Wednesday, April 3
A good beginning. At breakfast, someone who was here last year remembered me as part of the poet’s group. Being seen and heard makes a difference: my mood has shifted. Yet, I couldn’t make myself visit the cafe for another aperitif or sit alone for dinner. But flowers are in my room again.
Thursday, April 4
Declan O’Rourke performed in the chapel tonight. He began by asking the audience to let the songs wash over them and emerge as if in dream but a dream that changed us. The program was a series of songs under the title, “Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine” (1845-49), a horror story of the other, the profound dehumanizing of the Irish by the English: land grabbing, families segregated from each other in work houses, starvation and death.
Cuimhneachan Dhumha Locha, The Doolough Memorial
The Plaque reads,
“This valley witnessed one of the darkest moments of the great famine. On a bitterly cold day in 1849, up to 600 people gathered in Louisburgh seeking food or a ticket to the Westport workhouse. They were told to apply to the Poor Law officials who were meeting the next day in Delphi, over ten miles away.
Some died overnight. The rest struggled across the mountains following sheep tracks and wading streams. When they arrived in Delphi, the Poor Law officials rose from lunch, refused to help and told them to return. No one knows how many died by the wayside of cold, hunger, and exhaustion. Some were buried where they fell.
The sighing of the winds above their nameless graves forever sings their requiem. James Berry, c19”
My great grandmother came to the states. Is this why?
Compiled by the Roscommon Historical Society, Roscommon, Ireland
Great grandmother Mary Kearns was born in 1862 almost 20 years after the Great Famine, but her mother and father lived through it. There couldn’t be much to share even in 1862. In America where she emigrated, she was soon widowed, sending her children back to Bridget Kearns, her widowed mother, as she struggled to make ends meet working as a maid in Llewelyn Park, West Orange, New Jersey, the gated community and home to Thomas Edison.
Irish Census Records, 1901