Posted in Posts and podcasts

Leaving Ireland – 1907

The Catholic Press 13th June, 1907 p6IMG_20150116_191121
Father Fitzgerald OFM (abridged)
At the very period of the year when travellers from other lands are trooping to the beauty spots, of Ireland, her own sons and daughters are bidding farewell for ever to her shores. The column of the morning papers devoted to fashionable intelligence relates daily that various honorables with their ladies and retinue have arrived from abroad at Kingstown, but the emigrant ship may bear away her freight of the young and strong unnoticed and unchronicled save by widows wails and the ruined fireside. The emigration season sets in now in Ireland as regularly and as surely as the fishing or the shooting seasons.

To accommodate the thousands, or rather the scores of thousands, who depart yearly, excursion trains are run to the seaports, and large steamers compete with each other in speed and cheapness of transit to America. Indeed, it is a sad thing to meet one of those American excursion trains, still worse to occupy a place in the train even for a short journey, for scenes of great affliction occur at every station.

A bird of ill-omen appeared in Galway Bay on the 27th of the present month of April. This was an emigrant steamer the first of the season. Another will call in ten days more and take up her own portion and those who were left behind through over-crowding on Friday morning. About a fortnight ago a large poster, printed in red lettering, appeared on the dead-walls and gate-piers of Galway, announcing the fact that the Salmatian of the Allan Line would call at Galway on the above date. Details followed concerning the superior accommodation, and the lowness of the fare across. The news was carried through the hills of Connemara and out to the Isles of Aran and along the coast to Inishbaffin, and in answer to the call, like to the beacon-fires of old, many a youth and maiden was up and doing. Many a one humped the last Irish of seaweed up the barren hillside or spent the last dark night watching the phosphorescent gleam on the dark waters that tells of the herring shoal, or walked six miles, if not more, to the town and back to sell a quart or two of milk.

In almost every townland in the surrounding country there are celebrated several American wakes. Your readers may not know that this is the title given to the domestic celebration that is held in every home, however humble it may be. On the eve of the departure of one of its inmates to America, A quarter-cask of porter is provided, or some good poteen, and the neighbours get word, and music is supplied by a piper or an expert on a melodeon or a flute, or a concertina, or all in turn. The boys, and the girls take the floor, and the rinca fada, the curcaher, or the Curuckther are faithfully performed, until day breaks. Then, weeping takes the place of laughter, and the whole house turns out to accompany the parting one to the station, except the old grandfather or grandmother, who rocks the cradle with their foot and minds the house.