16th and 17th Century Emigration

Political map of Ireland circa 1500.
Blight55, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Not all Irish emigrated to USA. I’m a descendant of an Irish (believed of Mayo) to Europe, probably France in the 16th century.

From the north of France (region Artois at that time part of Flanders). In the Dunkirk parish registers, which date back to 1609, I find baptism records for Burke as well as for Walsh. After the flight of the wild geese (1690-1691) Irish names increase in the parish records as expected. From Dunkirk a lot of people migrated to Flanders/Belgium after the peace of Utrecht (1713).

Looking for the history of Mayo in the 16th century and what could trigger an emigration at that time I found Granaille (Grace O’Malley) and her marriages in Wikipedia. I had hoped to find more information in the local history of South Mayo.

Although much was destroyed in Ireland, aren’t there any records left of those early centuries? How people lived, was there trade with the continent? Did emigrants of those early days keep in contact with the homeland? If so, are there no traces or memories left?

In Ostend and Courtray, Belgium I found deathrecords of Irish in the 19th century, apparently visiting Belgium to trace back the descendants of early emigrants. (birthplace mentioned as Newport and Westport, Ireland)


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