Updated: Oct 8, 2020
One hundred and twenty-eight people recorded China as their place of birth in the 1901 Census of Ireland. By 1911 that figure was almost the same at one hundred and thirty individuals. Most of these people were the children of government officials or missionaries.
None had recognizably Chinese names. There was two exceptions however.
The first was Aliu? Jang. He was recorded in the 1901 Census because he was a member of the crew of a ship docked at the Alexandra Basin in Dublin Port. He was 46 years of age, married and worked as a cook on a 4-mast barque called the Oweenee, a Canadian vessel.
The second was Kwasyuen Tsan. He was born in China in 1881 and in the 1911 Census he was listed as a boarder at a hotel in Belfast’s College Square, Co. Antrim. A married man, he worked as a commercial traveller for a drapery company.
The oldest person to have been born in China (Macau in this case) was Anne Jane Persse, who lived at Leighlinbridge Co. Carlow. She was born Anne Jane Whiteman in about 1835 to Sarah Horseley and John Whiteman, a director of the East India Company.
In 1901, 71 year-old Kerry farmer Jeremiah Foley, filled in his census form revealing that 3 of his grown up children were born in Hong Kong. The Killorglan native had been a police officer in Hong Kong in the 1870s.
In the 1911 census Edith, (20) Irma (19) and Arpad (14) Szigetvary, living at Cromac Co. Antrim, were all listed as having been born in Manchuria. They were the children of Louis Edward North Szigetvary, a Hungarian-born custom’s official, and Edith Worth of Belfast.
In 1901 French-born Eugenie Dowdall was living at 34 Rutland Avenue, Dublin. Six of her seven children were born in China. They were the children of William M. Dowdall, a Dublin-born architect who was based for most of his life in Shanghai.