NHA University
A Semester During Your Sequester
"Frederick Douglass in Ireland: 'The Black O’Connell'”
with Dr. Christine Kinealy
"Belfast: Peace Now What?"
with John Stanton
"Irish Immigration and the Creation of 'A Greater Ireland'"
with Dr. Catherine Shannon
Were Robert and Julia Mooney the first Irish
people to settle on Nantucket?
By Frances Karttunen

Women on Nantucket voted for the first time in No. When the ship British Queen bound for New York from Dublin with 246 Irish passengers (5 cabin passengers, 66 in the “second cabin,” and 175 in steerage) went aground off Muskeget Island in December 1851, there were already close to 150 Irish people residing on Nantucket. Most of them had come in flight from the Potato Famine that had begun in 1845, but there had been Irish-born residents of Nantucket much earlier.

Eleanor Boyle was accused of selling rum without a license back in 1743. In 1747, Henry Fitzgerald married a Nantucket wife, and their descendants carried on through many generations on the island. The Quinns were operating an inn and a laundry in Newtown in 1763 when the “Indian Sickness” struck. It was said that Molly Quinn was the only non-Wampanoag to contract the disease. She recovered and later denied that she had ever been sick, but Nantucketers were quick to blame the Irish, claiming that the epidemic had originated from an Irish “plague ship” in close proximity to Nantucket or to clothes sent from a ship to Molly Quinn’s laundry.

Photo : GPN815, circa 1880 – Portrait of Robert Mooney.
Artifact of the Day
Cow Bell from the Mooney Farm,
Polpis Road
Ca. 1920
Rought iron
Gift of Robert Mooney

One way to find a cow in a Nantucket fog was to listen for the clanging of the bell worn around its neck as it grazed or wandered through the meadows. This wrought-iron cow bell came from the Mooney family farm established in Polpis by Irish immigrants Robert and Julia Mooney, who arrived on the island after being rescued from the wreck of the British Queen in 1851. Learn more about this shipwreck at Egan Maritime Institute
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