Many of these immigrants settled in existing Irish communities in America, where Catholic Churches had been built and cultural traditions were carried out. Like many immigrants, they went to towns and cities where their old friends, neighbors or relatives lived. Michael's family was no exception. His half-brother Patrick Henaghan left Tuam in 1872, possibly traveling with his sister Nora Henaghan. The siblings settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city that offered many opportunities to the Irish immigrants. There was work on the riverfront, railroad construction, and digging for the Miami and Erie Canal. The Irish men took jobs that were dangerous and unskilled with low pay. The women often found jobs as servants and nannies. Perhaps the promise of such work enticed Michael to follow his siblings to this part of America.
By 1870 more than 90 percent of immigrants traveled by steamship on their way to America. The fare would have ranged from 70 to 100 shillings, depending on whether they had accommodations in standard class or steerage. For the majority of immigrants, steerage was all they could afford. Undoubtably, Michael would have been with all the others below deck. Often called "coffin ships" about 1 in 7 passengers did not survive the crossing. Michael survived the journey, but would he survive living in the Queen City?