The Irish Immigrants on the Isle of Man
One more tip of the derby hat goes out to all our Irish friends (and their descendants). In our research we may forget that our Irish ancestors could have stopped off in another country prior to eventually settling in the U.S. or elsewhere. The stop off place was often Scotland, England or Wales. However, there is another possibility – the Isle of Man (IOM). Residents of the IOM are known as Manx. If you do not find your ancestors in the UK, then it may be that they were actually on the IOM.
Ireland and the Isle of Man
The IOM lies in the middle of the north Irish Sea between Ireland, Scotland, and England. To this day, a ferry can be taken from Dublin or Belfast to Douglas, IOM. From Douglas, the routes continue to Liverpool. Peel, IOM lies only 26 miles from Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland. Due to its closeness, there has always been migration between Ireland and the IOM. Many of the historical Manx families have earlier Irish roots. In reverse, many Protestant Irish families have Manx roots, especially through settlement around Belfast in the 1600s. The Protestant merchant community in Dublin consisted of many Manx families, and they educated their children at Trinity College. After 1765, this connection between the IOM and Ireland declined.
The Irish of all religious denominations went to the IOM during the Potato Famine. Many would intermarry with the local Manx population. By 1851, some 5% of the population was born in Ireland.
There were common migrations out of the IOM in the nineteenth century. The most significant settlements were:
- Illinois: Fulton, Henry, Peoria, Warren Counties and in Chicago, Cook County
- Ohio: Cleveland in Cuyahoga County and Geauga County
- Utah: Ogden, Weber County and Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County (Latter-day Saint converts).
If your Irish ancestors are found among Manx people in North America, then you may need to look at the IOM records prior to the Irish records.
Isle of Man Records
IOM records are available at the Manx National Heritage Library and Archive Service. A large collection is also on microfilm at the Family History Library where they are being digitized and indexed in free searchable databases on FamilySearch. They are also available on Ancestry.com. The Isle of Man Family History Society is a major record repository and resource for finding help with genealogy questions.
Do not neglect the IOM as a potential place of settlement for your Irish ancestors, even if they moved on later. It is one more tool for discovering our ancestors!
by Dwight Radford, Professional Genealogist