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Clann Dispersal
he history of the McAuliffes is deep-rooted in Gaelic Ireland, but as a consequence of the Irish diaspora they are now scattered to far parts of the world. Many more McAuliffes are today found outside of Ireland than are still living there.
After the loss of their lands many of the McAuliffes were scattered far from Clanawley although many had settled in places not too far distant, in the counties of Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and in other parts of Cork. An event was to happen, however, that would deal a death blow to thousands of Irish and change the face of Irish families forever.
An Gorta Mor - The Famine
sketch search for potatoes sketch hungry family
Searching for unblighted potatoes in a stubble field 1849.
A mother (identified as Bridget
O'Donnell) and her hungry children.
In September 1845 the potato crop in Ireland was struck by a strange disease which caused many of the potatoes to go black and to rot. Between one-third and half of the potato crop was destroyed by the previously unknown disease, which became known as 'potato blight'. The potatoes were inedible and the effect of the disease caused hardship, though not actual starvation, in that year. "It is now known that the same potato blight struck in the USA in 1843 and 1844 and in Canada in 1844. It is thought that the disease travelled to Europe on trade ships and spread to England and finally to Ireland, striking the south-east first." (1).

Another outbreak of blight in 1846 resulted in the loss of almost the entire crop. In a population largely dependent on the potato, the result was catastrophic. Further serious crop failures followed in subsequent years up until 1849. Death from starvation became widespread and diseases such as cholera added to the misery and the death toll. The exact number of people who died is still widely debated but is believed to have been somewhere around 1,000,000, or 12% of the population. The long term effects of the famine were to involve even more people. In the years immediately following the famine an estimated 1,500,000 or more people are believed to have left Ireland, most for America. The exodus continued for many years beyond that.

Not much information is available at thiis time about the direct effects of the famine on the McAuliffes but the counties in which most of the McAuliffes lived at that time, Cork and Kerry, were badly hit by the famine so it is likely that the effect on the McAuliffes was considerable. Perhaps in the future someone will be able to undertake research on that. What we do know is that many McAuliffes emigrated in the years following the famine. Their names appear in passenger lists for ships sailing to America and to other lands such as Australia and New Zealand. Many others made the shorter journey to England and Scotland.

1. From "The Ireland Story" by Wesley Johnston.
McAuliffe Distribution Worldwide
As a rough guide to the proportionate distribution of the McAuliffes around the world I carried out in 1995 a study of telephone directory listings (1994 or 1995 editions) for the countries known to have  sizeable numbers of McAuliffes.  I stress that this is a rough guide, for it does not take into account possible differences in availability of telephone services, economic access to services, etc., which could distort any comparison. This study is now several years old but no comparative study has been done since then.

From the Irish telephone directories I found that the McAuliffes are found in all of the areas covered by Telecom Eireann. The largest concentration of listings was in County Cork (161 listings), many of these at addresses within, or not far from, the ancient homeland of Clanawley. The next largest listing (88)  was in the area which includes counties Kerry and Limerick. Because the borders of these counties once formed part of the boundaries of Clanawley many of these listings, too, were in places not far from the ancient homeland. While all other areas record some McAuliffe names, only Dublin showed a significant number, with 58 entries.

The country showing the largest number of McAuliffe telephone directory listings was Australia with 400. An analysis of the Australian figures showed that the McAuliffes were concentrated mainly in the larger urban areas, with Sydney having 80 entries, Melbourne 86, Perth 85, Brisbane 74 and Adelaide 41.

The United States recorded the next highest number with 340 entries. McAuliffes there were found in most parts of the country, with the highest concentrations in New York (100), Chicago (38), Boston (34), Seattle (30) and North Virginia (30).

McAuliffe names were also found in the directories for most parts of Britain, about 300 in all, with 45 being recorded in London.

In Canada the McAuliffes were also found in several centres, the largest concentration being in Toronto which had 30 listings. Canada had a relatively small number of listings, with an approximate total of 65.

The total number of directory listings for New Zealand was 63. Here, too, they were mostly grouped in the main centres with Auckland having 14 entries, Wellington 9, Christchurch 8 and Dunedin 10.

McAuliffes are known to be living in South America, including Chile, Argentina and Mexico. Mac Auliffe and Mac-Auliffe are the common spelling. Numbers are unknown but are believed to be significant.

McAuliffes are known to be in other countries also, most notably France and Spain.  Those who have been in those countries for some time, such as those who settled there after the exodus following the Treaty of Limerick, may now have different variations of the name.

Telephone directory listings for McAuliffe (including MacAuliffe, McAuliff, MacAmhlaoibh and other variations) were recorded, in numerical order, as follows:
Australia 400
United States 380
Ireland 330
United Kingdom 300
Canada 65
New Zealand 63
As I mentioned earlier, these figures are now several years old  and require updating. I am not sure, however, if telephone listings would be such a reliable guide. many more people now have cell phones that are not always listed and more people who have a landline connection choose not to have it publicly listed. I know that the figures on this page are now very out of date and a couple of people have sent me updated figures for their countries which I have not yet included here because without a more complete list it is not possible to make a comparison. If anyone would like to work on that I'd be happy to update the page. I've kept the figures from the 1995 study on here because, while total numbers have undoubtedly increased substantially, the figures may still be roughly indicative of proportionate distribution.
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"An event has happened upon which it is difficult to speak and impossible to be silent."
Inscription on famine cross at Clonfert Cemetery. Photo
Between 1786 and 1868 as many as 40,000 Irish men, women and children (some as young as eleven or twelve), were transported to the penal colony in Australia, often for trivial offences. Some were McAuliffes.
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This page last updated 14 May 2011

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