Tipp Mid West Radio’s Tom Hurley Reports:
For centuries the Irish have emigrated all over the world and named many of the places where they settled after towns and districts remembered from back home. Sizeable contingents of men and women and their families from Irish counties would often flock to a particular area with the result that generations later, many of their descendants would claim to feel a deep connection and identification with their once ancestral homeland, even though most may never have visited there themselves.
It’s a fascinating and often under researched topic, but one which is to be the subject of a forthcoming two-part documentary due to be aired shortly on Tipp Mid West Radio, when the connections between one such place in America and the Premier County (Co. Tipperary) are, possibly for the first time, openly investigated.
Tipperary Hill, Syracuse, New York
Tipperary Hill is a district in the city of Syracuse, in Onondaga County in the State of New York. It’s located roughly 300 miles inland from both New York City and Boston. Simply put, Tipperary Hill is purported to have got its name because of the sheer amount of immigrants who had settled there by the year 1860, which came not just from Ireland, but from our own county of Tipperary.
Not surprisingly the majority of these immigrants arrived during the Famine, but the programme can now also reveal that numbers also made this journey from Co. Tipperary earlier; during the Revolutionary War of the late 1700’s, and from 1817 onwards many were attracted to find work on the construction of the 363 miles (584 km) long Erie Canal, begun in 1817 and opened on October 26th, 1825.
Today, Tipperary Hill is a thriving community with many of its residents extremely conscious and proud of their districts links to those who arrived from the Premier County. A large number of their descendants have also traced their ancestry back to particular towns and areas, with Cashel, Thurles, Upperchurch and Ballyporeen amongst the locations pinpointed by interviewees to the programme.
In addition to investigating with American contributors what drew these early settlers from Co. Tipperary to the Syracuse area and how they fared when they got there, historians Des Marnane from Tipperary Town and Seamus King in Cashel offer an insight into the kind of place Co. Tipperary was to live, during the first half of the 19th century when the bulk of the emigration was taking place. Des Marnane, well-known for his extensive research into the Famine, also provides some heart wrenching eviction and emigration figures pertinent to the county for the period.
The documentary also sheds light on the discrimination faced by the early Irish in the city of Syracuse and examines the origins of the evil leprechauns and the famous ‘Upside Down Traffic Light’, positioned at the intersection of Milton Avenue and Tompkins Street at Tipperary Hill, which many in turn link to the ancient practice of ‘stone throwing’, associated with the Premier County.
Part one of this revealing documentary entitled ‘Conquering Tipperary Hill’ by Tom Hurley, is due to be aired on Tipp Mid West Radio on Monday morning next, November 7th at 11.30am. Part two of the programme will be broadcast at the same time on the following week. Both radio broadcasts can be heard live, outside the Co. Tipperary area, by going online on www.tippmidwestradio.com.
For lovers of Ireland, Co. Tipperary and Irish history, both radio documentaries make for essential listening.