Mudcat Café message #2804075 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #30772   Message #2804075
Posted By: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
05-Jan-10 - 12:32 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
Many thanks for this material (I assume from a tape-recording), which is similar to some of the stories I've heard from "kind friends and relations", themsleves, coincidentally, from Donegal, though closer to Derry town than to Donegal town. Just recently, in conversation with a woman from Ballybofey in Donegal, I learnt that some of the ships taken by Irish emigrants - not, presumably, the "coffin-ships" - would actually have been returning, empty, to Canada, after having transported timber from there to British ports; a variation on the efficient "Triangular Route" of the Slave Trade.

In mentioning the rediscovered "Skibbereen" to my mother, she told me something she'd been told as a child, about the Famine years; there were scores or hundreds of evicted, or unemployed, people roaming the country, seeking shelter wherever they could and either begging or "foraging" sustenance as they went. It seems that the wealthier farmers, or some of them at least, were harrying these people from their land, where they were digging with their bare hands for whatever turnips, carrots &c they could find. One day, one such farmer rode up to the farm which my mother's people have owned for generations (one of the buildings on it, not the oldest either, has the date "1838" cut above the door), telling of a "whole flock of beggars" digging turnips from one field below the road, and urging that they be seen off. My great-great-grandfather said he'd not put starving people off his land, and would not go along with the idea. (Some of these evicted people later built shelters along the road close to the nearest village, and it's possible that my grandfather, nearly a century ago now, married one of their descendants). Anyway, according to my mother, whatever is now planted or reared on that field will flourish or thrive better than anything else on the (comparatively small) farm.   I'll be asking some aunts if they have more details of this story, in the Summer.