On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island officially closed after admitting millions of immigrants from all around the world into the United States.

Cork teen Annie Moore was the first person to go through Ellis Island when it opened in 1892. Over the next 62 years, some 3.5 million Irish immigrants would be processed at the facitliy.

Today, with the issue of immigration in the US an endless hot topic, it is never a bad time to look back at the Irish people's own story of immigration to the "Land of the Free" and the first time many of our ancestors may have caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty and the New York skyline.

This short film from the Library of Congress, entitled "Arrival of Immigrants - Ellis Island," was filmed in 1906 on the island off of Manhattan, which many Irish people called "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears."

Whether any or all the immigrants in this video are Irish, I don't know, perhaps a ship had just arrived from Cork. Still, nonetheless, the Irish have a rich history of immigration to New York and a strong link with the famous immigration processing facility.

The footage shows arrivals carrying their life possessions in little suitcases, facing a new world full of uncertainties.

About halfway through, a little girl walks by, and I wonder what became of her. She must have looked at that long trip from Ireland as a great adventure and was probably glad it was now over.

I think I see her again in the second frame, waiting for someone.

The immigrants are clearly through Ellis Island, and the medical exam,  and have been reunited with their possessions, heading for Manhattan aboard the ferry.

They must be so happy to finally find their path open to a new life in America. 

Where did they all end up?

Is there someone there now related to one of these brave souls facing their new world?

I don't know, but it's always important to remember where 12 million immigrants came from —through Ellis Island.

You can watch "Arrival of immigrants, Ellis Island," filmed in 1906, here:

Did anyone in your family come to the US through Ellis Island? Let us know in the comments, below

* Originally published in May 2011. Updated in November 2023.