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I recently received this nostalgic story and powerful photograph by email from

Sheila MacAvoy Block over in the USA whose ancestors came from the

Glencairn / Lismore  area  of  County Waterford


Shelia’s letter gives us some idea of the difficult struggle

for survival it must  have been for her long gone relatives

and countless others who were forced toemigrate during the

1840s and 50s  in order to survive the Great Famine. 

Dear Pat,

Here's a treasure of a photo, which we were only recently able to see
through the miracle of technology. The image was on a glass negative
covered in dust and retrieved from a shoebox in my brother's basement.

The picture was taken about 1900 by my grandfather, Thomas MacAvoy, an
amateur photographer. The image is of Mary English Coleman

and her daughter, Sister Elizabeth, a Sister of St. Joseph.


Mary English left her home in Glencairn, County Waterford,

at the end of the famine in 1851 at the age of 19.

She came to America alone and was met by her oldersister,

Ellen, who lived at  30 Broadway in Lower Manhattan.


Their parents, Michael English, then aged about 60, and his wife

Mary Sullivan English, aged 53, left Ireland in 1853 aboard the
ship "Marmion." Mary Sullivan English did not complete the trip to
re-join her 8 children all now in New York. She died of cholera on the
voyage and was buried at sea.

Young Mary English married John Coleman in New York and had 8 children
also, seven of them still living when this picture was taken in the back
garden of her grandson Thomas' home in Brooklyn.


She was widowed at age 48 when husband John

was killed in an accident on thewaterfront. In the photo,

and in all other pictures of her, she wore black in his memory.

The research into this family has been brought to life by

web pages and newspaper

columns such as yours and by the good help of Heritage Centres,

libraries and archives all around Waterford and

the Blackwater Valley.


 I thought I would like share with your readers, this face

of one beautiful womanwho lived in Glencairn, 

Co.Waterford so long ago,


Best wishes,

Sheila MacAvoy Block


You can now

through Pay-Pal.

Towards the costs of running this web-site by credit card or by post to

Pat Kiely,Ballyratfter Cottage, Lismore, Co.Waterford, Ireland. (no zip code required)

NOW PLAYING: Time to say Goodbye! .............A.Bocelli

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