Tipperary between the years 1845 and 1850, almost 70,000 people died, the death rate had quadrupled!  Although Tipperary had one of the highest rates of emigration, the Ryans rode out the famine in Ireland.  But a much changed Ireland it was.  The countryside was emptied; those who poverty and disease did not sweep away, the landlords did as they cleared their estates of unwanted tenants.  Fifteen thousand mud cabins in Tipperary disappeared between 1841 and 51.  In a letter to Irish expatriates in Australia one resident of South Tipperary wrote:
You could not think how lonely everyplace is here; everyone who can go is going. I rode by your little cottage a few days ago, and thistles were growing in the middle of the road.”

     After being counted in Griffith's Valuation in 1850, Cornelius Ryan made one final appearance in official Irish records, being those of the Tipperary District Petty Court.  In them we find Cornelius Ryan of Goldengarden convicted of being drunk in Greenane on the fourth of November, 1852.   According to Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, November fourth happens to be market day in Tipperary Town.  Since Cornelius would have passed through Greenane on his way home from Tipperary Town, it could be speculated that he had a good time at the market.

    At this point the Ryan family disappeared from known Irish records, not to reappear until 1855 in New York State.  We don’t know whether they were victims of landlord clearances, but it’s possible; Lord Hawarden was notorious for ejecting his tenants.  And so the Ryans too eventually began to leave Ireland.  Cornelius and Alice’s oldest daughters Anna and Mary, along with their brother Andrew left Ireland, coming to the United States in approximately 1854.  The 1855 New York State Census shows Andrew Ryan and Terrence Sheen (Sheehan), both laborers, living with the Smith family of Palmyra.  Later that year Terrence married Andrew’s sister Mary Ryan.  The oldest Ryan son, Michael, may or may not have come to the United States.  With such a common name it is impossible to tell from census records unless the family was living together, which they weren’t when they arrived.  Instead they resided with their individual employers.

     It’s possible Michael had married and chose not to leave Ireland with the rest of his family.  This intriguing article appeared in Reynolds’s Newspaper on April 22, 1894:
    News wanted of Michael Ryan, son of Michael and Johanna (Dwyer) Ryan of Goldengarden, Anacarty, Tipperary who left Ballychoohy, near Tipperary in 1888.  Last heard from about five or six years ago, was then a city policeman in St. Louis. Heard lately he was found dead outside the city.  Any information will be thankfully received by his sister Mary Ryan, care of the Editor of Reynolds’s Newspaper.  American papers please copy.  

     Could this Michael Ryan and Johanna Dwyer Ryan be the son and daughter in law of Connor and Ally?  The time frame is right, and Goldengarden was a very small place, by 1861 only 43 men and 45 women lived there.

Part 4 Tomorrow 

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