The O'Donoghue Society

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


The blogs are for reporting or discussing something or some subject.

As distinguished from our forums which are for family history enquiries and responses as now, where people are looking for someone or something and the journal which is for longer well researched articles usually, but not exclusively, of a historical or genealogical nature.

This page lists all blogs in date order. The links to the left allow you to see the blogs categorised by subject matter.  To add Comments click on the Category and then on the title to the blog you wish to contribute to.

In order to post you must be logged in.  This is necessary to avoid spam type attacks on site.
James John Donahue, Deputy Sheriff, Griggs County, North Dakota
By Thomas M Witte (his son-in-law)
(Born in Winona, MN on April 24, 1912, Died in Valley City, ND on January 22, 1993)
A close up of a newspaperDescription automatically generated
James Donahue was the father of my wife, Colleen Donahue Witte. His g-grandfather and mother were Philip Donahue and Mary Hays Donahue, both from Ireland.
After WWII and a stint in the US Navy, “Jim” and wife Marjorie moved from his home state of Minnesota to Hannaford, North Dakota (Marjorie’s home). Hannaford was a small-town with a population of about 200 people in Griggs County which is in east-central North Dakota.
As the above political advertisement shows, he spent several years as a deputy sheriff of Griggs County, headquartered in Cooperstown, ND which was about 15 miles from his home. He also served as town policeman for Hannaford at various times.
A truck is parked on the side of a roadDescription automatically generated
The photo left from the late 1950 shows Deputy Sheriff Donahue on the far left.
He was a well-liked and respected law enforcement official of his County. A man of integrity who served honorably, and who justly upheld the law, putting no difference between neighbor and stranger. He told many stories of the various problems and situations that he faced in his work in that sparsely populated area of the US. The events that troubled him the most were the accidents that he responded to where someone was either hurt or killed. Then there were the situations where a neighbor would want to be shown special favor in an incident. His daughter Colleen tells of the time when he picked up the parents of a boy she was dating for speeding. They expected leniency but did not get it, which led to some unpleasant feelings between Colleen and her boy-friend’s parents. Colleen also tells of the time he came to the aid of a woman and her child who had hit deer in the middle of the night. They were strangers travelling through that area. Their car was damaged so they could not continue and having no place to stay, Deputy Sheriff Donahue took them to his home where Marjorie (a registered nurse) cleaned them up and tended their minor injuries. They were then given a bed to sleep in for the night. Someone came for them the following day. For many years the woman stayed in touch with Jim and Marjorie by letter.

Deputy Sheriff Jim Donahue at his home in Hannaford, overlooking Bald Hill Creek.
He did not become Sheriff of Griggs County. Unhappy circumstances led him to resign as candidate for Sheriff before the election. He continued serving as Deputy.
Contributed by Thomas Witte

Elopement Frustrated by Sheriff Donahue

This interesting little account of long ago was in the Winona Minnesota Republican-Herald on Saturday August 10, 1907 in which a certain Sheriff Donohue of Mankato, MN played a part.


Research on and provided the following information on the above mentioned Sheriff Donahue.
His full name was John William Donahue (spelled with an “a” in the obituary). He was born in Illinois of Thomas Donahue and wife Margaret (Hartnett) Donahue who came from Ireland to the USA during the civil war and settled on a farm in Kinsman, Illinois. John W. was born on this farm in 1866. He received a splendid education in Illinois and in 1893 he accepted a position as a traveling farm machinery salesman headquartered in Mankato, MN. In 1901 Mr. Donahue retired from the road and engaged in the retail farm implement business in Mankato.
He served as Chief of Police of Mankato in 1903, 1911 and 1912. At the expiration of his first term of chief of police, in the fall of 1906, He was elected to the office of sheriff and proved a most efficient and painstaking official. He was a man possessed of a kindly and charitable nature and was a friend to all. As a public official he was very successful, attentive, obliging, conservative and judicious in the fulfillment of his duties and anxious to serve the county and city to the very best of his ability. He cherished no animosity and was always willing and wanted to help mankind when in need. He too, was a kind and devoted husband and father. Mr. Donahue was married to Martha Reynolds Bohan, in this city June 20th 1907. They had five children. He died on July 7, 1919.
Extracted From Mankato Free Press clipping 1-28-1919
Finally, it is interesting to note that that the frustrated elopers, Samuel Tillotson and Edith Stockdill never married each other.
Contributed by Daniel Flynn

In Worcester Mass, the first large group of Irish arrived in 1820 to build the Worcester to Providence canal. They were prohibited from living in the village proper and were relegated to the swamp land along the Blackstone river where the canal was being built. Many of them stayed to build the Worcester to Boston  RR, which competed with the canal. Other Irish followed, especially in the wake of the 1840 famines, throughout the 1800s. By the end of the century Worcester had more Irish per capita than Boston, with many Kerry O'Donoghues. They moved up from the lowland on the east side of the village to the surrounding hills. Many emigrants from Italy, Russia, Poland, etc. followed, creating the polyglot East Side. Also living on the East Side in those early years were freed African Americans. I'm the 1950s, the polyglot whites and the African American kids played basket ball in the school yard. The African Americans on one team, calling themselves "boots", naming the mixed nationality white team as "paddys". Boots refers to boot black, an early occupation, during a time when most of their white neighbors were Irish.

Contributed by Tim Donohue

Butte, Montana: Ireland's Fifth Province

My earliest memory as a child was watching a St. Patrick’s Day parade on my Father’s shoulders. My Dad was posted to Butte, Montana, USA with a busy post WW2 Army reserve unit. It was a hard scrabble rural mining town far away from the larger metropolises we associate with the Irish like Boston or San Francisco.
Years later when I became interested in my Irish family, I realized that Butte is regarded as one of the most Irish influenced small cities in America. It was town of many immigrants, but no other cultural group flocked to Butte quite like the Irish.
So, how did this heritage start? The story goes, in the late 1800s following the discovery of gold, silver, copper and other rich minerals in this area Butte became the center of high paying jobs and opportunities. Butte was known as the richest hill on earth.  Hundreds of Irish men and women emigrated here chasing this new prosperity. An oft-told story is of emigrants being told, “don’t stop in America, go straight to Butte!”
Marcus Daly, one of the three “Copper Kings,” was born in Cavan and spoke Gaelic. When he saw the potential for demand in copper, he surrounded himself with fellow Irishmen. The Irish culture prevailed and was assimilated throughout the community.
At the height of Butte’s prosperity in 1900 one-fourth of the Butte population was Irish, a bigger percentage than any city in the United States including Boston.  The Butte Irish, came from Cork, Mayo, Donegal, Kerry, Cavan and Wexford.
By the early twentieth century, there were 1200 Sullivan’s in the Butte City directory. (Irish Genealogical Society International).
The 2019 city of Butte is 30-odd thousand people, down from nearly 100,000 during WWI and is no longer the Richest Hill on Earth. Changes in technology and society, the depletion of immense orebodies, and the discovery of even more incredible deposits elsewhere have stolen that crown. What remains in Butte is a unique and storied city with a core group of people who still celebrate much of their Irish heritage. It is never more evident than on St. Patricks Day.
Contributed by James Hugh Donohoe

Sydney had its area with a high concentration of Irish families in the 1920s. The area was borderline "Ghetto". Historians might challenge this observation  because Irish had arrived since 1788 and they were also sprinkled around Sydney generally, many families having integrated with the Anglo Communities. These Inner Sydney suburbs were Surry Hills, Wooloomooloo and Paddington, My Irish Donohoe family lived there 1880 to 1900.
Author Ruth Park wrote at least two novels on the subject. These are great stories. Movies have been made based on these books. The DVDs are available on the Internet. The books are titled "The Harp in the South" and "Poor Man's Orange".
The books focuses on a family living in the area amid a low class social environment. These areas embraced the Sydney red light district and the family interacts with the Madam, sly grog (moonshine?) business, cheap gangsters and stand-over men whilst on the positive side abides with the local Clergy amidst the Church society.
A biography of one of the Irish Madams, insinuated in these books, Kate Leigh nee Beahan, is sited on the Internet,
I actually met Kate just before she died. It was a very unpleasant experience.
I also lived near the country town of Boorowa about ten years ago. That was an Irish town. The population is less than 2,000 people. It has a beautiful Catholic Church with the most stunning Altar and Sanctuary made of Italian marble. There is a local quote about a Nun travelling through the United States who was asked if she had been to Rome. She answered "No, but I have been to Boorowa". My Donohoe prospected for gold there in the 1880s. My great-grandfather fashioned his bride's wedding ring from Boorowa gold. I have it.

Contributed by Helen Frazier

In Portland Maine there was a very large community in Portland's West End.  St. Dominic's church was at the center of the community and although it isn't a church  but  now  the Maine Irish Heritage Center, there still remains a large number of Irish families in and around that area.   Most, but not all, of the Irish who came to Portland came from the Galway /Connemara/Aran Islands region

Contributed by Beth Donahue Cherkowsky

Philadelphia has one of the largest populations of Americans of Irish descent - it was at 14% last figures I read in a reliable documented article.  There are still "ghettos" of Irish-descent in South Philadelphia, Kensington and Southwest Phila  along with a lot of areas of Delaware County (one of the 5 counties in this corner of the state and contiguous with the city on that side of the city.    

Going back 70-80 years, the irish settled in West Philadelphia and many of those folks, when they made enough to move out, moved to Delaware County.  There were also communities in South Phila (a lot of whom upped and moved to South Jersey in the 60's and 70's.  And those in Kensinglon and Port Richmond (towns that go absorbed into Phila and became neighborhoods) moved further north or northeast into the undeveloped northeast of the city during the same times frame. 

There's a huge article on Wikipedia about the Irish in philadelphia which is much more detailed if you or anyone else is interested..  Here is the link. 



Carol Hurley Law, responding to ‘How the Famine affected my family’ tells us the story of her Kerry/Cork families settled on Irish Mountain in West Virginia.
This was so extensive I felt it should be given the length of a journal article and with full picture content.


Thomas Witte, responding to ‘Irish Ghettos, where did the Irish settle in large numbers in your hometown?’ introduces us to some Connemara Irish who settled in an area of St Paul Minnesota which became known as Connemara Patch.
This was so extensive I felt it should be given the length of a journal article and with full picture content.


Contributed by Mike Donahue

My g-grandfather, Patrick O'Donoghue immigrated to Chicago with his wife, Mary Kelly in the 1850s. He joined his brother, Michael and his wife, Catherine Harty.  They settled in a heavily Irish neighborhood 3 miles south of downtown. Over the years, this neighborhood was called "Hard Scrabble," then "Cabbagetown" and finally, Bridgeport.

Work digging a canal was plentiful for men with strong backs; one brother was a laborer, the other was a teamster. St Bridget's church opened about the time Patrick arrived and with it came a school. Though conditions were better than they were in Ireland, this ghetto was tough. Here's a quote that appeared in a Chicago newspaper in 1867:

“ 1867 Chicago’s captains of industry called in the state’s militia to repress Irish strikers in Bridgeport, a suburb dominated by packing houses, rolling mills and workers’ shanties. In short, as one outraged immigrant declared,  the life of an Irish laborer in mid-century America was often “despicable, humiliating, (and) slavish”… there “was no love lost for him - no protection of life- (he) can be shot down, run through, kicked, cuffed, spat on -- and no redress, but the response: served the damn son of an Irish _____ right, damn him.”