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To advertise in THE ROCKAWAY TIMES call 718-634-3030
The Rockaway Times
By Emil R. Lucev, Sr. & his daughter
Katie Lucev
Please join me in taking a trip
back in time to read about the
History of Rockaway’s Irishtown,
USA. At the end of the American
Revolution, Bayles, Carpenter,
Smith, Wiggins, Wilson, Bettes,
Evert, Higbie, Henderson, Inn-
is and Mills were all examples of
Irish names found in local militia
organized in Hempstead town, of
which the Rockaways were part
of and known as Near Rockaway
(Oceanside) and Far Rockaway.
The names Near and Far came
from their proximity to Hemp-
stead. At the outbreak of the
American Revolution, the point
of the Rockaway Peninsula was
then located justwest of oldBeach
88th Street. The long sandbar that
formed west of this old point be-
came the Seaside section of the
Rockaway peninsula, around the
time the Constitution of the Unit-
ed Stateswas ratified. It was awild
and wooly stretch of sand dunes
coveredwithcedar trees.
During theWar of 1812, a block-
house was built at the point of our
peninsula (approx. Beach 137th
Street), and manned round-the-
clock by theMilitary of NYC. Some
of the (Irish)men’s last nameswho
served at Fort Decatur are Finne-
gan, Craig, Gale, McGuire, Mc-
Gowan, SmithandSweeny.
In the mid-19th century, dur-
ing the great Irish immigration to
the USA, some immigrants set-
tled in Far Rockaway. Early maps
and writings from that time list
names from“The Sons of Erin,” in
Far Rockaway. They are: Caffrey,
Mulry, McCarty, McCarthy, Mo-
ran, Finnucan, Norton, Kelly the
sheriff, Kelly the mason, Harper,
Conway, Bell, McManus, Horton,
Wynn, Reilly, Healy, McKelvy,
Horan, Mulhearn, Shilling, Craig,
Mimnaugh, Skelly, McTigue,
Jones, Murray, Hughes, Hickey,
Fitzpatrick, Prendergast, Gun-
ning, Allen, Clark, Clake, Cleary,
Curtis, Darcy, Deragh, Donohue,
Flynn, Grifan and McCabe. They
all contributed to developing the
tial area became known as The
The Seaside section began to
grow as a summer resort after the
Civil War. Many hotels and bath-
houses were built with watering
holes. Restaurants were also con-
structed for the tourists seeking
relief at the seashore from the hot
inner city. Apparently, thingswere
not as cool in Seaside as thought.
In 1876, Mr. Acton E. Kelly pub-
lishedthefirstnewspaper inRock-
away in an effort to establish law
and order. We also learned that
Ellen Kelly ran a den of iniquity in
Seaside, where persons of ques-
tionable character “hung-out.” It
is not known if the Kelly’s men-
tioned were related in any way.
At times, places like these were
wrecked and closed down by
respected locals. Law and order
was not established until many
years later when a solid Police
Force was established.
By 1881, there were 48 bars in
Seaside. MOSTwere operated by
Irish owners.
A local map dated in 1886
revealed the following Irish
surnames in the Seaside area:
O’Brien, Ennis, Norton, Wa-
ters, Smith, Harrison, Magerus,
Welch, Walsh, Emmet, Boyle,
McDevitt, Phalen, Murray, Val-
entine, Curley, McLain, Morri-
son, Reynolds, Farrell, Sheeran,
Fannagen, Hepburn, Coghlan,
Griffing, Ryan, Muir, Donnelly,
Freil, Horan and Brosnan.
Tragedy struck during the cold
season in 1892 when the en-
tire Seaside section from Beach
102nd Street to Beach 106th
Street (ocean to bay) burned
Irishtown History
Continued on page 11