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Slán agus beannacht Dé Libh – 1863

Ballyknow Quay Photo: Greg O'Beirne Wikimedia Commons

Ballyknow Quay
Photo: Greg O’Beirne
Wikimedia Commons

SACREMENTO DAILY UNION, VOL 26, N0 3973 15TH DECEMBER, 1863
THE IRISH EXODUS
(From the London Times – October 30th) – ABRIDGED

On Monday night there steamed into Galway Bay a very large ship, with some goods on board, about three hundred steerage passengers, and a select party in the cabin. Under the protection of the Isles of Arran, thirty miles off, and favored by wind and tide, the ship steamed up to an anchorage on the safe side of a small island, on which stand a lighthouse and a battery, and thence, by means of a steam tender, communicated with the port of Galway…
Besides the four hundred steerage passengers and the twenty-three sacks of letters, she took in at Galway two puncheons of whisky and the latest telegrams…

But putting out of the question that desolate waste of waters, that strange old medieval city, its still stranger suburbs, the twenty-three sacks of letters, the twenty-eight cabin passengers, the latest telegrams, and the two puncheons of whiskey, out and out, beyond all comparison, the most important article in that departure from Galway Bay were the seven hundred steerage passengers.

They were robust, healthy young people; very few of them married; what people used to call the “sinew and bone” of a country…

This is a fact which overrides every other Irish question. The current, in every town and village, every street, every family, every breast, has set in, and it is beyond the power of Governments, of laws, of priests, of politicians, to do more than just lash and disturb the great tide of emigration… there is scarcely a cottage in the west of Ireland where the promise of the family, the elder sons and daughters – their voices and their features still fresh in memory as young and old gather round the turf fire – are now in some far Western State, sending home their hearts’ best wishes for the reunion of the circle.

While writers at home are angrily debating what is to be done with the Irish, they are fast settling the question for themselves by a universal departure.

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