Maureen Murphy is Professor of Secondary Education and English at Hofstra University and the editor of Asenath Nicholson's Annals of the Famine in Ireland (1998) and Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger (2002).
Annie O'Donnell left her native Galway for America in 1898, one of 15,175 Irish women who left that year; they far outnumbered the men, and most of them went into domestic service. She became friends with Jim Phelan on the ship to Philadelphia. He was a 22-year-old farmer from Co. Kilkenny who had run away from home during Sunday mass to join his uncle, a tilesetter in Indianapolis. Annie went to work as a children's nurse for the W. L. Mellon family of Pittsburgh. Her letters to Jim Phelan, published here for the first time, are a unique contribution to the growing literature on women's emigration: they provide a sustained three-year narrative of her life as a children's nurse. Annie O'Donnell had been well educated in Ireland and her letters are lively and enjoyable to read. Maureen Murphy has provided an introduction and notes to the letters. Annie O'Donnell (1880-1959) was born in Lippa, near Spiddal, Co. Galway. She emigrated to America in 1898, remaining there and marrying James P. Phelan. She lived in Pittsburgh until her death.
Introduction by Maureen Murphy
Letters from Annie O'Donnell to James P. Phelan, 1901-1904