Ireland and America are inextricably linked. From the initial emigration of the Ulster Scots in the 18th century to Famine emigration of the mid 19th century the building blocks of the USA are heavily connected with the Irish. No fewer than 17 US presidents claim Irish ancestry and the ties can be found right across the island. Here are just some of the many sights and attractions that you can find related to America whilst on a private tour of Ireland with Little Gem...
The Annie Moore Statue in County Cork
The Annie Moore Statue is located in the quaint coastal town of Cobh in County Cork. The statue depicts Annie Moore who was the first immigrant to be processed in Ellis Island when the facility opened in 1892.
Contemporary sources suggest the girl was pushed to the front by her brothers, after an Irish longshoreman shouted “ladies first”. Others speculate that, in a room heaving with Italians, Armenians, Jews and Slovaks, an English-speaking northern European was chosen to present a more acceptable immigrant face for the assembled New York newsmen.
Whatever the truth, the Cobh native, newly arrived as a steerage passenger on the SS Nevada, stepped forward, was duly registered and presented with a $10 gold piece by the island’s superintendent.
The Kindred Spirits Statue in County Cork
In the heart of County Cork in the town of Midleton, The Kindred Spirits Sculpture commemorates a marvellous act of kindness by the Choctaw Native Americans when they raised $170 of their own money, equivalent to thousands of dollars today, in aid to supply food for the starving Irish during the hight of the famine in 1848.
The Valentia Island Transatlantic Cable Station in County Kerry
A journey around the Ring of Kerry would not be complete without a hop off to Valentia Island. Here you will find a commeration to the first transatlantic cable which was successfully placed in 1857 on the third attempt. The introduction of the telegraph stations to south west Kerry was immense and its effects can still be seen to this day in terms development of the villages of Waterville, Valentia and Ballinskelligs.
Moneygall Village in County Tipperary. Ancestral home of Barack Obama
Moneygall Village in County Tipperary, home to just over 300 people was put on the map when a connection with President Barack Obama was unearthed and the then president visited back in 2011. A plaque can be found in the village in the location of his great, great, great grandfather Falmouth Kearney's old homestead.
The Andrew Jackson Cottage in County Antrim
The Andrew Jackson Centre is housed in a mid 18th-century cottage at Boneybefore on the outskirts of Carrickfergus, just off the Larne Road close to the shore of Belfast Lough. The original Jackson home, from where Andrew Jackson’s parents and older brothers left for America in 1765, was just a short distance away, but was demolished in the 19th century to make way for the railway; a blue plaque marks the spot.
The exhibition tells the story of the Jackson family against the backdrop of what was happening in Ulster in the 17th and 18th centuries, including the arrival of settlers Britain, the rise of the linen industry and emigration to the American Colonies. It also looks at the life of Andrew Jackson, who rose from humble origins in the Carolinas to eventually become the 7th President of the United States.
John F Kennedy Arboretum in County Wexford
Dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy, whose great-grandfather, Patrick, was born in the nearby village of Dunganstown, this arboretum near New Ross, County Wexford, contains a plant collection of presidential proportions.
It covers a massive 252 hectares on the summit and southern slopes of Slieve Coillte and contains 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all temperate regions of the world. There are 200 forest plots grouped by continent. Of special note is an ericaceous garden with 500 different rhododendrons and many varieties of azalea and heather, dwarf conifers and climbing plants.
The lake is perhaps the most picturesque part of the arboretum and is a haven for waterfowl. There are amazing panoramic views from the summit of the hill, 271 metres above sea level. A visitor centre houses engaging exhibitions on JFK and on the Arboretum itself.
The Kinsale 911 Garden of Remembrance
The Kinsale Garden of Remembrance was established by a Kinsale lady, Kathleen Cait Murphy who worked as a nurse for over 30 years in New York City. During that time she came to admire the work of the fireman and was shocked at the deaths of 343 of their number who died in 9/11. As a result she decided to provide a memorial in Ireland, on her land at Ringfinnan, Kinsale, with a tree for each of the firemen who died as well as one for their chaplain Father Michael Judge who was a personal friend of hers. Since the garden was planted many relatives and friends of the dead have come to visit and leave prayers, photographs and flowers there.
The Town of Ballina, County Mayo - Ancestral home of President Biden
When Edward Blewitt (1795-1872) and his family left Ballina, Co Mayo 170 years ago during the Great Famine, their only thoughts were on survival and making a new life in America. The Blewitts were part of more than a million or so Irish men and women who undertake the voyage of emigration during the Famine period.
But Blewitt was no ordinary Famine emigrant. During the previous five years in which a million or so of their countrymen and women had died, he had contributed to the survival of thousands of people in the Ballina area by overseeing work on the public relief schemes. Though beneficial, this work was quickly lost to social memory. On June 22nd 2016, thousands of people lined the streets of Ballina to welcome Edward Blewitt's great-great-great grandson, Joe Biden, back to his ancestral home.
Leinster House - Inspiration for the White House & James Hoban
James Hoban from Callan in County Kilkenny won a national US competition to be the architect who would design the president's mansion, the White House, in Washington DC.
As a boy, Hoban trained as a carpenter and wheelwright and from those beginnings gradually acquired the skills that enabled him to win that competition and design one of the most famous buildings in the world. Of course, seeing as the home of the President of the United States is based on Leinster House, the home of the Irish Parliament in Dublin, it seems obvious that it was an Irishman behind it.
Muhammad Ali Statue in Ennis County Clare
To mark the death of their most famous of sons, the small town of Ennis in County Clare erected a memorial to the all time great - Muhammad Ali. Ali’s ancestor Abe Grady emigrated from Ennis in County Clare to the United States in the 1860s. He eventually settled in Kentucky, where he married an African-American woman. Their son also married an African-American and one of the daughters of that union was Ali’s mother, named Odessa Lee Grady. She married Cassius Clay, senior, and they settled in Louisville, where their son was initially given his father’s name on his birth in 1942.
Thomas Francis Meagher Statue in Waterford
Thomas Francis Meagher was an Irish nationalist, rebel and leader of the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848. After being convicted of sedition, he was first sentenced to death, but received transportation for life to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) in Australia.
In 1852, Meagher escaped and made his way to the United States, where he settled in New York City. He studied law, worked as a journalist, and traveled to present lectures on the Irish cause. At the beginning of the American Civil War, Meagher joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of brigadier general. He was most notable for recruiting and leading the Irish Brigade, and encouraging support among Irish immigrants for the Union.
Following the Civil War, Meagher was appointed Montana's Territorial Secretary of State by President Andrew Johnson, and served as acting territorial governor. In 1867, Meagher drowned in the Missouri River after falling from a steamboat at Fort Benton.
Beach Hill Country House in County Derry, Northern Ireland
During World War II Beech Hill was home to over 750 US Marines when it became the European basecamp for the US Navy. You can still find two of the original Quonset huts, where the Marines slept, onsite today. They even created a museum in the hotel to celebrate the US Navy's time in Derry/Londonderry, and if you want to hear more why not book in a walking tour of the 32 acre estate during your visit.