March 22 1846Ireland, my, once beautiful home. I can’t believe I’m leavin’ you behind. But my family is starvin’ and I must go to America to get some money, so that they can come there too.
One year ago, all of the potatoes everywhere in Ireland were diein’. When my family went outside on harvest mornin’ of 1845 there was a certain smell in the air. It smelled of decay. The potato fields were dead. All the leaves on the stalks had black spots on them and when they were touched the black spots crumbled it your hands. Most of the stalks were dead, but some of them lived and we pulled them out. They seemed fine. A few days later though we heard a rumor that the potatoes were rottin’ on the inside. When we cut open the potatoes from the harvest, they were black inside.”’Don’t worry lass,” My Father said. “It’s just one bad harvest we will just make up for it next year.” Fortunately our family had money to spare and we lasted through the year. But others weren’t as lucky as us.
Most of our neighbors were not evicted the first year. They sold their wheat crop and paid the rent, but they had no money for food and no potatoes to eat. We tried to help them as much as we could but we are not rich. There were some people who were evicted, and it was horrible. The police came and made them get out, and if they would not get out, the police would just bulldozed their house with them still inside. The British will not help us. They won’t give us food or help us in any way, they just want our land for cattle grazin’.
The year after the bad harvest, there was another bad harvest. The same blackened stalks and potatoes. We will not last another year without the potato crop. Father said I must go to America. We only have enough money to send one person. I am the eldist child so I must go. Father must stay here and protect the house, and mother must take care of little Patrick. I must get a job in America and earn enough money for Ma Father, and Patrick, to come over too. It shouldn’t take to long. America is the land of opportunity! We shall have full bellies in no time. I go to America for hope, and for my family.
My family came with me to the docks. It took from November until February to get extra money, so that my family would have money for food and therefore more time. I had one rucksack filled with clothes and lots of food and what extra money we could spare. I wasn’t much but it was a whole lot more than what most people had. I hugged my Ma and Father. “I wont let you down” I said to them. Then I turned to Patrick. “You be good boyo, while I’m gone.” He tried to hide his tears. “No tears Patty,” I said “we’ll be back together sooner than you know it.” I smiled at them all. Then my father handed me a package. “A Diary,” He said. “Thank you dad” I said and I hugged him again. Then I turned around and walked onto the platform, and then on to the wooden ship. From the deck I waved goodbye, as the ship sailed out of the harbor and into the Atlantic Ocean.
The deck was crowded, but I knew I should enjoy the fresh air while I could. We would be stuck in the cargo hold of the ship for up to 60 days! But at least I would have something to do the whole time. I thank God that Father got me this. The sailors finally got us all down in the hold. There are a few candles down here but that is all for lightin’ . There are no toilets or outhouses. And we cannot cook here. All I could bring was dried food. My family had a lot of potatoes stored up from before the famine. We sold some and gave some away, and we ate some. And now I have two months worth of potatoes in my rucksack. I take out the diary that Father got me and started writin’ about how I got here. When I am done I look up through the hole that goes up onto the deck and see a full moon. At least there is some light in this dark situation, as my journey across the sea begins.
April 25I don’t have a lot of ink and there is not that much new on the ship. Every day I try to hide how much food I have. If anybody found out, they would take it all and I would starve. I know I’m being selfish but it’s the only way that I’ll survive and I must save my family. The one thing we are runnin’ out of is water. We keep hopein’ it starts rainin’ but I’m still worried that when it rains it will bring a storm. We’ve heard that last year a storm caused a ship to sink and all of the passengers drowned. I just hope we are not the next one. Another thing is worryin’ me; a couple of the passengers have a fever. I just hope it’s not contagious. It’s raining! I take out my one pot that I brought and put it by the opening to the deck but I struggle with all the others. I manage to get my whole pot full, miraculously. I go back to my stuff and start drinking. Suddenly out of the blue I hear lightning. A storm! I gather all of my things tightly to my chest. The boat rocks viciously back and fourth. Cracks of lightning are heard but not seen since they closed the trap door. The water dripping from the ceiling would snuff out any of our candles, so we sit in total darkness. Eventually the rocking is not so severe. It keeps diein’ and diein’ until it eventually stops. Hopefully this is the only storm.
May 24I see her! In the far distance the beauty of the Statue of Liberty! We can only make out her fine outline, but its still her! The sailors let us come up with all of our stuff and wait the long hour until we get to beautiful New York. She towers over us as we pass her by, her presence signifin’ a new life and a new home. But first we have to go to Ellis Island.
They made sure we were not carryin’ diseases. Those poor souls who did had to be sent back, back in those horrible conditions and probably back to death. I came out clean. What a relief! Then they gave me information about housin’ and jobs. Perfect! There were men who tried to sell me fake train tickets and high prices in boardin’ houses. But I was warned before I came out of Elis Island not to trust any of them. As I take my first steps in New York city I feel relieved and free. It is so wonderful here. No police officers to force you out of your homes. No religious persecution. You could do anything here! I now have new confidence that I can save my family. My journey across the sea is over but the adventure has just begun.
A journey across the sea
A journey across the sea<br />The story of Kathy O’Farley an Irish Immigrant.<br />