Just seeing this now. We'd be delighted to be involved and to help in any way we can. Feel free to send us an email at annaghdown [at] irelandxo.com to discuss further.
Annaghdown IrelandXO Team
Hi there Annaghdown locals
Next August I am coming to Annaghdown to make a documentary on early settlers to southern New Zealand for Toitu Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin, where I work. The main focus of the documentary is the Scottish origin of the Otago settlement so most of our work will be in Scotland. But given the important role of Galway people, mainly from the Annaghdown area, as Otago's first substantial group of Irish Catholic immigrants, we want to include them in the story too. Our approach is to tell both sides of any particluar story - the New Zealand side - who came, where to, what did they do, and then the home side of the story - where did they come from, why did they leave etc.
You already have links on this site to work I have written about the Galway settlers in Otago and Southland which gives you some idea of what the New Zealand side of the story is. My thoughts for the Irish end of the story was to focus on the Great Famine as it played out in teh Annaghdown area, as all those New Zealand Galway pioneers of the 1850s and 1860s were famine survivors who had been children or adolescents during the terrible years. Though there may have been other more immediate reasons for them to emigrate, I consider the Famine as the shadow in the background. But we would welcome local input into that and any knowledge you can share about the context of Galway in the mid 1850s and early 1860s, the period we are focussing on.
I would also really appreciate your help in getting hold of a copy of An Gorta Mór: Famine Times in Annaghdown. Annaghdown Heritage Society, 1997. I can't find any copies for sale online but hope you can help with that. It seems like a source that would provide essential reading in preparation for our visit.
Our timetable is very tight so we will only be in Galway for a day, staying at Ballinrobe on 1 August 2020 and filming on that afternoon and the next morning. I hope that with this advance notice we might be able to set up some collaboration on the day. I'm happy to exchange further details on the families whose roots we are exploring once we establish a point for ongoing communication.
On a sidenote there will be a great gathering of Annaghdown descendents in Southland later this month as we gather to celebrate the 125th jubilee of the Rakahouka Catholic Church near Invercargill. The church was built on land gifted to the Bishop of Dunedin by my great great grandfather William Scully from Corrandulla. Its congregation was made up of many of the early Galway settlers that we are investigating so I will be throwing out the invitation to share further information on family origins there.
Hoping for a positive response,