New Guide to the Irish in New York City


Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City
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By Joseph Buggy. Softcover (2014), 165 pp., $19.95, plus postage. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211 (tel.: 1-800-296-6687).

Success in tracing your Irish ancestors in America may depend on knowing something about their dialect, as there are distinct accents in the Emerald Isle just as there are distinct accents in the U.S. “Take the name O’Neill,” says sociologist and genealogist Joseph Buggy. “In part of Ireland today this name is pronounced as ‘Nail.’ Therefore, an American census enumerator, or city directory compiler, who had never spoken to an Irish person before, would probably record his name as it sounded—Nail.” This is one of the tips that Buggy shares in his new book, Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City. Among other research strategies he discusses is the importance of understanding Irish surname formations, such as when Mc/Mac and O prefixes were dropped by some and when they reemerged in records.

In the pages of Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City, readers not only learn about the Irish in vital registrations, city directories, naturalizations, and wills and administrations, but also underutilized sources such as almshouse, potter’s field, public sector employment, and newspaper records.

“The Irish immigrant ancestor who arrived in New York offers researchers a good chance of finding the place of origin in Ireland, whether he or she settled in the city for generations or moved on soon after arrival,” says the author. Although the Irish settled almost everywhere in Gotham, they did tend to concentrate in different parts of the city during different time periods. In fact, immigrants from different counties tended to cluster in specific neighborhoods and streets. Buggy describes these movements within the city in detail, giving a good overview of areas where the Irish lived.

Especially helpful is the author’s discussion of Roman Catholic records and a list of parishes in New York City, in which he saves the researcher untold hours by listing churches (including addresses, telephone numbers, websites, e-mail addresses) with dates of earliest recorded baptisms and marriages, and important information such as neighborhoods each parish served, relocations, merges, and closings.

Another time-saver is Buggy’s list of nearly 500 articles relating to the Irish in New York as published in historical and genealogical periodicals since 1899. These include biographies, marriage licenses, ship arrivals, and military, among others. The book concludes with a list of helpful websites and publications.

Small print is a drawback to Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City; however, Joseph Buggy is clearly an expert on the subject, and concisely packs a tremendous amount of information in 165 pages.

Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City is also available from Amazon.com (affiliate link).

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