Dr Regina Donlon

Irish emigration; Transnational History; Comparative History; Nineteenth-century Ireland; and Irish Social History


I am a migration historian, specialising in Irish migration during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My research utilises transnational and comparative research methodologies to examine Irish emigration and return migration through political, religious, economic, social, cultural and gendered lenses. I am also interested in Irish-American nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century and in nineteenth century Irish social history more generally.

My current research focused on return migration to Ireland during the revolutionary era, particularly those returnees who fought in the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War. This study is transnational in nature and uncovers the links between Ireland and the United States in the revolutionary period. A range of source material including military pensions, passport records and census data for the basis for this study. Expected research outputs include conference papers, peer-reviewed articles and a monograph.


I am a member of the Transnational Ireland Network, a group of researchers employing a range of transnational methodologies to examine the historical and cultural evolution of Ireland.

I have also acted as a peer reviewer for The Historian.


Sole-authored books

German and Irish immigrants in the Midwestern United States, 1850-1900 [New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 273].

Edited Collections

Cavan Town – A Look Back (Longford: Turners, 2019, pp. 396) [with PJ Dunne, Eugene Reilly and Michael Swords].

Peer-reviewed articles

 ‘John O’Keeffe and the Fenian Brotherhood in the American West and Midwest, 1866-1890’ in New Hibernia Review, xxi (no. 1) (2017), pp. 86-103.

Book chapters

‘Constructing an immigrant profile: using statistics to identify famine immigrants in Toledo, Ohio, 1850-1900’ in Ciaran Reilly (ed.), The Famine Irish: emigration and the great hunger (Dublin, History Press, 2016), pp. 131-45.

Book reviews

Review of Ann Power, The Brigidine Sisters in Ireland, America, Australia and New Zealand, 1807-1922, Four Courts Press, 2018 in Irish Economic and Social History (2019)

Review of Kyle Hughes and Donald MacRaild (eds.), Crime, Violence, and the Irish in the Nineteenth Century, Liverpool University Press, 2017 in Irish Literary Supplement (2019).

Further Research Outputs

Conference papers

5 June 2019: ‘Incorporating student-centred smart technology in a third-level classroom’, Carlow College, St Patrick’s, Staff C.P.D. Colloquium.

10 December 2018: ‘Into the West? German and Irish immigration to the Midwestern United States, 1850-1900’, Carlow College, St Patrick’s, Colloquium

11 October 2018:’ A Peaceful Conquest? German and Irish immigration to the Midwestern United States, 1850-1900’, Department of History Research Seminar, Maynooth University

31 May 2017: No place like home? The Forgotten Famine in the west of Ireland and Mr Tuke’s Fund, 1879-1884. Cong/ Moytura Heritage Society, Cong, Co Mayo

5 May 2017: ‘Hurrah for Plunkett: the 1917 North Roscommon by-election in context’. 1917 Centenary Reflections Conference, Roscommon Town, organised by the Department of History, NUI Galway

8 November 2016: ‘Profiling the immigrant experience: using genealogical data to interpret Irish immigrant identity formation in the United States.’ Accredited Genealogists of Ireland, Professional Development Day, Dublin City Library and Archives

2 July 2016: ‘The West’s awake: Connaught women and their experience of the 1916 rising’, Place, Identity and Conflict: War and Revolution in the West, 1913-1918. Conference, NUI Galway

19 June 2016: ‘To visit my mother (?)’: Returning to Co Roscommon during the revolutionary era’, 5th Strokestown International Famine Conference, Strokestown, Co Roscommon

27 May 2016: ‘No place like home?’: Irish immigrant identity formation in St Paul, Minnesota and Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1880-1930’, Comparative and Transnational perspectives on Irish Migration, Workshop, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

16 April 2016: ‘Did it really matter?’ Roscommon women and the Easter Rising, 1916 Seminar, Roscommon County Library, Roscommon

13 April 2016: ‘To condemn or to celebrate? Irishness and Irish immigrant identity formation in St Paul, Minnesota and Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1880-1920’, Conflict, Migration and Identity in Modern Ireland Conference, Carlow College, Carlow

11 November 2015: ‘Crisis of Identity’: The varying experiences of James Hack Tuke’s Assisted Emigrants in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, 1880-1930’, History Research Seminar, National University of Ireland, Galway

16 September 2015: ‘Replanting the Connemara Patch’: an Irish community in St Paul, Minnesota, 1880-1930’, Connemara Descendants Gathering, Clifden, Co Galway

20 June 2015: ‘A wild and miserable place’: the forgotten famine in the west of Ireland and the origins of Mr Tuke’s Fund, 1879-1884’, 4th International Famine Conference, Strokestown, Co Roscommon

24 April 2015: ‘I ain’t sorry for leaving Ireland’: the legacy of Mr Tuke’s assisted emigration scheme, 1880-1930’, Conamara: Emigration and Landscape Conference, Oughterard, Co Galway

13 February 2015: ‘We are all well and fat’: the Tuke Irish in Minnesota, 1880-1930’, Nineteenth Century Emigration Seminar, Edenderry Co. Offaly

1 November 2014: ‘I will never forget your kindness and how you worked to get us to this country’: The impact of the James H. Tuke assisted emigration scheme on Clifden’s poor.’ Mr Tuke’s Fund: Connemara emigration in the 1880s Conference, Clifden, Co. Galway

19 July 2013: ‘Constructing an immigrant profile: using statistics to identify famine immigrants in Toledo Ohio, 1850-1900’, 3rd Strokestown International Famine Conference

7 December 2012: ‘A reputation of respectability: an analysis of immigrant social and cultural institutions in theAmerican Midwest 1850–1900’, Queens University Belfast, Postgraduate Research Seminar

25 November 2012: ‘Paupers, priests and politicians: the Kerry Patch neighbourhood of St Louis, MO, 1850-1900’,Strokestown Winter Lecture Series, Strokestown, Co Roscommon

24 November 2012: ‘Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Philanthropists: the Irish imprint on the America Midwest 1850-1900’, Gathering Conference, NUI Maynooth

6 November 2012: ‘Emigration and the Irish diaspora: case studies of the Great Irish Famine’, Castletown WinterLecture Series, Castletown, Co Kildare [with Fidelma Byrne and Dr Ciaran Reilly].

30 October 2012: ‘In an effort to make her a nation: John O’Keefe and the Fenian Brotherhood in the AmericanMidwest, 1865-1880’, Irish Diaspora and Revolution Conference, NUI Maynooth

October 2012: ‘A history of hegemony: the church and immigrant experience in the American Midwest, 1850-1900’,Migration seminar, Mellon Centre for Migration Studies (MCMS), Omagh

13 September 2012: ‘The mercy of Mullanphy’s millions: the role of the Mullanphy family in the plight of St Louis’famine Irish immigrants 1845-1870’, 2nd Strokestown International Famine Conference, Strokestown, Co Roscommon

15 April 2012: ‘Turnvereins and Teetotallers – Irish and German social pursuits in the American Midwest during thenineteenth century’, Fr Kelly Memorial Lecture, St. John’s Parish Heritage Group, Roscommon

Media Interactions

March 2014: Radio Documentary entitled ‘The Tuke Fund’ for Midwest Radio (58 mins)

November 2015: Radio Documentary entitled ‘The Tuke Irish in Minnesota’ for The Genealogy Show, Radio Corca Baiscinn (60 mins)

August 2017: Guest appearance on Lesser Spotted Journeys for UTV (11 mins)

Other research activity

‘Did it really matter? Roscommon women and the Easter Rising’ in Journal of Roscommon Historical and Archaeological Society, May 2016, pp. 21-22.

Awards & Funding

In November 2019, my monograph, German and Irish immigrants in the Midwestern United States, 1850-1900 received an Award of Commendation from the Concordia Historical Institute in St Louis, Missouri for highlighting the place of Lutheran History in the German immigrant experience.

Between 2014 and 2016 I was an Irish Research Council Post-Doctoral Research Fellow working on a project entitled ‘The Tuke Irish in Minnesota: A transnational analysis of assisted emigration to the American Midwest, 1880-1930’.