10. Bridget Walsh Murray

It’s National Women’s Month AND it’s Saint Patrick’s Day. So, I have decided to write about one of my many female ancestor’s from Ireland for this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge.

Bridget is actually a very distant relative for me: my 3rd cousin 3 times removed. But I thought her story was the most interesting.

Bridget was born around 1821 in County  Galway, Ireland. She was the daughter of Michael Walsh and Mary Caveney. In 1840, she married Peter Murray of County Sligo. Peter and Bridget lived on a farm and had 5 children, including sons Anthony Joseph and Michael.

In 1850 Peter left his family and sailed to America to establish a new home and life for his family. He settled in Dunmore, Pennsylvania and began working for the Pennsylvania Coal Company. He sent his earnings to Bridget, back in Ireland, so she could save up so she and their children could join him.

In 1853, Bridget and her young children were ready to sail to America. They boarded the ship, “Western World” in Liverpool and endured the six week trip across the Atlantic to their new home with 300 other passengers.

However, on the morning of October 26th, the “Western World” sailed into thick fog as it was nearing its final destination in New York. The ship ran aground outside of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and was nearly torn apart. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been for the young Bridget and her children. For three days, she had to be strong and reassuring for her children as they and the rest of the passengers remained on board until another ship could come rescue them. Finally, they taken on rowboats to that other ship, and then taken safely to New York. No lives were lost.

Bridget lived in Dunmore until her death in 1892. She was blessed to have been able to see two of her sons, Anthony and Michael, start their own coal company in Dunmore and become successful businessmen. No doubt, her strength from that harrowing ship voyage, was a contributing factor in their success.


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