The O'Donoghue Society

For all those interested in history and genealogy and whose names are derived from the Gaelic

February snippet: How the Famine affected my family - Case 1

Submitted by Carol Hurley

The indescribably harsh decade of the Irish Famine turned out to be in time a positive happening for my Irish Immigrant ancestors and their descendants.    My paternal greatgrandfather was Thomas Hurley.  According to son’s written history, Thomas was born in 1815 to Jeremiah Hurley and Honora Fitzgerald, in County Kerry, somewhere south of the Shannon River, not far from Tralee.   He emigrated in 1846.  He possibly sailed from Queensland, Cobh Ireland to Liverpool, England for Atlantic sailing To New York City.  There he was hired as a railroad laborer in Vermont.   In I847, he married Catherine Lawlor in Brattleboro, Vermont.   Catherine too was a Kerry Immigrant from near Listowel.   In 1840, 15-year old Catherine sailed with older brother Richard to Quebec, Canada.   For seven years, they were indentured servants at a Catholic Indian Reservation. 

Thomas and Catherine’s first child, my grandmother Honora, was born in 1848.  They were to have 12 more children.   Seven made it to adulthood. 
 
Thomas and Catherine found their way to Virginia where they farmed for 18 years.   In spite of a huge family to support, the couple managed to save enough money to buy a mountain in the brand new state of West Virginia.   And had the wherewithal to split it into legal lots.   It covered a portion of three counties, Fayette, Greenbrier and Summers.   They deeded only to Irish Catholics.    Farming was not easy in the steep, rocky Appalachian Mountains.   This enterprise could be called a “rural ghetto,” like the Catholics in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan.  

Thomas and Catherine organized their fellow Irish Catholic immigrants into a united group where labor and resources were shared for the greater good of all.   Not really so unlike the ideology then being formulated by Marx and Lenin across the Atlantic.   
My mother and father, children and grandchildren of Famine immigrants, grew up next farm to each other on “Irish Mountain,” as it came to be known.   Mother Irene’s parents were Mary Sullivan and Patrick Donahoe, son of Florence Donnoghue and Mary Moynihan, famine immigrants from Killarney.   Father William Hurley’s parents were Honora Hurley and John Hurley, a Cork Famine immigrant. 
I grew up in Ohio listening to stories about life on the remote mountain.   Day to day survival had to be really tough, but their core strength and deep Catholic faith provided an unbreakable bond.   Eventually Thomas and his Mountain neighbors accumulated enough money to purchase a tract of land in Fayette County.    For the next 25 years they cleared the land, buried their dead, and built a charming New England Style chapel-meeting hall called the Sacred Heart Church, where weddings are still being held today by descendants of the original Irish Mountain settlers.    The first mass was held I 1898, some 25 years after Thomas became the first resident on his Mountain.  My two sisters, and many, many relatives are buried there.   My brother Basil Hurley and our first cousin Bernard Twohig wrote a history of the area called “Foresight, Fortitude, Fulfillment.”   And what an apt description this is of these remarkable Irish immigrants.
 
Although there is an anti-immigrant sentiment in our land today, I’m so proud of My Immigrants.  I can’t but think that their commitment to their families, their faith, and to their new country was anything but a great gift to America, and to their descendants.  I have hundreds of cousins who share my story, themselves Irish Mountain descendants.  We can all be proud and joyous about our bountiful heritage. 
 
Submitted by Carol Hurley

The indescribably harsh decade of the Irish Famine turned out to be in time a positive happening for my Irish Immigrant ancestors and their descendants.    My paternal greatgrandfather was Thomas Hurley.  According to son’s written history, Thomas was born in 1815 to Jeremiah Hurley and Honora Fitzgerald, in County Kerry, somewhere south of the Shannon River, not far from Tralee.   He emigrated in 1846.  He possibly sailed from Queensland, Cobh Ireland to Liverpool, England for Atlantic sailing To New York City.  There he was hired as a railroad laborer in Vermont.   In I847, he married Catherine Lawlor in Brattleboro, Vermont.   Catherine too was a Kerry Immigrant from near Listowel.   In 1840, 15-year old Catherine sailed with older brother Richard to Quebec, Canada.   For seven years, they were indentured servants at a Catholic Indian Reservation. 

Thomas and Catherine’s first child, my grandmother Honora, was born in 1848.  They were to have 12 more children.   Seven made it to adulthood. 
 
Thomas and Catherine found their way to Virginia where they farmed for 18 years.   In spite of a huge family to support, the couple managed to save enough money to buy a mountain in the brand new state of West Virginia.   And had the wherewithal to split it into legal lots.   It covered a portion of three counties, Fayette, Greenbrier and Summers.   They deeded only to Irish Catholics.    Farming was not easy in the steep, rocky Appalachian Mountains.   This enterprise could be called a “rural ghetto,” like the Catholics in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan.  

Thomas and Catherine organized their fellow Irish Catholic immigrants into a united group where labor and resources were shared for the greater good of all.   Not really so unlike the ideology then being formulated by Marx and Lenin across the Atlantic.   
My mother and father, children and grandchildren of Famine immigrants, grew up next farm to each other on “Irish Mountain,” as it came to be known.   Mother Irene’s parents were Mary Sullivan and Patrick Donahoe, son of Florence Donnoghue and Mary Moynihan, famine immigrants from Killarney.   Father William Hurley’s parents were Honora Hurley and John Hurley, a Cork Famine immigrant. 
I grew up in Ohio listening to stories about life on the remote mountain.   Day to day survival had to be really tough, but their core strength and deep Catholic faith provided an unbreakable bond.   Eventually Thomas and his Mountain neighbors accumulated enough money to purchase a tract of land in Fayette County.    For the next 25 years they cleared the land, buried their dead, and built a charming New England Style chapel-meeting hall called the Sacred Heart Church, where weddings are still being held today by descendants of the original Irish Mountain settlers.    The first mass was held I 1898, some 25 years after Thomas became the first resident on his Mountain.  My two sisters, and many, many relatives are buried there.   My brother Basil Hurley and our first cousin Bernard Twohig wrote a history of the area called “Foresight, Fortitude, Fulfillment.”   And what an apt description this is of these remarkable Irish immigrants.
 
Although there is an anti-immigrant sentiment in our land today, I’m so proud of My Immigrants.  I can’t but think that their commitment to their families, their faith, and to their new country was anything but a great gift to America, and to their descendants.  I have hundreds of cousins who share my story, themselves Irish Mountain descendants.  We can all be proud and joyous about our bountiful heritage. 
 
05.03.2019