Apr 8, 2011

More Irish in the West

In my last post I linked you to a map that showed where the Irish are concentrated in the US. I was surprised by Montana, but there is another surprise as well: Nevada.

Irish Miners at the Comstock in Nevada
The Irish went to Nevada the same reason they went to Montana and other parts west. The best I could tell by the map is that there is a high percentage of Irish ethnicity near Hawthorne. Parts of Nevada were mined, just like California, and I suppose lots of Irish came out to find their pot of gold. According to the web site linked above, 42% of the population of the Comstock Mining District were Irish. This mining district is near Carson City, over a hundred difficult miles north of Hawthorne. Perhaps future generations moved southward. I really don't know the reason why that particular part of Nevada is still so Irish. Do you?

It's also interesting to note from that web site that the immigrants who came to mine were from County Cork, the only county in Ireland in the 19th century with mines. Mining has a long history in Ireland, back to 2,000 BC or so. There are other Irish counties with a mining past. County Wicklow, for instance, had a gold rush of its own in the late 18th century. According to this web site there was a mining depression when prices fell in the 1880's in Ireland.

Abandoned Copper Mine in Allihiles, Co. Cork
But major copper mining took place in Allihies in County Cork until the 1960's and apparently it was from this region that the Irish in Nevada originated.

I never knew! Did you?


  1. Nice post, Cindy. You should friend Montana Gael on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. She posts all about the Irish in Montana. I wasn't aware of the Irish in Nevada but I know a good bit about the copper miners on the Beara peninsula in west Cork. I remember reading about them in Hungry Hill by Daphne DeMaurier. I traveled up and down the region and traces of the old mines are still there. Many of the Beara miners originally came from the Cornwall region in England, as copper mining was big there. We'll be exploring this region in next month's Thin Places tour. We'll post some pics.

  2. Thanks for that info, Mindie. Looking forward to the pictures!

  3. I believe that mining on the Mizen Peninsula is why at least one Cork man went to mine in South Australia around the time of the Great Famine

  4. Hey Cindy, came across your website randomly, you might enjoy my article on Irish miners for The Boolean at http://publish.ucc.ie/boolean/2011/00/Noonan/31/en

  5. Thanks for sharing, Alan. I love reading immigrant letters.