Vincent holding Shap, Peter & Jack Brogan

Vincent holding Shap, Peter & Jack Brogan



Vincent M Brogan M.A.G.I.

My grandmother Mary McCullagh died in 1972, and my grandfather in 1960. She was known locally as Minnie Watt, the Watt nickname distinguishing her family from the many other McCullagh families in that part of Co. Tyrone. I had been able to find out lots about both sides of our family history from her. Unfortunately, she had no family photographs to share, apart from her wedding photo, where, as a girl of 16, describing herself as “full age”, she had married my 26 year old grandfather John Brogan in 1910.

In 1978 I travelled to New York and met up with my father’s eldest brother Anthony, who had emigrated, aged 19, from Derry on 9th March 1930, arriving in the US nine days later. St Patrick’s Day was spent at sea. By all accounts Anthony didn’t want to leave Ireland; I’m told he was a fine ploughman but the family farm was too small to support him and seven siblings. He never talked about his motivations to his two children. With three younger brothers it would be many years before he could have a living on the farm and any dollars he could send home would be needed.

Ancestry provided many details of Anthony’s life in the US. He had an Uncle Peter Brogan in New York who was listed as his contact and supplied the forwarding address on the ship’s manifest. Peter had left Ireland before Anthony was born and so was unknown to him. In April 1930, one month after his arrival, Anthony is recorded in the US census living with his mother’s sister and her husband John Joseph Carton. This was also the man who was a witness to his application for Citizenship, which he applied for in June 1930. The second witness was an Andrew Smith, born in County Cavan. Who was he? Anthony went on to marry Susan Smith from County Cavan whose father was Andrew from County Cavan. Is that how they met?

When Anthony emigrated he left behind his beloved dog, “Shap”. Hence, in the photograph, my father, Vincent, is holding up “Shap” so that Anthony can see that his dog was well. With him are his two other brothers Jack and Peter. Antony had kept this small print along with many other photographs which had been sent to him in the years following his emigration. He gladly gave me copies of the photos and – given that any negatives at home had long since been lost and these were probably the only ones that survived – I was very happy indeed to receive them.