The railway carpenter (Ballinamore, Ireland)

E.M., born in 1880, was a fellow living in rural Leitrim county, Ireland. His father was a farmer in one of the townships of Ballinamore, as were all his brothers and sisters. E.M.’s birth record lists him as being born in the Poor Law Union area of Bawnboy, yet his census records all list him as being born in Leitrim county. A little research shows that the Bawnboy workhouse located in Cavan county did serve the population of Ballinamore. More on the workhouse will be posted later, as this mystery is still being investigated and I know very little about workhouses in general; it unusual to me that E.M. is always listed on the census records as a carpenter while the rest of his family are recorded as farmers. He was the youngest son of this family.

In 1901, E.M. was living in Leitrim county, working as a carpenter. By 1909 he had married my great-grandmother. In 1911 he was a father, and working as a railway carpenter. Leitrim county did have a railway at that time, the Cavan and Leitrim railway. He was most certainly working at the station in Ballinamore where the locomotive depot and works was located. There are some really fascinating photos of this station here.

But what happened next? E.M. and his family emigrated to America in 1925. What happened after 1911? So far, only births and deaths tell the story, however research into his life is still in progress. We know that his father whom he resided with died at age 75 in 1916. He had three more children before moving to America: in the years 1915, 1918, and 1921. Did he go to war at age 34? Great Britan allowed all men from ages 18-41 to enlist, so it is entirely possible. The timing of his children make it seem that he made a child before he left and made one after he came back. But did he? Basic searches into the Irish military records do not support this idea. E.M. likely stayed home and worked as a carpenter and took care of his family. I would like to take a trip to Ireland to investigate further.

What caused the leap to emigration in 1925? According to this site, there was quite a bit of unhappiness and unrest on the job around that time. The Cavan and Leitrim railway was absorbed by a larger railway in 1925, closing the Ballinamore workshops – E.M. no longer had a local job. In April of 1925, he and his family were on a ship heading for New York.


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