Great-Grandmother Pocket Watch

Inside of pocket watch
Inside of pocket watch

My great-grandmother Annie Diegnan was born in Roscommon, Ireland in 1889. At the young age of 20, Annie immigrated to the United States to seek better opportunity. She traveled to Ellis Island alone by boat with one special item: a pocket watch gifted to her by her parents to accompany her on her journey. While the pocket watch’s primary purpose was to alert Annie of what time it was (as most watches are created to do), this watch’s meaning goes much deeper than that. This Irish-crafted watch served as a reminder of her upbringing in Roscommon, and it symbolized the new times of her life to come in America. 

Annie arrived at Ellis Island on April 29th, 1909, and eventually started her new life in the small town of Millis, Massachusetts. As many immigrants’ experiences were and continue to be, Annie’s new life of opportunity in the United States did not come easy. She suffered from immense financial hardship due to how difficult it was to find a job. Annie turned to this watch in times of struggle to remind herself that she came to the United States to advance the Diegnan name. Following Annie’s death in 1987, the watch was passed down to my grandmother Ellen Moran. As of 2018, the watch is in the hands of my aunt Kathryn Delaney. The meaning of this watch has not deteriorated with time like its ability to operate has. The watch may no longer work, but it continues to serve as a reminder of the sacrifices Annie made and the hardships she faced for our family and our futures.  

Place(s): Roscommon, Ireland, Ellis Island, Millis, Massachusetts
Year: 1939

– Dennis Cogan

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more