In the aftermath of the Potato Famine in Ireland, a number of the Irish immigrants who came to Scotland in the 1840s and 1850s changed their surnames and religion in order to conceal their roots and avoid discrimination. In documented cases, Sweeney was changed to Swan, O'Carroll to Charles, O'Donnell to Dodds. The Irish immigrants were viewed by the locals as undesirable, ignorant and superstitious (ie poor, uneducated and Catholic). The fact that the Irish immigrants were prepared to work for lower wages than the indigenous Scots did not help matters.
The Irish immigrants who came to Scotland from the 1860s onwards rarely changed their religion, but in many cases their surnames were recorded incorrectly by Scottish officials.
In October 1877, 214 men and boys - 11 were actually under the age of 14 - lost their lives in an explosion at Pit No.2 in the Dixon mine at High Blantyre. Of the 240 men and boys who had gone to work that October morning at Pit No.2, only 26 survived the explosion, most of them very badly injured. Incredibly, in 1879, there was another explosion at Pit No.1 in High Blantyre, in which a further 28 men and boys died. Around half of the workforce at the High Blantyre pits were Irish and this is reflected in the surnames of many of the deceased in the 2 explosions.
The following 60 Irish surnames appeared amongst the dead at Blantyre:- Berry, Boyle, Brannigan, Brannan, Bryson (Breslin), Brown (Browne), Burns (Byrne), Cairns (Kearns), Carlin, Cox, Coyle, Cosgrove (Cosgrave), Conaghan, Crowe, Conlan, Campbell (Irish), Connelly, Dolan, Divers, Duffy, Gilmour (Irish), Gribben, Hanlon, Kavanagh (Cavanagh), Kelly, Kenny, Lynch, Lafferty, Larkin, Martin, Mullan, Murray (Irish), Moore, Murphy, Malone, Meechan, McCue (McHugh), McGowan, McFadden, McGarry, McGarvey, McLaughlin, McKelvie, McCusker, McCulloch, McGhee, McMullen, McAnulty, McGuigan, O'Brien, O'Donnell, O'Neil, Owens, Roper, Smith (Smyth), Tonner, Traynor, Vallelly, Welsh (Walsh) and Ward.
Many of these surnames appeared more than once as fathers, sons and brothers died together. For example, there were 4 Kellys who died in the large explosion of 1877.
Source: Glasgow Guide
Sent in by Betty McGaulley