Irish Remittances to Friends in Ireland - 1880

In New York City, Irish Depositors of the Emigrant Savings Bank Withdrawing Money to Send to Their Suffering Relatives in the Old Country.

In New York City, Irish Depositors of the Emigrant Savings Bank Withdrawing Money to Send to Their Suffering Relatives in the Old Country. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 13 March 1880. GGA Image ID # 14823a471b

Besides the collection, which are going on In all parts of the country at the call of humanity—speaking through the press under the lead of the New York Herald, and through the pulpits In every State—there is another silent stream of money steadily flowing from this country to Ireland.

It Is a perennial stream, but at present It has swollen like a river when the snows of Winter dissolve on the mountain side under the solar heats of Spring.

No people are more devoted to their own than the Irish. As prosperity came to the immigrant here, his or her first thought was for those at home. The money that could be saved was sent to bring out sister or brother, and to give comfort to the declining years of parents whose Infirmities unfitted them for a further struggle with the ills which beset the poor man In Ireland.

Knaves and thieves saw in this trait of the Irish a field for speculation. Private concerns advertised and sold drafts on Ireland which the unwary bought only to have them returned as worth lees, and to learn that the mother whose wants It was to meet had in fact gone to the poorhouse or perished of starvation.

Strong men, who had worked overtime for months to gather what they thus Invested, staggered, and fell as though struck by lightning when the terrible truth came.

The Irish Emigrant Society In New York, formed to protect the immigrant who lands here little versed In the trickeries that surround him, made it one of Its first tasks to open accounts with the Bank of Ireland and keep a deposit there against which they could draw bills that would be cashed without delay In every pariah of the Island.

For years, this safe channel has borne to Ireland the millions of dollars sent over by those whose Industry and self-denial gave them the means.

The Society rolls up no wealth. All that Is made by the sale of the drafts Is divided annually among charitable institutions laboring for the good of the immigrants or their children.

The profit coming from immigrants goes back to them as a class. At the commencement of the present year the profits of 1879 were sent to the relief of the poor In Ireland through the President, James Lynch, Esq.

Just before steamer day the Emigrant Sayings Bank, In whose rooms the Society transacts Its business, Is crowded with those who bring money or draw It from their savings deposited there in order to buy bills on Ireland. Many, of course, are small —from one pound upwards.

The old man and old woman, who show In form and clothing that they have fought a hard battle for life, come to send some of their dearly-bought means to those whom hunger stares in the face.

The younger, who can still feel reliance on the future which their energy and Industry promise, can do more. The aged parent at home must be made comfortable or be brought over.

With some letters of means to reach a port and take a passage to this country, where loving hands and hearts are waiting to receive the fugitive from the land smitten by famine.

The great contributor is the Irish servant-girl in America, who, early and late, gives freely of the fruit of her toll to her suffering kindred. The amount of money transmitted by this one agency alone—and It is not the only one of Its kind—may be Judged by the fact that since Its Institution.

In 1843 it has remitted thirty millions of dollars to Ireland. The remittance now is from fifty to one hundred percent above the usual average this season.

During the last four months nearly thirteen thousand drafts were sold, amounting to about fifty thousand pounds sterling—a quarter of a million of dollars—carrying relief to every county and every parish In Ireland.

The largest amounts went to Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Cavan, Galway, Derry, Silgo, Mayo and Fermanagh.

The exact figures are:

  • November 1879: 1,928 Drafts £7,077:17:0 (£:s:d)
  • December 1879: 5,177 Drafts £14,777:16:8
  • January 1880: 2,438 Drafts £18,128:2:5
  • February 1880: 8,800 Drafts £18,637:12:3

"Irish Remittances to Friends in Ireland" in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, New York: Frank Leslie's Publishing House, Vol. L, No. 1275, 13 March 1880, p. 27, 29.

Return to Top of Page