Emerald Heritage | Irish Ports of Emigration
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Irish Ports of Emigration

Ireland is a country dominated by emigration. Everywhere you look, north, south, east and west, and every family you talk to will most likely have a history of immigration within.

This spreading of the Irish on a global scale has, over centuries and generations, created a diaspora and family that now rises into the multi-millions.

Countries as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the South Americas have all been touched and influenced by the Irish at one point or another. 

It’s something that we as a country can be fiercely proud of and some of the most interesting aspects of the entire process are the ports of immigration. These ports, in many cases, were the last glimpse of the Emerald Isle for so many people and as a result they’ve played an important part in the story of Ireland that we now know today. 


Between 1848 and 1950 approximately 6 million men, women and children left Ireland in search of a new life somewhere else.

This incredible number of people is made all the more interesting when you consider that 2.5 million of them, almost half of all emigrants, left via the port of Cobh in County Cork.

Cobh, once known as Queenstown, was most likely the last place many saw their own friends and family before departing and the view of St Colman’s Cathedral, looming large over the port, was probably a lasting memory of Ireland for many as they never returned. 


Due to its proximity, just a short journey across the Irish Sea, Liverpool has long been a port city dominated by a constant influx of the Irish.

Although this was always the case numbers inevitably spiked during and after the Great Famine of the 1840s. Since then and right through the early 20th century Liverpool became an important stop-off for many Irish men and women before they continued their journey to lands anew. 


Due to a lack of records for the nation as a whole before 1820 it’s hard to determine just how many people left Derry for another country but as the decades progressed thousands walked through her port gates towards a new future.

These emigrants were largely from County Derry and the neighbouring County Antrim and were generally headed for Philadelphia in the USA or Saint John, New Brunswick or Quebec further north in Canada. 


Many other ports, including Belfast and Galway, were used throughout the various waves of emigration from Ireland.

Incredibly, Irish emigration started as far back as the 1700s but due to a lack of records the focus tends to stay on more modern movements.

We can only imagine what was racing through the heads of our ancestors as they caught one last glimpse of the Emerald Isle but the diaspora that exists today, because of them, is a valuable and cherished part of Irish heritage and for that we’re thankful.

Do you know where your own ancestors left Ireland? Let us know


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