Dr Maxine Keoghan received her PhD in history from the National University of Ireland, Galway, in 2016 where she studied Irish emigration from the far west of Connemara to rural Minnesota.
The waves of emigration from the late seventeenth century to the twentieth century indicated the various paths taken by Irish immigrants, from those with capital to invest in a new and exciting world to those who were impoverished and felt they had been forced out of Ireland. Irish Americans account for more than 30 million of the U.S. population. As many as 4.5 million Irish arrived in America between 1820 and 1930.
Some of the earliest people to emigrate to North America originated from the South East of Ireland and became part of the Newfoundland fishing industry. The remarkable feature of ‘the most Irish people outside of Ireland’ is that many retain their Irish cultural identity despite the fact they were among the first Irish people to emigrate over two hundred years ago. Maxine was awarded the Craig Dobbin Scholarship by the Ireland Canada University Foundation in 2017 and traveled to Newfoundland tracing the heritage of the people of the south east.
Maxine traces her history to eighteenth century fishermen and coastal rescue workers of Tramore in County Waterford. As Mayor of Tramore, Maxine undertook the Sea Horse bi-centenary Commemoration which remembered the 363 men, women and children who perished returning to Ireland from the Napoleonic Wars in 1816. The Cairn built in their memory was originally envisioned by Maxine and stands as a memorial to all those who died. The book, ‘The Shipwrecked Soldiers’ Cairn – The Tragedy of the Sea Horse in Tramore Bay, 1816’ was contributed to and edited by Maxine. Other publications by Maxine include, ‘Tramore of our Times’ and ‘Waterford’s War of Independence, the Pickardstown Ambush’.
As a social and cultural historian Maxine’s interests extend from the shipping industries of Waterford to the Irish that traveled all over the world. History is a series of stories and it is fascinating to recognise the cultural identity of those who continue to live on this island with those who have lived in other lands for generations. Folklore, music, words, and language, much is retained over time, and it is remarkable how we continue to share these interests.