Nolan Family - A Tragic Story of Separation

The story of Robert Nolan and his family is a particularly tragic one. He and his wife and their five children were inmates of the Carlow Union Workhouse in the 1880's. Mrs. Nolan's brother was resident in New York and had sent her one adult passage warrant. She wanted to join him there and also to bring her eldest daughter, who was just fourteen years old at the time. She requested assistance from the Carlow Board of Guardians. It was her ultimate intention to set up home in New York to provide for her husband, who was in delicate health and for her other four children.The Guardians sought guidance from the Local Government Board.

In August 1882, the Local Government Board wrote to the Board of Guardians in Carlow regarding the case of Mrs. Ann Nolan. They stated that they were not in agreement with the proposed arrangements. They did not approve of the separation of husband and wife and their children. They were of the opinion that the successful reunion of the entire family in America was unlikely. They recommended instead that Mrs. Nolan's brother should receive the whole family together. If Mrs Nolan's brother agreed to take the family and the Guardians were willing to assist their passage, the Local Government Board would approve the expenditure incurred.

Some months later in January 1883 it was resolved that Robert Nolan and his family be assisted to immigrate. His wife had already journeyed there. The Local Government Board contacted the Carlow Board of Guardians requesting particulars on the Nolan family who were about to emigrate.

Unfortunately Robert Nolan died in the Carlow Workhouse on the 10th of March 1883. It was then decided that the children be sent to their mother in New York, in the care of their eldest sister and that of a neighbour, Michael Walsh, who was travelling to New York with his wife and children at the same time.

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