Saturday 30 October 2010

Hurley letters shed light on Irish emigrant experience

An extensive collection of letters from two West Cork brothers who emigrated to Nevada in the USA in the 19th century has been donated by their family to Cork City and County Archives.

The 122 letters were written by Michael and Denis Hurley over nearly 70 years from 1871 and were sent to their parents, siblings and nieces in Tawnies, Clonakilty and Timoleague. Their importance lies not just in the way that the story of their lives in America unfold over the years, but in their survival as a unique historical source for understanding the Irish emigrant experience in America, especially that of emigrants who continued westward after crossing the Atlantic.

Michael Hurley lived in Nevada, Lake Tahoe and Oregon before settling in San Francisco in 1881. His younger brother Denis lived and worked in Nevada (first for the Railway, then as a prison guard and, in his later years, as Bailiff of the US District Court), and was elected Mayor of Carson City.

The Hurley Family Emigrant Letters collection will be properly preserved by the Archives and made available for further research and public exhibition.

Source: Southern Star newspaper