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Wexford-Savannah Axis


A Unique Migration and Integration Story

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Wexford-Savannah Axis


A Unique Migration and Integration Story

 

Celebrating and Understanding Irish Heritage in the American South

Boasting the second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade on the North American continent, Savannah, Georgia, is the most Irish city in the American South. The Wexford-Savannah Axis research project is helping the people of Savannah—plus the city's 14 million annual visitors—to better understand not just that Savannah is Irish, but also how it's Irish. Welcome to a journey into the past, with huge promise for the future. 

 
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Connecting Two Countries, Two Regions


The Wexford-Savannah Axis

Connecting Two Countries, Two Regions


The Wexford-Savannah Axis

Transnational migration is the human epic of our age.  In 2015, the United Nations classified 244 million people as transnational migrants.  As citizens of planet earth, we have a moral obligation to comprehend this major, often daunting phenomenon.  A key tool for doing so is examining—objectively and thoroughly—past episodes of migration and its necessary complement: integration.

Due to a catastrophic potato famine (1845-49) and other factors, Ireland produced the largest global migration event of the nineteenth century.  Within that exodus, a compelling, important story is the displacement of people from Wexford—Ireland’s most southeastern county—to Savannah, Georgia, during the 1850s. 

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Until recently, the Wexford-Savannah story was hidden in plain sight. However, new research is restoring to us the significance of how, by 1861, 14% of Savannah’s population (a quarter of its white population) was Irish-born—and, furthermore, was disproportionately of Wexford origin.

Although complex, this phenomenon pushes against certain received notions of Irish migration, such as "No Irish Need Apply." In its issue of Friday 6 December 1850, the Savannah Morning News printed a favorable editorial comment in response to the arrival in Savannah of 125 steerage passengers. They'd sailed directly from Wexford town on the barque Brothers, owned by R. M. & R. Allen of that port. 

Savannah Daily Morning News (6 December 1850) p. 2

Savannah Daily Morning News (6 December 1850) p. 2

Welcome to the Wexford-Savannah Axis, a web experience about a shared past with an exciting economic and cultural future.  The project constitutes a public-service, tourism, and educational endeavor that’s helping Savannah to know not just that it’s Irish, but also how it’s Irish. 

On March 29, 1851, the Wexford Independent newspaper published a letter from a young man named McLaughlin, who’d emigrated to Savannah from Wexford Town on the Allen company’s vessel Menapia. Highlighting his adopted domicile as welcoming and economically thriving, he declared, “This is the finest city I was ever in.”  

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Savannah performances by Wexford’s Carrigbyrne Pike Choir in 2010 and 2012 underscored the vibrancy of our mutual bond. Now, the Wexford-Savannah Axis research project is further enhancing public understanding of the Wexford legacy in Savannah. As the great-grandson of Wexford immigrants, I commend the researchers’ vision and commitment.
— Dr. Francis P. Rossiter, Jr., President, Hibernian Society of Savannah (1998-99); Grand Marshal, St. Patrick’s Day Parade (2008)

Follow the links above to explore more about the Wexford-Savannah Axis.  Contact us if you would like to contribute to the program. 

 

Film Overview of the Wexford-Savannah Axis