Garrett's mother died at his birth. His father has resented him ever since. After her death, his father resigned himself to a life of alcohol. Garrett was never put in school, and never had anyone show him any skills. One day, while trying to steal some bread, Jimmy stopped him and took him into the shop to buy him all he could eat. It was the first time anyone ever showed him care.
Ennis came over with his twin sister Shannon. A bright young lad he decided that he would never subject himself to the condescending ways of Americans set out to take advantage of the Irish. Really, he had no practical skills and felt it was too late to learn the things he should've been taught as a child. So he turned to a life of hustling on the streets, and is in the formative stages of starting an Irish gang.
Fergus was the only member of his family to survive the crossing of the Atlantic. At 11 years old he had to learn to navigate life on the streets in New York. Having no education he often found it difficult to communicate his feelings, but when he met Ennis, he felt an immediate bond where his strength could support Ennis' agenda. To Fergus, Ennis and Liam were all the family he needed.
Liam arrived in New York at 3 yrs old, at least that's the age immigration wrote down. He doesn't know, nor does he remember his parents. He imagines they put him on the ship to save his life, but also entertains the idea they abandoned him early on in the new world. Liam is a humble lad having had to learn to accept the benevolence of others from such a young age. He doesn't like the ways of Ennis & Fergus, but they're all the family he has.