The one left behind: My people lived in Carey and well, we go back to nearly 1500 and then, I’ll tell you what there was one other family of Clarkes left Carey and fled to the States away, och long ago. There was one of them left behind and he was to follow on but he died and the carved headstone is in Carey graveyard. So he died and the others all went away and I don’t know what happened to them. At that time it was hard to come back. John Clarke, down there at the bottom he told me the story. (James Clarke)

Traditional destinations

That was the rule at the time, they either went to Scotland or some went to America. The boys went to sea at that time. All my uncles nearly went to sea on the coast before they went to Canada. My father he was an invalid from the Battle of the Somme from the ’14 -’18 war. It was after the war, after that battle, that my mother married my father. His two brothers were all at the battle of the Somme and all survived it but some of them had very bad injuries. My father died from his in 1921 and my younger sister was born a fortnight after he died. So it was a pretty hard burden. My grandmother took me with her to Ireland until my mother would get back on her feet, as they called it. So I was taken to my grandparent’s home in Cloughs. (Annie McKillop)
Now the older member of the family might have gone to America, I remember my mother saying to ones, “Did you have any word from America?” “Yes I had word but not a letter.” The letter was something in it, but the word was just maybe a communication you know, but the Americans were like fairy godfathers. People always looked for parcels from America. Oh, I remember and the postmen, they collected the parcels at the Post Office and put them on a bicycle and pushed them. Part of the time they had so much on the bicycle, especially on state occasions, bonfire night and Christmas, they could not have carried it and they didn’t even have a van. (Mary Delargy)
My father went to America and he loved America and he made all arrangements for my mother to come out to him and she’d all her papers and everything. And then he heard my grandmother had died and anyway he went back to America for ten years. He was 25 when he went, and he was 35, or almost 35 when he came back and married my mother. She was 33 and that was very unusual, that was considered very old. (Mary Delargy)
Hard times abroad and at home

My father was always a farmer. He never left home. There was three brothers in the family and one of them went to America. He went to the woods in California and he stayed three years and he came home. He said if he had worked half as hard here as what he had to do in America that he would have made more money. He hadn’t to be sent any money to take him home but I don’t think when he came home, after three years, he was much the richer. He said it was very heavy going in the woods. Even if a tree fell on a man and killed him, he said, you wouldn’t have got looking at him. You went on with your job. (William Glass)
The place in Glenann, where they had the soup kitchens, was in Clignagh there. Lubitavish is the townland, you cross over. It’s just as you go up to Ossian’s Grave. It was McCloy’s. They had a big consignment of land at that time. Aye, I heard my grandfather talking about that but like I can’t remember any details, you know. They were given so much meal or whatever. It was to make porridge and that. And then they talked about the soup kitchens. I wonder if there was much soup in it or was it just stuff for to make porridge at that time. I’m not sure about that. You know like in America there, they talked about soup kitchens in the depression, but I’m sure there wasn’t a lot to make soup of, you know, at that time, but they made porridge and I think that’s what they lived on. (Annie McKillop)
The Hungry ’30s

There were a time away in the ’30s and that people left to get work. I had an uncle went. He shot a hare and he had to go. He was transported to the Rocky Mountains in America. (Alex O’Boyle)
Oh, I went to England, at maybe twenty or something like that, you know. Oh, I was away a brave while. Twenty or thirty years I’d been away. Well I had to come back because when your parents get old somebody has to look after them, don’t they? Well that’s what I done. Aye there’s one of us in America in the State of Maine. She’s married there and has a family and there’s some of them married. (F. McCormick)
Famine Times

There was a couple of families went to America in my young days. There was supposed to be one woman died at the head of Glenann. She was eating grass in the Famine. I don’t know if that was really true or not. (Bridget O’Neill)
We lived at one end of the row and there was an old woman, Mrs Clarke, lived at the other end and I heard her telling about her mother. Her mother was through the famine and told her all about it. I would say that my grandfather, you know, on my father’s side probably knew all about it. But I don’t think it. You see the famine wasn’t bad here. Because of the sea and the connection with Scotland there was always sources of food. (Lawrence McHenry)
The Not So Good Old Days

Oh aye, my parents did talk about the older days, and my mother said that their door never was locked or barred at night, and anybody could come in, and many a time there was some folk sitting at the fire, and there was no trouble or nothing then. My Grandfather used to talk about it but he just was born after The Famine. I think that was very bad at The Famine. There was a lot of ones went away. There was no potatoes that year. There was no such thing as good old days. When we were going to church we got a halfpenny for church and a halfpenny for Sundays and it was as hard to get a halfpenny as it is to get a ten-pound note now. (Mary McCurdy)
There must have been something happening, and times was maybe buzzing in America at the time, or something, because there’s an awful lot went to America around 1911 or 1912. There was a brother to Captain Jimmy McKeegan, Patrick McKeegan. He was a Captain as well, and he went to America with the whole family in 1912. At the same time there was another man, a cousin, Alex McCambridge that lived up above in Knockban there, there’s only wallsteads in it now, and he went with his family to America. He was a cousin to Patrick McKeegan. They were first cousins. And then there was another family, John McAllister’s. A wee bit farther down the brae there’s a wee house, and that’s where this man John McAllister and his wife and family went from there to America. That was three families went inside of a very short time. (Annie McKillop)
Drifting Away

I would say that all those glens were all better populated and with better housing than there was in Glendun. I think it was just its ruggedness, its quietness. There was no work but it was very isolated and it wasn’t very profitable to work really, you know. The land in Glendun would’ve been very rugged, with a lot of rocks, and very unarable land and it didn’t really entice any young ones to stay. There wasn’t really a livelihood for young people and I would say that’s why they just all drifted away, mainly to America, and then they just didn’t come back. A family living today couldn’t live on what we lived on in Glendun, you know, when I was growing up. I don’t think it was a sudden exodus out of the Glen. No, I think it was gradual but then a lot of people had gone before I was born, you know. There were a lot of people had gone that I never knew. My father and mother knew them you know, and they had obviously gone, got married and reared families out of the Glen, you know. They maybe came back an odd time to visit. Then of course, there were families maybe never married. That was another cause of the decline in population, no children. A lot of the marriages were sort of arranged marriages. (Mairead Kane)
Returning To Find Roots

I didn’t hear my parents talking about the potato blight. There were relations of the McHenry’s of Torr Head that escaped in them coffin ships, you know, they called them the coffin ships. There was a whole lot of people went away in the coffin ships. There was a lot of them died on the way out. There must have been one of the McHenry’s from Torr Head went. There was a man called at my door here about four years ago. Wasn’t he from New Zealand and says he, “My name’s Tony McHenry. Tony McHenry,” says he, “you’re McHenry too.” I suppose he looked up the name. Says he, “You were born in Torr Head?” Says I, “I was.” “My ancestors were born in Torr,” says he, “but they got away in the coffin ships at the time of the famine.” And he had a whole lot of letters with him that would confirm it, that were got from Torr Head at the time of the famine, when he went to New Zealand. (James McHenry)

Leave a Reply