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From: "Jean R." <>
Subject: Ship "Erin Go Bragh," owned in Cork by Joshua and Abraham HARGREAVES, 1851 --- Also Emig. Pamphlets
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2005 15:22:22 -0800


The "Erin Go Bragh," (Ireland Forever), was a fully-rigged, three-masted ship owned in Cork by Joshua and Abraham HARGREAVES, built of oak and tamarack, beech and elm.

During the 19th century, a total of nine million emigrants spilled out of Europe, sailing from Liverpool to America. Many immigrants from Europe were brought from Hull by rail to Liverpool 100 miles away. It was logical for Irish to aim for Liverpool as their launching pad into the New World as it was a familiar site of work for thousands of Irish farmhands who regularly crossed to Liverpool, seeking work at the end of summer on English farms. Too few opportunities existed at home and the wages in England were better. Many more ships were available in Liverpool with its big, fast vessels and speedy American packet ships. The day of departure, each emigrant had to appear before a medical officer who was paid by the ship owner or charterer one pound for every hundred passengers he gave a very rudimentary examination to, and he would stamp each ticket as proof of inspection. Passengers were entitled to board the ship 24 hours before departure.

Leaving Liverpool on March 22, 1851, bound for America (on what proved to be an uneventful trip) was the HARGREAVES' ship, "Erin Go Bragh" and 273 Irish passengers, including several large families, a few spinsters and 50 young, unattached men ready for work. Since the records do not give county of of origin, it is nearly impossible to sort out where the passengers originated from, but I note a 18-year-old laborer with the unusual name of Rose KILFEATHER.

Captain Jeremiah CASEY and his crew of 15, plus four teenage apprentices, set a good pace across the Atlantic and reached New York after 32 days at sea on April 23, 1851. Of course many, many voyages of other ships during this time period and earlier were hideous ordeals for the passengers depending on factors such as weather, number of passengers and crew, experience of the crew, condition of the ship, food supplies, time of year, illness on board, etc.

By report, a bustling, colorful scene greeted the passengers of the "Erin Go Bragh" on arrival at the South Street Seaport. Captain CASEY used the current to force the ship over to the Manhattan side of the East River. As the ship passed by a cluster of barges, some laboring dock hands looked up and greeted the few passengers on deck who called down below with details of quays turned into market places as fishing smacks disgorged their catches and schooners unloaded fresh fruit onto roughly-made stalls. Women clasped their bonnets against the wind. It was noted that no one was seen fighting over food, there were no beggars but signs of plenty all round. They saw sacks of grain being off-loaded onto barges which disappeared into the city on a network of canals. The steep sloping roofs of tall, square warehouses three stories high looked down on all the activity and many flags of the Stars and Stripes fluttered their welcome to new Americans.

Suddenly America, the Land of the Free, lay at the end of the mooring line which was spinning through the air from the hands of the second mate, Eddie McDONNELL. Per reports, a preacher on a box was exalting a small crowd to resist evil and a knot of ships' captains were seen exchanging their news.

While some faced their new life alone and unprepared, the lucky ones met families waiting for them on arrival. For aspiring farmers, there had been news of enticing land offers which had been published in emigrant circulars. The official "Colonization Circular," for instance, published each spring in Britain, gave details of farmland for sale in Canada. The circular in 1851 listed several areas where cleared land was available at 5 shillings (US $1.25) an acre stating that "one-fourth of the purchase money will be payable in five years from the date of purchase, the remaining in three equal installments at intervals of two years between each, all with interest". The limit was set at 100 acres but the reasonable terms of such offers indicated the eagerness of the Canadian and American governments at that time to hang onto the Irish emigrants to work the land. In Nova Scotia, land was sold at half that in Canada; if the full amount were paid on purchase, a 100-acre farm could !
be bought for eight pounds 15 shillings, (US $43.75).

Although it had no official backing, a booklet entitled "Nine Years in America," was in great demand in Ireland during that time. It was compiled from a series of letters sent from Thomas MOONEY, who had traveled all through America and Canada to his cousin Patrick MOONEY, a farmer in Ireland. The opening words were bound to have appealed to the hard-pressed Irish peasant. "The American farmer never pays any rent, when he takes a farm he buys it forever...two, three or possibly seven years may pass over before he is called upon by the government to pay the purchase money." MOONEY also noted that food in America was only two-thirds of the price in Ireland and public taxes about a quarter; while clothing, fuel and house rent were about equal. He noted that the facility for acquiring housing, lands, and education for children was "a hundred to one greater," and that emigrant passengers had much to look forward to.


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