Nonfiction writing project – Irish Diaspora Family Stories from Minnesota and Canada

Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Artist Growth Grant, McKnight Foundation, 2022-2024

Family from Ireland, Canada and USA – brief history – This is a portrait of Catherine Summers Walsh (1833-1909), and her husband Michael J. Walsh Sr. (1812-1901), great great-grandparents of Jannet L. Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota. Undated photo, late 1890s to early 1900s. The couple married at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 1857. They had eight children born in Ontario, and baptized on Wolfe Island, Ontario. Michael married first wife Mary Moran, 1829, and she dies in Ireland, 1831. Second wife Bridget Moran died and is buried on Wolfe Island, 1857. First born son of Michael Sr. was Patrick Walsh, born in Ireland about 1842 to 1846. Patrick’s mother was likely Bridget Moran, sister or relative of Mary Moran, married likely in County Kilkenny, Ireland. The family lines were separated in 1877 when Michael J. Walsh Sr. and family migrated to Minnesota, and Patrick Walsh and his family remained on Wofle Island farming until the 1890s, and finally migrated to Philadelphia with his family over a period of several years. Patrick and his family appear in the 1900s US Census records as living at 735 Oxford St., Philadelphia. Learn more about the Irish Canadian family at Walsh ‘s blog.

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Jannet L. Walsh
October 3, 2022
Murdock, Minnesota

Walsh Family – Jannet L. Walsh stands at the graves of her Irish born Great Great-Grandparents, De Graff, Minnesota, September 29, 2022. Her Walsh family lived at least 35 years in Kingston and Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada, after departing Ireland, and before settling as pioneers in Dublin Township, Swift County, Minnesota. Other branches of her Irish family also lived in Canada before migrating to the United States.

About this page – This page hosts the online nonfiction quest narrative genre writing project Nonfiction Quest Narrative Genre Writing Project – Family Stories: Minnesota and Irish Diaspora by Jannet L. Walsh, of Murdock, Minnesota. Walsh is a recipient of a Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, SMCA, Artist Growth Grant, 2022 – 2024. Funding for this program is provided by the McKnight Foundation. Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive. The McKnight Foundation supports working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities.

Jannet L. Walsh 
at Port Metcalf, the foot of Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada. Canada to the left, and right is the United States, Dec. 30, 2022, self portrait.

Dates of grant
Starting date, October 1, 2022
End date, June 30, 2024
Final reporting date, Aug. 29, 2024

Jannet L. Walsh of Murdock has been awarded $4,000 to write a creative nonfiction quest narrative genre writing project to produce a new collection of her family history stories in Minnesota and Canada, focusing on the “Irish Diaspora, ethnic Irish living outside the island of Ireland.” The collection of writing will be available on her website, offered to credible publications, and used to create her second book.” 

From Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, SMAC. View details at SMAC October 2022 Newsletter.

Project Hashtags



 Jannet L. Walsh, of Murdock, Minnesota, walks at the entrance to a farm her family once called home about 1850 to 1877, on Wolfe Island, Ontario Canada. Walsh explored her Irish Canadian roots during the Christmas season 2022, and early January 2023, on Wolfe Island, the largest island of the archipelago of the Thousands Island located in the St. Lawerence River and Lake Ontario. Self portrait taken December 28, 2022.

Blogs, stories, and online publications by Jannet L. Walsh

Listing of all blogs and stories at and other sources

October 1, 2022 — June 30, 2024

Interviews, publicity, talks about Jannet L. Walsh

October 1, 2022 — June 30, 2024

September 10, 2023 — Wolfe Island Historical Society talk – a Journey from Ireland to Minnesota by AeroSnapper Kingston.

About Jannet L. Walsh

Finding Irish family history – Jannet L. Walsh stands at the farm her family called home about 200 years ago in rural County Kerry, December 30, 2018.

Jannet L. Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota is a photographer, writer, and educator. She is the author of the forthcoming creative nonfiction quest narrative “Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota,” scheduled for publication in 2023 by Shanti Arts Publishing. Walsh is recipient of a Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Growth Grant funded by the McKnight Foundation, 2022-2024. You can follow Walsh on Facebook and Twitter, and on her other social media channels, with the hashtag #IrishFamilyHistoryDetective.

Online Profile and Social Media

Media Room



Living room, November 1948 Murdock, Minnesota: The late Martin J. Walsh Sr.,(1887-1988) about age 61, at home in Murdock, reading newspapers. He was photographed by his son Martin J. Walsh Jr.,(1924-2008). Martin Sr. is first generation born in the United States. His father, Michael J. Walsh Jr.,( 1858-1929) was born on Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada, 1858, son of Michael J. Walsh Sr. and Catherine Summers, both of Ireland.  The Walsh family originates from County Kilkenny, Ireland, arriving in Canada, 1842, before migrating to De Graff, Minn., 1877.  The is a copy of original black and white photograph, originally created on black and white negative film. View image at Flickr.

Genealogy, family history resources

Artist Grant – Learn more about supporting agencies of this project

This activity is made possible by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council with funds from The McKnight Foundation.

The Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC) is a non-profit organization committed to promoting and encouraging the development of the arts in the eighteen counties of southwestern Minnesota by serving as a source of funds and technical services which enable local organizations, educational institutions, and individuals to sponsor and/or create and promote the arts in their communities.

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality
of life for present and future generations. Program interests include regional economic and community development, Minnesota’s arts and artists, education equity, youth engagement, Midwest climate and energy, Mississippi River water quality, neuroscience research, international crop research, and rural livelihoods. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Foundation has assets of approximately $2.2 billion and grants about $90 million a year. 

Minnesota Residents – Search for similar arts grants at regional arts councils at the Minnesota State Arts Board website.

Subscribe – Get updates on latest blogs and news from Jannet L. Walsh and her book Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota, publication October 24, 2023, Shanti Arts Publishing.