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THE LOVE STORY BEFORE

LOVE STORY

On September 12, 2008 Taylor Swift rose to fame with her single ‘Love Story’.

This was her first exploration of the themes of romance, personal growth, and in some respects, heartbreak and tragedy. However this wasn’t the beginning of her relationship with these themes. There was a love story before ‘Love Story’.

172 Years Before the Hit Single…

On Saturday 11th of June 1836, two young people emigrated from Ireland to the USA, aboard the ship AMY sailing from Derry. Along with some friends, they sought their fortunes in Philadelphia.

Susan Davis was a 21-year-old dressmaker, Francis Gwynn a 21-year-old weaver.

 

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this-is-not-us-st-patricks-day

172 Years Before the Hit Single…

On Saturday 11th of June 1836, two young people emigrated from Ireland to the USA, aboard the ship AMY sailing from Derry. Along with some friends, they sought their fortunes in Philadelphia.

Susan Davis was a 21-year-old dressmaker, Francis Gwynn a 21-year-old weaver.

A Voyage of Fate

Their chance encounter sewed the seams of a tale that would transcend generations, and create a global impact far greater than either could have ever imagined.

Their two-month-long voyage culminated in the ship docking in Philadelphia on August 20th.

 

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From Uncertainty to ‘I Do’

It’s unclear if Susan and Francis departed together and went their separate ways, or if they stayed in touch. What is clear is that:

3 years later, the pair married.

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this-is-not-us-st-patricks-day

From Uncertainty to ‘I Do’

It’s unclear if Susan and Francis departed together and went their separate ways, or if they stayed in touch. What is clear is that:

3 years later, the pair married.

A Love Story That Sparked Generations

Their love burned bright, and delivered them six children; Ann, John, William, Francis, Joseph, and Mary. Although sadly, five of those children predeceased Susan and Francis, they were survived by daughter Mary Gwynn, who is Taylor Swift’s great-great-grandmother. Mary laid the loving couple to rest, a mere two months apart. Some might speculate the latter died of a broken heart, or that might just be folklore.

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Susan and Francis’ story serves as a wonderful reminder that love can help us endure the toughest journeys, a theme so often encapsulated in Taylor’s lyrics. What would that young couple, who traversed the Atlantic in the 1800s, think of their great-great-great-granddaughter’s stratospheric rise to fame? Immense pride, no doubt.

Visit EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum to discover the impact Irish emigrants have had on music, film, politics and culture, in recent memory, and almost forgotten history.

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Swifties Special: Download your FREE Taylor Swift Poster

Hey Swifties! Get ready to celebrate Taylor’s Irish heritage with our exclusive, beautifully illustrated poster by the Irish artist Lauren O’Neill! This stunning artwork tells the romantic tale of Taylor’s great-great-great grandparents who emigrated from Derry to Philadelphia in 1836 and fell in love. After all, who knew Taylor was a Derry girl at heart?

Hang it on your bedroom or office wall, snap some pics, and share your Swiftie pride with the world on social. Don’t forget to tag us! #EPICmuseum

THE SWIFTIE TOUR

EVENT: The Swiftie Tour

Join our one-of-a-kind guided tour exploring the Irish roots that shaped Taylor Swift.

Discover Yeats’ influence in her songs and the love story of her ancestors. Hear tales of the bluegrass beats from Ulster emigrants, and uncover how the Clancy brothers were rocking the Aran jumper long before Taylor made it iconic. Celebrate her collaborations with Ed Sheeran and Rihanna, and enjoy the magic of the ‘Irish pub’.

Experience Taylor Swift’s journey through music, love, and Irish heritage! Explore EPIC at your leisure before or after the Swiftie Tour.

WATCH: From Roots to Records – Taylor Swift’s Genealogy Journey

On our recent Livestream, we explored the enchanting world of Taylor Swift!

Fiona Fitzsimons, genealogist with The Irish Family History Centre, revealed the fascinating details of Taylor’s Irish heritage and the captivating stories behind her ancestral roots.

Then, Caroline Kelly from Hot Press analysed Taylor’s tracks, spotlighting themes of resilience, migration, and the never-ending light of love.

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1880 Marriage certificate of George Finlay and Louisa Anna Dowling

Fun fact: Did you know Taylor Swift’s Irish roots can be traced throughout Dublin?

In 1866, Taylor Swift’s great-great-grandfather, George Findlay, enlisted in the Royal Navy and later settled in the UK after meeting Emma Maria Whiffin in South Africa. Their son George was born in Southampton, but they separated shortly after.

He then recorded himself as a bachelor when he married Louisa Anna Darling in Dublin in 1880. The Findlay family, with their artisan roots, were members of Dublin’s Hosier’s Guild for at least three generations, moving through neighbourhoods like Phibsborough, Portobello, and Harold’s Cross as their fortunes improved.

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A Word from our CEO

“In tracing Taylor Swift’s roots back to 1836, EPIC exemplifies its vital role in preserving the rich tapestry of our past, ensuring that each individual thread contributes to the vibrant narrative of our collective history. As audiences prepare to witness Taylor’s performances in Ireland, we invite visitors to visit and experience the moving and unforgettable stories of those who left the island of Ireland, and how they influenced and shaped the world.”

Aileesh Carew, CEO of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

A Word from The Irish History Family Centre

“The tale of Susan Davis and Francis Gwynn beautifully exemplifies the interconnectedness of family history and global narratives. Their journey is not just a personal love story, but a testament to the resilience and courage of countless Irish emigrants.”

Fiona Fitzsimons, Director at the Irish Family History Centre

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