NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - In the late 1800s, tens of thousand of young women left their families in Ireland and traveled by steam ships to New York City.
Director fo the Archives of the Archdiocese of New York Kate Feighery said “The hustle and bustle of 19th Century New York must have been overwhelming and terrifying.
So many Irish women were arriving, the Catholic Church responded by sending a Chaplin to meet them at Castle Garden which would later become Ellis Island.
The Chaplin took the women to a church in lower Manhattan and what became the Irish Mission at Watson House.
The Clergy there would give the women temporary shelter and food and help find them housing and jobs.
Feighery said the Catholic Church saw there was this need to help these women. They were arriving alone there was not great conditions. They were living in Tenement housing, a lot of times when they arrived they were taken advantage of.
Dr. Maureen Murphy is a former professor of Irish studies. She put together this collection and called it The Irish Mission at Watson House. The untold story of the home for Irish immigrant girls in Lower Manhattan.
Dr. Murphy said, “They are people who came to America and made and enormous contribution.”
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