By Margaret Laura O’Shea

 

Life was not easy for the Irish during the 1840’s, mine was no different.

My father was a shop keeper in a small town.  My mother kept the books for him.  We the children took pride in helping him stock the shelves, sweep the floors, and other such things.

In 1845, the first wave of the great famine hit Ireland.  My father could see that it may be a good time to move out of the area or leave the country all together.  He decided to close the doors and buy as many tickets as he could and move away from “this God forsaken place”.   Father had just enough to buy passage for all of us, except for me.

Father and mother were somewhat afraid of me, why you may ask… I wasn’t the usual child.  Well in the fact that I felt that lying was a great sin and I could tell when others were lying and I let everyone know.  I was not a subtle child and could not understand why a person would hide the truth.  My parents feared that they couldn’t keep me in line and were concerned that the township would come after me for my behavior.

On the eve of my family leaving on their new adventure, it was decided by mother and father that I would stay with my mother’s parents and care for them.  This was something that I carried out dutifully.  My grandparents were honest and forthright with me and that suited me just fine.  By 1847 they had finally passed away from starvation.  My grandfather who was also a shop keeper and small farmer could no longer afford to feed us and slowly but surely their health lapsed and I am certain I was not far behind until I met an unusual couple.

 

 

Foot note:

The famine continued for a few years and the after effects have lasted longer than that.  There are many different thoughts on why the famine was so terrible in Ireland.  Some believe that it was English rule not caring for those that lived “on that Island over there” and some think that it was justice for something we had done in our collective past.  I am certain that there is a sliver of truth in it all but since I have not come into contact with those who truly know.  Well… you could imagine what might have happened to me if I did.

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