Time Capsule Tuesdays: Irish Passport

Time Capsule
Wren TCT


We love helping you digitize your family memories and rediscover moments past, which is why we’re sharing some of our favorites, so welcome to Time Capsule Tuesdays!

Who is in the photo? 

This photo is from an Irish Free State passport dated May 2, 1926. It is for a widow named Jennie and her children, though only the page with the children's pictures survives. 

What is the story behind the photo?

In 1902, Jennie and her four sisters had come to the United States to find work, like many young Irish immigrants at the turn of the 20th Century. After five years, she went home to Ireland and married the local lighthouse keeper. Theirs was a happy marriage, with seven children, but in 1925 he was suddenly taken ill, and he died. His widow decided to return to America with her children, who ranged in age from six to fifteen. In 1926 she sold all her household goods, applied for Irish passports, and purchased tickets for the transatlantic trip. 

To enter the US as immigrants, the family had to pass medical exams. Unfortunately, the boy pictured on the left in the bottom row was somewhat sickly. At the point of embarkation, he suffered a seizure and was refused passage. His name was crossed off the ship manifest and his visa crossed out. Just nine years old at the time, he was placed in a home for disabled children. On May 14, 1926, Jennie and her six other children sailed out of Queenstown (Cobh) on a steamship called the Republic, bound for New York.

US Immigration agents told Jennie that she had to become a US citizen before she could bring her son to America. The citizenship process typically took six years; and even though Jennie made her Declaration of Intent as soon as she arrived, the boy died a few years later, before she could return to Ireland to collect him. This passport photo is one of the few images we have of him.

Where and when was it taken?

The seven photos were taken in May 1926 in County Cork, Ireland, most likely at an official passport office.

Scanned in Philadelphia by PhotoLounge.

Everyone has their own box of memories, and we’re here to help you rediscover some of these special moments. Stop by the store or email Hannah, our Head of Digitizing (hannah@myphotolounge.com), to get started!

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