As part of the year-long Gathering in Ireland, the Kenmare Gangs of New York Festival will take place in Kenmare, Co. Kerry from August 30 until September 1. The event was launched at the Central Bar in New York on Friday night.
Irish Senator Mark Daly was on hand to present a certificate of Irish citizenship to Tony Award winning actor Brian Dennehy.
The Gangs of New York Festival centers on the Lansdowne estate and the assisted/forced emigration of between 4,000-5,000 people shortly after the Famine.
WS Trench was the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne's agent in Kenmare, and he devised the program to offer to forgive rent arrears and give £4 to every tenant who wanted to leave for New York and Quebec Canada.
Many of the Kenmare emigrants starving and destitute ended up living in the Five Points area of New York on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
One of the most famous people of this lineage was Congressman Big Tim Sullivan whose parents were Lansdowne tenants. He succeeded in naming a street in Manhattan, Kenmare Street, in honor of his mother.
The festival hopes to identify the living relatives of these Lansdowne Estate tenants who left and settled in New York and Quebec, and invite them home to find out about their heritage and tell the story of the time when their families left Kenmare. The festival will involve a number of special events.
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