Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec

during the Great HUNGER, from the Cobh Heritage Center

“Grosse Isle quarantine station was on an island near Quebec in what is now Canada. It was one of the principal arrival ports for emigrants.

Emigration peaked in 1847 when nearly 100,000 Irish landed at Grosse Isle, straining the resources to breaking poinit. Severe overcrowding and an outbreak of typhus caused enormous suffering the the result was a large number of deaths amongst both immigrants and doctors.

New stricter laws were passed to encure that the catastrophe of 1847 was not repeated. Irish emigrant traffic increasingly flowed towards the United State inthe post-Famine period”. From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

In that horrible year of 1847, strict quarantine could not be enforced and many passengers, some carrying disease, were taken directly to Montreal or Quebec city. At least 5,000 died on Grosse Isle in 1847 and thousands more in Quebec, Montreal and during the voyage across the Atlantic.

The unprecedented crisis made it difficult for accurate records to be kept. Some lists were compiled giving details of the possessions of those who died. These lists make sombre reading as they describe the personal belongings of Irish men and women whose hopes of a new life in North America were never fulfilled.

The objects in this showcase provide an representation of the possessions of famine emigrants. From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Assistance from America

during the Great HUNGER, from the Cobh Heritage Center

“The U.S.S Jamestown was the first ship to bring famine relief supplies to Ireland in 1847. Other vessels followed, notably the Macedonian which arrived in Cork July 1847. Captained by George C. DeKay of New Jersey, it carried supplies provided by the citizens of New York, Boston, Main and other parts of the United States. Captain DeKay was warmly welcomed in Cord and special events were held in his honor. Most of the cargo was distributed in Ireland, with some being brought to Scotland to relieve distress there. Other smaller supplies of famine relief goods were sent to Cork from the United States. In April the bark Tartar sailed to Cork with in late June the Reliance left Boston, also destined for Cork. Each carried nearly $30,000 worth of goods for famine relief. From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

United States frigate Constellation with relief stores for Irish distress off Haulbownline in Cork Harbor.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Peel’s Brimstone

during the Great HUNGER, from the Cobh Heritage Center

“In November 1845 the British government set up a Relief Commission for Ireland which imported Indian corn and meal from the United States. This arrived in Cork early in 1846 and was distributed around the country where local food depots and relief committees were established. Indian corn (maize) was not grown in Ireland and was an unfamiliar food. It was difficult to grind and in some areas was known as “Peel’s brimstone,” after the Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. Special leaflets were issued to describe how to cook maize.” From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

Instructions for how to cook maize. In the west of Ireland many people spoke Irish.

“On Saturday last, the Government Sales of Indian Corn commenced in Cork. Immediately on the depoys being opened, the crowds of poor persons who gathered round them were so turbulently inclined as to require the immediate interference of the police, who remained throughout the day.

Among the poor, who were of the humblest description, and needing charitable relief, the sales were but scanty. The occasion had become of necessity; for potatoes had risen to 11d. the market price for 14 pounds; and, some of the leading commercial men in Cork have made a calculation, which show that the Government can afford to sell the Indian Corn at a much cheaper rate.

We feel gratified to learn that a steamer has been dispatched from Cork to Dublin, laden with 600 sacks of Indian meal.

One half, by the orders, is to be dispatched by the Royal, and the other by the Grand Canal, to the interior. It must be acknowledged that her Majesty’s Government are executing their dury promptly and with energy. from the Illustrated London News, April 4, 1846″. ~ from the exhibit, Cobh Heritage Center.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

An Gorta Mor

The Great Famine

Hunger and desperation forced thousands into the overcrowded workhouses and put enormous pressure on relief schemes which attempted to alleviate the distress. Over three quarters of a million people died during the Famine, mainly from diseases such as cholera. Between 1845 and 1851 over 1,500,000 people emigrated from Ireland. ~from poster “The Famine” Cobh Heritage Center, May 2014.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Irish Emigrant Experiences

Cobh Heritage Center

Continuing from the “Queenstown Glamor” of the SS Servia these are exhibits of what it was like to emigrate from Ireland in the 19th century.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Queenstown Glamor

Cobh Heritage Center

Nothing so grand as the SS (or HMS) Servia carried my ancestors from Ireland to America. This ship model, created for the 1992 film “Far and Away” is on display within Cobh Heritage Center. Said by some to be the first true transatlantic ocean liner. Launched in 1881 as luxury transportation by the Cunard Line of today’s Queen Mary. Last year, we enjoyed the arrival of Cunard’s Queen Victoria to Cape Canaveral. (Click the link for my blog of the event, one of the last cruise ships to sale during the pandemic of 2020).

It is notable the model played a small role in the film, yet is an incredible accomplishment. By the way, from 1849 to 1920 Cobh was known as “Queenstown” in honor of a visit by Queen Victoria. The Irish Free State returned the name to the original.

References

SS Servia – Wikipedia

Far and Away – Wikipedia

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Blessing of the Bonnets

Christina Henri, 25,566 bonnets, convict women Australia bound

January 1, 1835 the “convict” ship “Neva” departed from Cobh harbor for Sydney, Australia. The 241 people on board included 150 female “convicts”, their 33 children, 9 “free” women (probably the wives of convicts) and their 22 children, 27 crew. During the passage three persons died, one child was born. About 5 a.m. on May 13, 1835 the Neva hit a reef northwest of King Island in Bass Strait and broke apart rapidly. Twenty two survivors drifted ashore on two rafts formed by the fore and aft decks of the wrecked ship. Seven women died of exposure the first night ashore. Fifteen, six women and nine crew, were later rescued. No children survived.

Between 1791 and 1853 approximately 26,500 Irish people were forcefully transported to New South Wales. The 25,566 bonnets crafted for this project represent lives of female “convicts”. The slide show are photographs of the exhibit, Cobh Heritage Center, County Cork, Republic of Ireland.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Queenstown personal connection

Cobh Heritage Center

The Irish Free State was four months old when my then 35 year old Grandfather and Grandmother boarded the S.S. Montnairn out of Belfast. My mother, two months short of three years of age, accompanied them on this voyage to a new life as Canadian citizens. This slideshow is a mix of images from the Cobh Heritage center and my personal genealogy materials.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Father Brown’s Titanic Photographs

Cobh Heritage Center

The Cobh Heritage Center documents the experiences of Irish emigration. Here I share information about the Titanic’s maiden voyage through the photographic work of Father Frank Brown. Cobh, pronounced “cove”, as in “The Cove of Cork.”

Here is an informative and entertaining 5 minute documentary of Father Brown, his trip on the Titanic and subsequent achievements as a photographer.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Marantha House Six

near Blarney, County Cork

Continued…..The ground of Marantha House are a well appointed as the home, as you would expect from a luxury bed and breakfast on “Hydro Hill” also known as “Saint Ann’s Hill” close to Blarney, County Cork.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved