Johanna Barry: The Story of an Emigrant Domestic in Ireland & America, 1836-1916

Irish in the American Civil War

On 17th September 1862, 27-year-old tailor Denis Barry from Dunmanway in West Co. Cork ventured into Antietam’s West Woods with the 19th Massachusetts Infantry. He never came out again. One of the legacies of Denis’s death is the extraordinary detail it has left us about the life of his wife Johanna, covering her time in both Ireland and the United States across more than half a century. His death also allows us to examine the close links that many Irish emigrants maintained with those who remained in Ireland, as well as their friends and former neighbours who had made new lives in America. It is yet another exemplar of why the widow’s and dependent pension files are surely the greatest source on the individual experiences of 19th century Irish people available anywhere in the world. (1)

Maids draw water from a well, 1864. Johanna spent the majority of her life in domestice service in Ireland and America (Oscar Gustave Rejlander) Maids draw water from a well, 1864. Johanna spent the majority of her life…

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