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Subject: [Irish Genealogy] Cork, "The Harbour of Tears," and the "Odessa " - 1851
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2011 10:30:48 +0000 (UTC)
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SNIPPET: Millions of Irish emigrants fell victim to uncaring politicians, inhuman landlords, brutal crews, ruthless brokers, dockside racketeers, corrupt ship owners, and land agents in London, all who stood to profit from the famine in Ireland. Yet, there are stories of safe crossings, heroism, and kindness toward Irish emigrants on their way to a new life across the seas.

In all Ireland, no one had suffered more throughout the Famine than the inhabitants of Patrick CROTTY's home county of Cork. The town of Skibbereen witnessed the very first blights and starvation, and the first of the British Government's soup kitchens. The Famine graves were dug beside a ruined Cistercian cell and attracted pilgrimages for more than a hundred years.

Cork's great natural harbour at Cove, named Queenstown since 1848, was know as the "Harbour of Tears," as it was the site of many anguished goodbyes as floods of emigrants left for America during the Famine years. The River Lee flows out of the cove through the former wetlands and swampy marshes to Cork (Gaelic "Corcaigh" meaning marsh) and divides to enclose an island right in the heart of the city. The island itself, and the opposing banks of the North South Channels, provide 22 quays, at one of which the "Odessa" was tied on August 19, 1851. Beyond the city, the river meanders through woods and water meadows and just to the north stands Blarney Castle, built four centuries earlier and home of the ever-famous Blarney Stone.

The ship's list of 142 passengers shows that Mary O'NEILL sailed alone with her four daughters, one being new-born Catherine. There were 30 children under the age of ten aboard, plus two dozen teenagers four of whom were the MURPHY girls traveling without parents, and nine young families traveling without husbands or fathers. By 1851, this pattern of family travel was increasingly common as few families could afford to travel with all its members and often the mothers were widowed. The oldest men on board were Pat BARRY and William ROCKEY, both age 50 and traveling alone. A 20-year-old bachelor, Simon CROTTY, Patrick's younger brother, was one of the passengers.

The "Odessa," a veteran of many Atlantic crossings was 99 feet long, weighed 323 tons, was built in New Brunswick, Canada and owned by William CARSON, Dublin's foremost shipping merchant and Dublin was her home port. She arrived in Cork with her old sea captain, Henry SELLY, and Dublin-hired crew including his usual mate, Eddie DEMPSEY, the bosun, William DENSTOW, ship's carpenter, and James KELLY, the cook - all experienced seaman. Records show that DEMPSEY was paid 2 pounds 10 shillings a month with a bonus on return, while ordinary seamen received 1 pound 5 shillings. The crew was also guaranteed a good solid meal every day during the voyage. In addition, a dozen Irishmen, four Englishmen, and American and a Canadian had been hired for the trip.

>From existing "Agreement For Foreign Going Ship" records stored in London, on the last day Patrick CROTTY of Cork was hired as "passengers cook" for the one-way journey, even though he had never been to sea before and was not an apprentice seaman. He was also advanced his pay, a shilling, (25 cents in 1851) upon swearing to "conduct himself in an orderly, faithful, honest and sober manner" and be diligent in his duties. One could speculate that the captain took pity on young Patrick so that he could accompany his brother.

On arrival in New York on September 29th, Patrick was discharged, according to the crew roll, free to start a new life with his brother, Simon - Capt. SELLY having once again brought his ship and human cargo safely to port.

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