emigration grief in Clare

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matthewmacnamara
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:38 pm

emigration grief in Clare

Post by matthewmacnamara » Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:19 pm

For the Irish people for centuries emigration has been a major individual and
collective experience. Its emotional effect on the people who had to see their
children go away, often not to be seen again, must have been profound. Generally
their grief must have remained undocumented. There may have been occasions however
when it was recorded in writing in some form. I am interested in reading any
such documentations from Clare sources that people would know about.

Sduddy
Posts: 955
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:07 am

Re: emigration grief in Clare

Post by Sduddy » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:08 am

Hi Matthew

A posting I made in Feb. 2018, “A scene from Killaloe pier, Autumn 1852”, describes the grief felt by emigrants and their families at the moment of parting: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6962

Sheila

matthewmacnamara
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:38 pm

Re: emigration grief in Clare

Post by matthewmacnamara » Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:12 pm

Many thanks Sheila.
We have one or two similar items in the Limerick Chronicle
in the nineteenth century. I did not note the date, but it was 1830s or 1840s.
There are descriptions of large crowds of grieving people gathering on
the Limerick quayside as an emigrant ship gets underway.
For me emigration is an extraordinary and overwhelming Irish reality.
The emotional scars that it left can only be imagined.

Sduddy
Posts: 955
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:07 am

Re: emigration grief in Clare

Post by Sduddy » Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:50 pm

Hi Matthew

Here is the entry in the diary of Mrs. Smith (better known as Elizabeth Grant) for September 7th 1850:
Wednesday I went up to town with the Colonel and Jack [their son] to see them safe off by the steamer for Southhampton en route for Jersey. The Colonel has been so unwell, a change was really necessary for him, and as I did not like his going alone Jack went with him. It will do the boy a deal of good in every way.
There were few Cabin passengers but a shipload of Australian emigrants, decent looking people well supplied with luggage whose Adieux to the crowd accompanying them to the Quay was a miserable scene to look at. Tears, sobs, screams even, with hystericks and fainting. To their class the parting is final and though utter desolation is felt, and hope shines bright before, the moment of separation from kindred and country must be painful agony.

The Highland Lady in Ireland: Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus (the journals of Elizabeth Grant 1840 - 1850 edited by Patricia Pelly and Andrew Todd, and published by Canongate Classics)
This book is a great first-hand account of the Famine as seen through the eyes of the wife of a landlord, Colonel Henry Smith of Baltyboys, Co. Wicklow. Colonel Smith’s estate is only 1,200 acres and some of this is his own farm, so, although he has quite a few tenants as well, he is only a “middling” landlord. Mrs. Smith (Elizabeth Grant) writes mainly of the family and their activities, but also writes about the servants and the tenants. She believes in being cool and composed when dealing face-to-face with people, but lets rip when she is writing in her diary. Her impatience with tenants falling behind with rent and with the “sauciness” of servants is very clear, but I think she feels a great deal of pity too.

She doesn’t mention Co. Clare, except to say on June 14th, 1842:
There have been great riots at Ennis and elsewhere on account of the high price of provisions – scarcity I believe there is none, but the low class of capitalists who buy up the crop in the harvest sell it out usuriously high in the spring, actually driving a bargain with the necessities of a starving people giving credit at an increased rate where money is wanting and honesty known, thus keeping poverty in the cabins the year round.
Sheila

matthewmacnamara
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:38 pm

Re: emigration grief in Clare

Post by matthewmacnamara » Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:49 pm

Dear Sheila,

I return to the topic of the experience of emigration, this time on the side of those who left.
In the 1960s a west Clare man was elected to the House of Commons as a Labour MP.
His name was Michael O'Halloran.
He had arrived in England as an emigrant. And in due course got involved in trade union activity.
His experience was at the top of the success scale, like that of many others.
Many others however remained at the bottom the ladder.
I am quite interested in collecting published documentation on
the experiences of our UK emigrants, successful and less successful,
especially on the building sites and lodgings. Their memory is worthy of honour.

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