In the mid-1850’s my great-great-grandparents immigrated from County Roscommon in central Ireland. They, along with millions of others, were leaving Ireland as a result of the Great Famine. In America, we commonly refer to this as the Irish Potato Famine; therefore, my object is a potato. This represents the mass starvation that lead to the death of one million irishmen and women, and the mass exodus of one million others. In Irish history, the famine has such significance that the period of time before is referred to as “Pre-famine” and the time after is known as “Post-famine.”
My family settled in Massachusetts- Worcester, to be exact. My great-great grandfather started a construction business and employed primarily other Irish immigrants. He did well, and he and his family were able to live a reasonably comfortable life. After years in the United States, he ran and was elected to the Worcester City Council. My great-great-grandmother was a teacher, and because Worcester was such a heavily Irish area, she taught primarily the children of other Irish immigrants. She was lucky to have a teaching job at this time, and only managed to secure this position because she was one of few Irish immigrants at the time who came to the United States already speaking English.
– Michaela Finneran