Author Archives | Damian Shiels

Forgotten Irish Booklaunch, Hodges Figgis, 26th January

I am delighted to announce that the official Irish launch of The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America will take place in Ireland’s oldest bookshop, Hodges Figgis of Dublin, on Thursday next 26th January at 6pm. The publication will be officially launched by Dr. Myles Dungan of the RTE History Show, who has himself […]

Continue Reading
Seamus Condon with the handwritten and handillustrated memoirs of his grandfather, Andrew J. Byrne, 65th New York Infantry

The Distant Past? Ireland’s American Civil War Grandchildren

I have had the good fortune to deliver dozens of lectures around Ireland discussing local connections to the American Civil War. Wherever I am, I always highlight two factors; the reality that for many Irish counties, the American Civil War saw more locals in military uniform than any other conflict in their history, and the […]

Continue Reading
An African-American soldier photographed with his wife and daughters (Library of Congress)

North Carolina Slave, Union Widow, Liberian Emigrant: The Journey of Nancy Askie

My interest in the remarkable information contained within the widows and dependent pension files extends well beyond just those claims associated with Irish-Americans. The files are of major importance for the study of all immigrant groups, as well as native-born Americans. However, there is one category of pensioners for which the files are undeniably more […]

Continue Reading
Irish Púca (Celtic Mythpod)

Fairies, Púca & New Year’s Eve: An 1860s Irish Folktale for Irish-Americans

Tales of mythological creatures like fairies and púca remained popular in Ireland well into the 20th century. Many 19th century Irish emigrants carried a strong tradition of these stories with them to the United States. Traditional storytellers, the seanchaidhthe, kept these legends alive in the community, and many Irish-Americans remained eager to hear them even after their arrival in their […]

Continue Reading
henry_livermore_abbott_in_uniform

Communicating Death & Creating Memory on Fredericksburg’s Streets

I have recently had a conference paper accepted on the topic of letters communicating bereavement to those on the Home Front. Since I began my work on the widow’s and dependent pension files, I have become particularly interested in these types of document, and in exploring the multitude of questions we can ask of them. How was […]

Continue Reading
The Rawding Family homestead in Nebraska, 1886 (Library of Congress)

Hard Graft & Grasshoppers: Irish Homesteaders in 1870s Nebraska

The middle of the 19th century saw substantial numbers of Irish emigrants journeying west in search of land and livelihoods. One of their destinations was the Nebraska Territory, which was organized in 1854. Newspapers like the New York Irish-American Weekly kept their readers in the east informed of events there from the earliest days of […]

Continue Reading
9th Massachusetts Gettysburg Combined

Manipulating Memory: The Story of the 9th Massachusetts Monument at Gettysburg

Gettysburg’s Big Round Top is home to one of the lesser known monuments on the battlefield. It marks the position held by the Irish 9th Massachusetts Infantry from the late evening of 2nd July 1863. The regiment had a proud service history during the American Civil War, but through no fault of their own, their […]

Continue Reading

The Forgotten Irish: Early Reviews

The Forgotten Irish will be officially launched in Dublin in January 2017, with the book becoming available in the United States later in the year. I would like to thank everyone for the initial feedback it has received. Claire Santry of the excellent Irish Genealogy News has written an extremely kind review of the book […]

Continue Reading
Excelsior Brigade Memorial, Gettysburg (Damian Shiels)

Time to Move Beyond the Irish Brigade? The Problems with Studying Ethnic Irish Units– A Case Study of the New York Irish at Gettysburg

When we think and examine the Irish of the American Civil War, we often consider first and foremost ethnic units; formations such as the Irish Brigade, Corcoran’s Legion or regimental level contingents such as the 9th Massachusetts and 69th Pennsylvania. Such units have undeniably been the focus of attention for both scholars and enthusiasts (this […]

Continue Reading
The monument to the 65th New York at Culp's Hill, Gettysburg, which I took the opportunity to visit on my recent trip. Both John Clark and John O'Brien died as a result of artillery bombardment not far from this spot (Damian Shiels)

“Mother many a good man wint acrost the river but never come back, it was murder”: An Irishman at Fredericksburg & Gettysburg

I am currently working through the New York unit casualties at Gettysburg to draw together all those of Irish-birth or Irish ethnicity who lost their lives as a result of that engagement. Four men of the 65th New York Infantry (1st United States Chausseurs) died as a result of the fighting that July– almost certainly […]

Continue Reading