'An tOcras Mór' The Great Hunger.



Post Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1033


"My sister Margaret and myself sailed from Sligo on the 27th May 1847 and after a very troublesome and turbulent voyage landed in Quebec, on the 11th day of July, 1847. The ships name was Ellen and was commanded by Capt. Thomas Hood an Englishman and a very efficient and good man.


Shortly after leaving Sligo with about three hundred and fifty passengers the deadly “ship fever”, a violent form of typhus fever, raged among the passengers and fully one third of the passengers died of this dread disease. The disease was of generally short duration in most cases. Sometimes a person would be alright in the evening and would be taken sick at night and be dead by day brea

The method of burying was the wrapping of the body in sail cloth and placing it on a plank on the rail of the ship, then weighing it down with sand or stones and cast into the water. As there was no clergyman on board I read the De Profundis over each before the body was cast into the sea and such heartrending scenes I have never before or since witnesse

At arriving at Quarantine outside of Quebec a great many of the passengers affected with the fever were detained there. But Margaret and myself with many others were allowed to proceed to Quebec . We stayed there about two weeks in Quebec at a street or locality called Diamond Harbour, and visited with a friend and neighbour, a man by the name of Anthoney Conoley, who lived in the same townland with me in Ireland .


We sailed up the river to Montreal in steam boat called the “John Munn” and stayed in Montreal about three weeks, I working about two week on the La Chene Cannal Bason lock. My sister Margaret was stopping at a lodging house. We then went up the La Chene Canal to Otawa then called Bytown. We only stayed a few hours. We then went down toward Kempville and was accompanied by Catherine McGill an Emigrant girl whom we met in Montreal who was on the way to her friends in Kempville.


Before arriving in Kempville the boat became disabled at a place called Beckwith Landing, and Margaret and Miss McGill becoming sick with the fever we were obliged to leave the boat at that place and took refuge at the house of one Patrick Mullin a very kind and good man who contracted the disease from us and died of it.


After leaving Mullins we went to Kempville where I rented some rooms, but in a short time after sister Margaret got a relapse of the Typhus fever, and after doctors care and my attendance got well. At the same time I got a job on a building of Mr. Jones M.P., at Kempville on his new building. My first part of the job was on trial, was to build some Eliptic Arches over the front entrance and sides, but after some time I was taken sick with the Typhus fever and by this time sister Margaret was recovering so she could attend to my wants and in about three weeks I was able to sit up alone in a chair.

September 29, 2010 at 8:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1033


I gained strength fast, and I being anxious to go to work, my next was in building a cellar for a black smith by the name of Foster and he cheated me out of a large portion of my pay. But when I was about putting on the last finishing touches, there came a heavy rain storm gave me a severe drenching. I was scarce able to go home and after I got home I lay down with a relapse and racking pains and aches, that I almost despaired of ever standing on green grass again. But I still got to be able to go around again and my Eyesight became so weak and effected that when I approached an object, it appeared to my vision that there were two in place of one…


…On February 9 th 1848 I came to Prescott and crossed the St Lawrence to United States , but in crossing there was some difficulty it being a cold night. I hired a skiff to take me over. There was a woman passenger along with us and I think would weigh 250 lbs avoirdupois, and she sat in the stern of the boat which afterwards became a very useful balance. Whereas the ice was in many places from ½ inch to 1 ½ inch thick, and in getting the bow of the boat on the ice like a sleigh runner, and the stern in the water. And by means of a long gaff used by the man in the bow, and at the same time the man in the center of the boat paddled with his oar with all his might to drive the boat ahead.


During this time the corpulent woman kept a rocking in the stern through and fro in order to keep the bows in the water and break the ice at the stern, but after some cold time and difficulty we landed in Ogdensburg. Next morning I started in search of a job and I dandered in to a marble shop kept by a man of the name of Whitney, which was about hireing me and gave orders to draw out by pencil, the portrait of St Patrick, which I did as I was well versed on that subject. I mad a very good attempt. He was called away on some business and told me to remain in the shop until his return, but as my purse being light and night approaching, I did not wait for his return, and went to the suburbs of the city where I happened on a job that lasted a few weeks.


I was sent on an errand and happened to meet a team going to Ogdensburg for coal, and asked me to ride. He went into a tavern to refresh and water his horses and after arriving there, there were several persons in the bar room, and amongst them were two contractors of different sections of the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain R. Road . These happened to have a letter written by some C. Engineer and all in the room was puzzled to read it, but I have been glancing over their shoulders and had a good idea of the words and contents and corrected them several times. They handed me the letter which I read to the satisfaction of all in the room, and after asking me had I a trade I said I was a mason, and both men offered me a job as both of them had two large bridges to build. And I remained there for the summer and fall of 1848 with one of them.

September 29, 2010 at 8:42 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1033


After I got settled in work I went back to Canada for my sister Margaret, and started back toward Potsdam again where I was working on a bridge that crosses the Racquette River and secured a place for my sister with a family of Daniel Bellis about four miles from Potsdam, and some time after went to work for Attorney Knowles, where she remained until she came to Watertown with her parents, brothers and sisters on corner of Washington and Haley Sts, Watertown, N. York.


On this above named bridge the contracter broke down and owed some money, but after going through a process of law only a small portion remained to my share. My father and mother and family came then from Ireland May 13 th 1849 to Potsdam and came to Watertown where they remained on Gotham St where they both died. Mother Sept 26 1867, Father Oct 13 1867 at the house of their son Patrick Burns 35 Gotham St Watertown N.Y., and buried in Calvary cemetery Watertown where there is erected a monument 22 feet high cut and erected by their children and carved and lettered by their sons John and Patrick. May they rest in peace."




The family prospered and multiplied in its new northern New York home. The three sons and two daughters who married all had large families that, today, are spread around the United States. Patrick himself became a general contractor and built numerous churches, bridges, and commercial buildings in various northern states and Canada. Ironically, he also became a landlord, eventually owning nine houses that he divided into flats and rooms to rent, mostly to other Irish immigrants. However, his rents were reasonable averaging about $1.75 per week.




This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

September 29, 2010 at 8:43 AM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.