One man who brilliantly illustrates the continuity of community across the border dividing County Monaghan and County Tyrone, is John Hughes, the first Archbishop of New York. His parents were born in Monaghan and he was born in Tyrone.
John’s father, Patrick, farmed a wretched patch of land in the townland of Cavan (Moutray), in the parish of Errigal Truagh, County Monaghan, and within a mile of the border with County Tyrone. He married Margaret McKenna from the townland of Brackagh, also in Errigal Truagh (Brackagh is within one mile of the farm that this author’s Duggan-McKenna family worked at Dernalosset). Not only was his mother a McKenna, but since his grandfather Hughes had also married a McKenna, John had two grandparents who were McKennas, a clan with a history going back perhaps a thousand years in the parish.
Shortly before the birth of John in 1797, Patrick heard of some better acreage available in the townland of Annaloughan, just over the border in the parish of Clogher, County Tyrone. Annaloghan was little more than four miles from his farm in Cavan (Moutry). Not long after Patrick moved his family to the new farm, John was born. And thus, County Tyrone claims John as a native of Tyrone. As he most certainly is that. Yet, while still a young man, his father secured a plot of land back in County Monaghan, in the townland of
Dernaved, less than four miles from Annaloughan.
Then, in the wake of the horrific famine of 1817, Patrick moved his family to America, where, appropriately, he named his new farm, “New Truagh.”
As Bishop of New York, John Hughes went on to found Fordham University, build St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and champion the rights of the Irish immigrant community in New York and beyond. In fact, this son of Truagh was perhaps the most important Irish Catholic leader in nineteenth-century America.
Finally, John does have a connection to Providence, Rhode Island. His godmother, Rose (née McCann) Collins left Truagh to join family and neighbors in Providence.
And when the new St. Patrick’s church was completed on Smith Hill in that city in 1841, the archbishop himself was there to consecrate the church, as well to see his godmother.
Thus, this giant among America’s Irish community is a lynchpin to my thesis that those Irish who came from counties Monaghan, Tyrone, Armagh and Fermanagh to Providence were not separate groups, but rather all part of a larger community.