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Ballyvaughan – 1853

Sangamo Journal/Illinois State Journal 22nd April, 1853

Burren Hills Photo: EO'D
Burren Hills
Photo: EO’D


The last American mail brought the sum of £500 pounds to the little village of Ballyvaughan, which is situated in the County Clare on the opposite side of the bay of Galway.   We have heard that this large sum has been sent home for the purposes of emigration, so that the neighborhood of Ballyvaughan is likely to contribute its full contingent to the host of emigrants which are daily rushing towards the English ports.  A few mornings past, the terminus at Eyre square was crowded with the relatives of the emigrants, bidding them farewell on their departure for America. In the language of a person present, when describing the numbers – it was like a fair . The strength and hope of Ireland are so rapidly passing away that sufficient hands will not remain to till the soil .

Galway Paper.

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Letter from Ireland – 1864

Freeman’s Journal 17th February, 1864 p5. (abridged)

Photo: EO’D

I have said at the beginning of this letter that Ireland is not much changed. I must correct that assertion. Emigration is making fearful changes in the country. One does not notice its effects in the large towns, but in country villages they are quite appreciable. I have been to villages that I remember populous, thriving and comfortable – ten years have made in them a fearful change. I passed through several in the West and East, where no sound awoke the solemn stillness of the deserted street but the footfall of my horse. It was as if some fearful pest had swept through each house, taking off all the inhabitants and left nothing but ruined homesteads to tell the tale.

They have a good deal of discussion here respecting the proper site for the O’Connell monument and a good deal of bickering goes on in the Committee. I fear it will not be what it was expected – a magnificent monument worthy of the man, but a simple statue by Mr Foley. They, I mean the nationalist party here, wished it to be in reality a grand monument, so that if placed in Sackville street it would overtop the English admiral and lover of lady Hamilton. It has dwindled to a statue now, or a group, and I believe it will be placed in Sackville Street, though there are certainly many other sites in Dublin where it would be much better and not liable to the same objections. But I understand that there are a great deal of the Cawtholic and English element, and where that is the case there is nothing good to be expected.

There is another body here of nationalists – the Brotherhood of St. Patrick – that is becoming more powerful day by day. There was a good deal of discussion respecting their society some time ago, whether it were a secret and illegal society or not, and the Archbishop of Dublin, and the Bishop of Kerry denounced the Brotherhood which defended itself very ably in the columns of the United Irishman and Galway American and Irish Liberator, published its rules and clearly showed that there was no secret in it. I know now whether for good or evil but there is growing up a spirit among the people of independence in political matters. Independence, I mean, of spiritual direction in matters political. Several have said to me “We have had enough of clerical guidance, we must try something else.” Time will prove whether they will be able to gain what moral force has certainly never gained for them yet. The Fenian Brotherhood of America are very strong and likely to aid their countrymen. A well organised association is a terrible sledge and John O’Mahoney holds this one in a vigorous group. Heaven send he may not with others precipitate the country into a war before she is ready for it, at any rate. There was some division, that curse of this country, springing up between these nationalists and Mr. Martin’s party, but it was quashed by the good sense of Mr. Martin.

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The tide of emigration – 1897

New Zealand Tablet 6th August, 1897 (abridged)

Between the showers Photo: EO'D
Between the showers
Photo: EO’D

The correspondent of an Irish-American exchange writing from New York says: From Ireland the tide of emigration has again set toward our shores. At Ellis Island the other day there passed through the Gate of Freedom, as the exit of the little picketed lane is called, 723 Irish lassies— the best clothed, neatest and most cheerful immigrants this country has seen for years. They ranged in age from 18 to 25 and without exception, passed every requirement as to morality and cleanliness, and satisfied the commissioners that there was no danger of their becoming charges on the public for future support.

Sixty-five per cent of the entire number were what is known as “pre-paid”‘ passengers. Their tickets had been sent them from this side. Two hundred and fifty of them will go into domestic service in the metropolitan district. Nearly three hundred went to Boston, The others are scheduled for destinations in the Middle and Western States.

Last month there were to come more than 1,000 other girls from Irish villages. The cause for this invasion is the demand for Irish girls for housemaids. The Labour Employment Bureau can place more than 2,000 of proper character and fitness. The scene on Ellis Island before they were put on board the ferries was strongly suggestive of a country fair. About a thousand of their friends, brothers and sisters of some and sweethearts and friends of others had all got permission to greet them. They just swarmed over the island. Other immigrants looked on in wonder, and listened to the rare, rich brogue which filled the air. The girls had presents of blackthorns for their, brothers and lovers and bits of lace or knittings of woollen for their sisters and long before the first hundred had passed inspection each one was wearing some taken from the other.

The immigrants all had pocket money, and they who had least had friends in waiting. They had substantial wardrobes, too, some in woollen chests, and some in large tin boxes that were written all over with the names and addresses of their owners.

When they got on the mainland and saw the elevated trains, the lovely park, the tall buildings and the crowds rushing for the ferries and heard the din of traffic, these girls from the little inland villages stood in amazement and gossiped among themselves as to what kind of a place New York must be and how soon they would be swallowed up and lost in the hundreds of thousands. They were given their first lesson in the immensity of metropolitan life, and shrank off with their friends, glad not to be alone. Those whose friends had not called for them up to sundown were cared for in the Mission of the Holy Rosary. Deputy Commissioner M’Sweeney, of the Immigration Bureau, said that this season would see ten thousand Irish girls landed in this city.

All told there were fourteen hundred immigrants landed at the island the other day.

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Stemming the tide – 1901

Vellum From the private collection of Randy Benzie Wikimedia Commons
From the private collection of Randy Benzie
Wikimedia Commons
Freeman’s Journal 23rd November, 1901 p 6 (abridged)
The ‘Anglo Celt’, viewing with alarm the appearance of desolation which the country is beginning to present, announces that to the person who succeeds in keeping the greatest number of would be emigrants from emigrating between September 28 and May 28 next will be presented with a gold medal for patriotism, together with a vellum certificate.

Twenty silver medals will also be given to the 20 who came next, they also securing vellum certificates. A certificate will also be presented to every man, woman, boy or girl who can prove that through their efforts one person was kept in the country.

That there is urgent need of something being done to stop the flow of citizens America-wards will be seen when it is stated that within the last ten years 250,000 have gone and whereas in 1840 Ireland had a population of 8,000,000 she has now only 4,400,000.

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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
(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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The Intermountain Catholic, November 24 1906 page 2

I would love to be in Galway when the flowers begin to bloom,
And the hawthorn scents the air for miles around.
When the birds begin to warble their welcome to the spring
No sweeter spot on earth can e’er be found;
When Croagh Patrick starts to brighten and clad in verdant green,
I dream about its slopes and sadly moan;
As I listen to the Claddagh rippling onward to the sea,
I would love to be in Galway, “Home, Sweet Home”.

I would love to be in Galway when the tide breaks on the shore.
And the silver mists are rising from the sea.
When the summer sun in brightness lights the valleys all around, 
And nature’s jewels are sparkling, I can see
The little old thatched cottage and the ivy creeping round
And the skylark thrilling in the vaulted dome:
Among quiet nooks and dells fairy music softly swells.
I would love to be in Galway. “Home, Sweet Home”.

I would love to be in Galway in the autumn of the year,
When the gentle sighing zephyrs sweep the vales;
And the turf fire burning brightly as the children cluster nightly
To listen to those dear old fairy tales.
Then my thoughts go home to mother and my home across the sea.
In dreams across Atlantic’s wave they roam.
I would love to be in Galway just to close my eyes and rest.
Oh, I would love to be in Galway,
“Home, Sweet Home.”

The Bridge of Tears (Droichead na nDeor in Irish) in West Donegal, Ireland. Family and friends of emigrants would accompany them as far as the bridge before saying goodbye, while the emigrants would continue on to Londonderry Port.
The Bridge of Tears (Droichead na nDeor in Irish) in West Donegal, Ireland. Family and friends of emigrants would accompany them as far as the bridge before saying goodbye, while the emigrants would continue on to Londonderry Port.
The Galway roads are calling, calling to the Galway-born;
They can see the dew-wet hedges shining jeweled in the morn!
They can hear the heart-born laughter of each childhood-known gossoon,
And o’nights they hear the fiddles in a well remembered tune,
And the Galway voices call them where the Galway children play.
And their hearts turn back to Galway
Aye, from half the world away!

And the Devon roads are calling, calling to the Devon-born;
They can smell the English roses in the sweetness of the morn;
They can see the white winged fishers homing when the day is done,
On a sea all crimson glory form the setting Devon sun;
And the blue-eyed Devon lassies call them from the long ago,
And their hearts are sick for Devon when the sun is red and low.

And the Scottish hills are calling – call the Scottish banks and braes;
And the Holland dikes and lowlands;
and call loud Italian ways.
From wherever men were children,
North or South or East or West,
Comes the call to those who’ve wandered when their faltering limbs would rest,
It is not the home ways calling when the evening sun sinks low,
It is lost youth calling, calling; but they never seem to know.