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One of the most valuable genealogical record sets about the famine and post-famine Irish in New York are those of the Emigrant Savings Bank. Established in 1850 by the Irish Emigrant Society, it was the bank of choice for many thousands of Irish people who lived in New York. What makes the records such a valuable resource is that the answers that people submitted for security questions were often the names of relatives, the year they came to the US, the ship they came on and the Irish county they were born in.

In all, over 1,400 individuals list Kilkenny as their place of birth, but only a minority give further details within county Kilkenny. Of those, one person, a Johanna Whelan lists her place of birth as Paulstown.[1] No surrounding townlands or civil parishes are listed in the records. All the information she gave is provided below. It gives a good example of the kind of information that is available if you find an ancestor in these records.

Test Book: Entry 453

Date: 22 May 1862

Name: Johanna Whelan (could not write)

Address:  40 W 23rd St

Occupation: Domestic

Born: 1828

Where Born: Paulstown, Kilkenny, Ireland

Came to US: 1857 on the Thornton

Other info: Is a widow of Michael Moloney, no children, also a brother in New York – John


[1] Ancestry.com. New York Emigrant Savings Bank, 1850-1883 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Emigrant Savings Bank. Emigrant Savings Bank Records. Call number *R-USLHG *ZI-815. Rolls 1-20. New York Public Library, New York, New York.

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