November 30, 2008

The Dolans of Tyneside - an Irish-Northumbrian Diaspora

Photo: Clara Vale School c1900, where a generation of Dolans were educated. Image is courtesy of iSee Gateshead collection who own copyright.

When Clara Vale colliery on Tyneside opened in the late 1880s, the news spread to Cumberland that there was guaranteed work with good wages, and new modern houses for those willing to go down into the rich seams of black gold, and bring it up for the rapidly expanding heavy industry on Tyneside. It was a case of "the woorks dorty but the muney's clean".

From the pit owners' point of view, there would not have been enough local "Geordie" labour, so they would have welcomed "the Irish" who turned up for work. It would be interesting to know how the Geordies welcomed the Micks!

Many Irish folk left their homeland for Cumberland looking for work on farms where they married local lasses and started large Catholic families. But the lure of big money in the coalmines saw them moving west to Clara Vale on the river Tyne, which was just inside the county Durham border.

The Dolans were one of these families, and this knol, which has evolved over the last 40 years, is their story as they spread to Canada, Australia and New Zealand over the next 3 generations. Three of the same generation of descendants are pictured in the photo below - meeting recently in furthest flung New Zealand.

Second cousins Pat Richardson (Canadian branch), Clive Dalton (UK branch) and Martha Tebbs (nee Graham of the NZ branch) all great grand children of John Dolan and Martha Feron

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