Date(s) - 08/09/2016
9:00 am - 7:30 pm

Clarinbridge Oyster Festival Marquee


Major Conference to focus on Galway County Diaspora

Emigration and the Galway County Diaspora will be the focus of a major conference, to be held by Galway County Council, on Thursday 8th September in Clarinbridge.

This free conference entitled ‘Emigration and Our Galway County Diaspora’ a central element of the Global and Diaspora strand of Galway County Council’s 1916 Centenary Programme, takes place in the unique setting of the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival Marquee, on the banks of the River Clarin.

The event, being held with the support of the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival and Bridge that Gap, a community based jobs and tourism initiative for Oranmore – Maree – Clarinbridge, seeks to give an insight into story of the county’s far flung Diaspora including those who emigrated from the County of Galway to places such as the UK, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid, Joe McHugh, T.D, will officially open the conference following a welcome address by Cllr. Michael Connolly, Cathaoirleach of the County of Galway.

Contributors to the conference programme will include Dr. Gerard Moran an authority on the Irish diaspora, the Great Famine and landlord and tenant relations in Ireland who will deliver a lecture on ‘Uncovering Galway’s Lost Emigrants in the Nineteenth Century: Assisting the Poor to Leave’. He will be followed by John Grenham who will discuss ‘UK Sources for Galway Emigrants’. John is the author of Tracing your Irish Ancestors (4th ed. 2012), the standard guide. He was the co-presenter of RTE’s ‘The Genealogy Roadshow’ and formerly wrote the ‘Irish Roots’ column in The Irish Times, where he also ran their Irish Ancestors sub-site. He now runs the successor to that site at

Dr Jennifer Redmond is Lecturer in Twentieth Century Irish History in the Department of History at Maynooth University and Director of the MA in Irish History. Her research is currently focused on migration in the revolutionary period and she is a specialist in Irish women’s migration to Britain in the twentieth century. Jennifer will speak about ‘Wanderers and Workers: Migration from post-Famine Ireland’. Brian Donovan will discuss ‘Tracing the Irish in Australia and New Zealand’. Brian is the Global Head of Irish Collections at

Closer to home Eileen Davis & Máirtín Ó Catháin from Carna will deliver a lecture on ‘The Ghosts of Gorham’s Corner’. Eileen has played a key role in developing the concept of the Emigrants Commemorative Centre in Carna.  A native of Clifden, her ancestry is deeply embedded along the stony seashore of the south Connemara Gaeltacht. All of Máirtín’s great grandparents were from the parish of Carna in west Connemara.  All four of his grandparents were from the parish of Carna;  his parents were from the parish of Carna and ….guess what?  He is also from the parish of Carna. He is a journalist, he also runs a small farm and he is the chairperson of the Emigrants Commemorative Centre committee in Carna. He has written widely about the people of Connemara abroad and has visited Portland Maine and the Irish Heritage Centre on many occasions.

‘Tracing Galway’s emigrants in the United States and Canada’ is the title of Joe Buggy’s lecture. Joe Buggy is a genealogist with AncestryProGenealogists, the in-house research team of

He is the author of Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City, the first book on the topic. Joe has previously written about Irish genealogy research in the U.S. in a series of articles for Irish Lives Remembered genealogy magazine. In conjunction with his day job, he also runs the Townland of Origin ( website and blog, which focuses on Irish genealogical research in the United States and Canada.

Dr Regina Donlon graduated with a PhD from Maynooth University in 2014. She is currently working as an Irish Research Council Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the National University of Ireland, Galway where her work examines assisted emigration from the west of Ireland to the American Midwest during the period from 1880 to 1930. Her research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century Irish history, American history in the Reconstruction era and transnationalism. Regina will talk about ‘This is a good country for all kind of men’: the experience of James Hack Tuke’s Connemara emigrants in the American Midwest, 1880-1930.

In addition, Dúchas na Gaillimhe – Galway Civic Trust will showcase their new project called the ‘Galway Tribal Diaspora Project’. The Trust is seeking the assistance of the Galway public for this new initiative which seeks to record the stories and experiences of Galway emigrants around the world.

Galway Family History Society West and Galway Family History Society East, as well as the Western Family History Association and Ireland Reaching Out will have information stands at the conference.

The conference programme concludes with an Aeraíocht which is a celebration in music, song and dance from 6.15pm to 7.30pm. The Aeraíocht is a presentation and celebration of the cultural traditions of the county in music, song, dance and poetry, with a range of world-class musicians, singers and dancers taking to the stage.

It is fitting that the conference, taking place during the centenary year of the 1916 Rising, is being held in Clarinbridge, a location that played a central role in the events of the 1916 Rising.   Clarinbridge was the location for the first attack by the Galway Volunteers, when almost 100 Volunteers, led by Liam Mellows, attacked the RIC barracks at Clarinbridge on Tuesday, 25th April 1916

Galway County Council wishes to acknowledge the support and assistance of Clarenbridge Oyster Festival, Clarinbridge Heritage Group, Bridge that Gap (Oranmore – Maree – Clarenbridge Jobs & Tourism Initiative), East Galway Family History Society Co.  Ltd., Galway Family History Society West Ltd., Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) and the Western Family History Association (WFHA). 

 For further information and to register for this free conference, please contact Galway County Council on 091 509121 or email

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Conference: Emigration & Our Galway County Diaspora