A Journey to Ireland From Anaconda, Montana, America, 1898

The following excerpt is very descriptive, it contains names, and more importantly – it tells about life. It shows us how one travelled from the USA to Cork, then to Liverpool in England and then on to Belfast in Northern Ireland. It tells something of the trip home in 1898, the trip and the places visited take in 5 counties in Northern Ireland : Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Donegal and Tyrone. Yet, all the places were not too far apart, trvel from one to the other was easy. The parents went down to Dublin during the holiday. The attitudes of the ‘American’ to what he saw – it is a very descriptive piece of writing. I have highlighted surnames and placenames – and I hope that those who read this piece, regardless of connections to the surnames or places will learn or feel some of the excitement/anticipation as to the trip, and also learn something of life in Ireland back in the 1890’s. While this piece is specific to particular counties, the way of life was very similar in every other county.

Written James M. Devine in 1923. The account written by James Devine was in turn derived from an earlier written account composed by James Devine’s father Thomas Devine, born 1846.

“The year 1898 was also prosperous, but the sinking of the battleship U.S.S. Maine brought the threat of war and also more employment. With houses all rented, Mom and Papa decided on a big trip to the Land of their birth in the North of Ireland. So in May of 1898, they began making preparations for the trip overseas. New clothes were bought and two big trunks were purchased. Gifts were bought for relatives in Ireland. The day for leaving Anaconda was sometime at the end of June. Construction of Saint Peter’s Church at the corner of 4th Street and Alder Street was under way, with basement built and the cornerstone laid with the date 1898 on it.

Leaving Anaconda with us for the South of Ireland were Mr. KEHOE and two children, Eva and Rodger Kehoe. They were with us on the train and joined us on the ship the S.S. Germanic. We got aboard at some pier near 14th Street. I remember seeing our two big trunks being lowered down into the hold. The S. S. Germanic was a big up to date Ship for those days with two big black funnels and a very loud fog horn, which was used a little one foggy day. I guess she was of about 15,000 tonage. Everything was clean with an atmosphere of luxury. The food was very good, served on white tablecloths and napkins, with desert and fruit towards the end of the meals.

The weather was good and sunny. I got only a little seasick the 2nd day out. We met several other ships going westward and their passengers waved to us. We heard talk that war with Spain could start at any time. We saw our sailor with long field glasses looking at distant ships for their identity. One sailor had a strange metal device and I heard my mother ask him, “Was he going to use that to fight Spain.” They joked about it. The Germanic belonged to the White Star line. I remember my mother and Mrs. Kehoe feeling very jolly, while very few other women on board were seasick. My mother laughed and said, “I could eat a bear or a horse” just before supper.

It was a beautiful sunny morning as we came into the bay near Queenstown, now called Cobh. The little tender drew alongside of us and trunks were loaded on it, then we parted with the KEHOES and other friendly passengers. We went on with the Germanic to Liverpool, arriving there next morning after an 8-day pleasant voyage. We had a fairly early breakfast in a Liverpool restaurant, with bacon and eggs and pancakes on the menu.

Before getting breakfast, Papa had trouble with the customs men, who wanted to open and examine our trunks, which was unusual up to then. It was near the date of the Irish Rising of 1798, when Wolf Tone and Robert Emmett organized and struck a blow for Irish Freedom, which later failed. The British feared another Rising in 1898 and feared we had arms or ammunition in our trunks. My Father was a terrible man when he got angry and I remember his flashing eyes, as he told the customs men they would find themselves on their backs if they dared try to open the locks on those two trunks before he got the American Consul. With one powerful blow he knocked one of the customs men flat on his back. The other man retreated. The Irish on the dock cheered big Tom Devine’s response. The American Consul came and he had a consultation with Tom Devine, who assured him there were no firearms in the trunks. The Consul said let them open the trunks and save a lot of time and the getting of witnesses, etc. So my Father opened each lock and the customs men opened the lids and looked on the tops of the trunks then closed them again. The trunks and baggage were then taken to the Liverpool boat and the Devines dined again in an English restaurant.

We boarded the Liverpool boat late in the evening and sailed at night. We children slept on the cushion seats as my parents dozed on the seats near to us. We got into Belfast about 7AM. On the wharf as we landed was my mothers youngest sister Annie Kelly a 19 year old girl who recognized my Mother at once. We then had breakfast in BELFAST, then boarded a train for ARMAGH City. As I looked out the train window, I saw many goats tethered and grazing on the sides of hills. Being higher up than we were, they looked very tall to me. I asked my mother what they were? She replied goats and billygoats. I said they were bigger than cows or horses. Mother explained that they were smaller than cows of horses, but only looked big because they were up on a hill.

In less than 2 hours we were in ARMAGH City and soon on a jaunting car out to my Grandmother’s home 4 miles from Armagh. We got a warm greeting and kisses galore when we got to the end of the lane at the KELLY home at DRUMART. Aunt Belle’s daughter Maggie McCOO was there and she showed us around Drumart. There was a big pond in the front of the house, which ran in a narrow strip along the side of the lane to the main road for 250 yards. Then there was the well in front of the house with shade of a big maple tree leaning over it. A little streamlet ran from it, which carried the most cooling and clear water off a limestone bottom in Ireland. The pond usually had about 40 or 50 ducks swimming on it led by a big blue, white and green necked drake. Maggie then took us up to see the quarry and told us that was where the banshee cried the night before my grandfather James Kelly died about 1882. We saw the goats with the big white buck called Archie. One of the goats was slain to give us a feast. Billy KINGSBERY butchered the goat. We did not like the goats as they usually prodded you with their horns. The big buck Archie was more docile than the other goats. We watched the milking of the cows as my mother had milked our cow in Anaconda. (Note from trip by T. E. Devine to Ireland in June 1998. The residence at Battle Hill is located 3 miles from PORTADOWN near a stone bridge. The Chapel near Drumart is ANNACRAMPH Chapel.) After a few days at Drumart, we went by horse and cart to visit the Battle Hill farm, where my mother spent most of her youth with her Grandmother and Grandfather Owen Kelly. She showed us old pictures that were there when she was a young girl. She showed us the pewter plates on the old dresser that were in existence in 1640 and also an old chair that the Kelly’s had at the time of the battle of Benburb. She showed us the old orchard with crooked trees that the fairies played around. Most interesting to them, my Mother and Granduncle showed us the Old Forth in the center of a 1 and 1/2-acre field near the old residence. It seemed like a pile of stones with trees and holly bushes growing out of a mound of earth and stones. My Grand Uncle said the Fairies lived there many years ago. They still heard them singing and dancing around the old Forth about mid night according to old Parley MURPHY.

My mother went down the hill alone to surprise an old schoolmate. She knocked on the door and a voice replied “Who is there.” My Mother said, “Open the door and see.” What a pleasant surprise it was for Lizzie Reid to see her old schoolmate again after 9 years as Lizzie REID and Jenny KELLY met in a warm embrace.

We spent several days at the home of my mother with the Kelly’s of Drumart, LOUGHALL, Co. Armagh, where my aunts Minnie, Catherine, Bell and Annie and Uncle Thomas John seemed thrilled to have the Yankee kids and hear their American accents.

We then boarded the Great Northern train from Armagh City to DERRY to visit my Father’s sister Sarah Jane or Mrs. Daniel GALLIVAN. We got a warm welcome in Derry at the foot of Bishop Street. The Gallivans had four children then; Michael, Mary, Jenny and Tom, the biggest baby born in present day memory, said to be 19 lbs. at birth. My little sister then called him her fat poose. We did have kids to play with in Derry. I loved to sit upstairs and watch the Great Northern Locomotives shunting and making up trains. Their engines seemed much smaller than our big American hoggs. I think their fastest trains only went 25 miles per hour. They had no cowcatchers on front of the engines. The common bye word or cry then on the streets of Armagh and Derry was “Remember 98” and “Who fears to speak of 98” was the theme song of patriotic Ireland as I remember.

As a boy, I enjoyed Derry and the sights: The old Round Tower Church and the shrine of St. Columbkille, with the big stone with the two deep holes near St. Columbs statue, which I thought were made by St. Columbs knees, then Derry Walls and the big old black cannon which the besieged fired on ships coming up the river Foyle to capture the besieged City. One of the biggest old guns, which I sat on, was called Roaring Meg. Then there were the three big Arched gates leading inside the walls; Ferryquay gate, Shipquay gate and Bishop gate. It was interesting to walk along Derry wharf and see ships from Liverpool, Glasgow, Southampton, Holland, Norway and Sweden and sometimes from France and Spain. There were fishing boats and the big dredge with two big yellow funnels and also the two or three pleasure boats; Earl of Dunraven, Lady Clare and the Abbot Ross. One day I and my brother Tommy and Sister Katie and my Aunt Sarah Jane Gallivan and some of my cousins went for a pleasant sail on the Earl of Dunraven down the Foyle to the fishing town of Moville.

After seeing more sights in Derry like the Statue of Governor Walker and another one called the blackman, we prepared to visit the little town of CLAUDY, where my Aunt Catherine DEVINE was married to a big Claudy merchant named Michael DOHERTY. We made the journey of 10 miles by jaunting car. It was a long hilly road by horse and car and usually took over an hour and 10 minutes by mail car. I remember those long tedious rides. Soon after we landed in Claudy and met my Uncle and Aunt Catherine and the shopboys, we were shown around the big store and garden at the back. Then next, we were taken to visit the famous Browknowe. It was only about 300 yards from the little town of Claudy. Behind the big red fence were the buildings now composed of the big barn then the byre for stall-fed cattle, a big loose box building for cattle, a stable with two stalls and two loose boxes with windows and bars for the race horses. About 1780 and up into the 1800’s there was a nice dwelling in which lived the Maid of the Sweet BrowKnowe of whom the famous song was written. Her name was Betty SIMPSON, a beautiful maid whose lover’s name was Johnny. West of the buildings was the big Knowe that sloped up some 40 or 50 feet above the buildings. It contained 11 acres that were kept in pasture during the memory of the oldest people up to the dry summer of 1911, when it produced the biggest crop of oats in the district or county. The oats grew from 41/2 feet to 6 feet tall and a man standing in the crop could not be seen. It produced abundant crops of oats for three consecutive years yielding over 200 stone per acre in the first 2 years. In this big Browknowe field grazed 4 milk cows, two racehorses, two workhorses, a donkey named Biddy, several cattle and about 22 sheep. My big Uncle said to me, “Come Jimmy, I will show you a couple of nice horses.” In one loose box he introduced me to a black Beauty with a white blaze on her face. She was beautiful with a black silky coat and nayed modestly when we entered. She poked her nose around my Uncle’s pockets, then he gave her two white peppermint lozenges. She seemed quite a pet. My big Uncle Mike Doherty said, “Jimmy this is my pet ‘Fanny’, but her real name is ‘The Maid of the Sweet Browknowe’ and she has won many races and made lots of money for me.” In the next loose box we entered, we met the tall light bay horse almost a chestnut color. He was 16 hands 1 inch tall compared to the 14 hands tall Maid of the Sweet Browknowe. He was 8 years old, but still a good horse. My Uncle said “He beat some of the best horses in the world, including your Marcus DALY’S pride of Montana, the great ‘Tamanny’. We call him Pat, but his real name is ‘Hiawatha’ of USA stock and he too made lots of money for me.” Pat was nosing around big Mike’s pockets for lozenges and got them. Then, back on the Browknowe Hill we met ‘Biddy’ the donkey also looking for lozenges.

One of the most pleasing ways to amuse us kids was giving us a ride in the donkey cart. An old native Claudy man took us for rides day after day. He was 60 years old or more and his name was Phil Feeney. He would bring the cart to the door with Biddy hitched up. My Aunt Catherine Doherty provided us with sandwiches and arrowroot cookies and a few bottles of lemonade. Old Phil preferred a couple of bottles of porter. He took us all round the Fir Glen Road and we stopped with people who were delighted to meet the Yankee kids and hear their American accent. My older brother Tommy talked much and people loved to hear him and asked questions about America.

Sometime in August the great Rising of 1798 was to be celebrated in DUBLIN. My Father and Mother and my Uncle Mick Doherty had planned to attend. Over a thousand from Derry planned to attend. I remember the three of them leaving Claudy in a horse and trap for the Great Northern R. R. Station in Derry as we kids stood on the Street in Claudy and waved to them. After leaving Derry, the train went through Dungannon and stopped at Portadown. It seems the Orangemen had gathered there in a large number. When the train stopped the passengers received a bombardment of stones, brickbats and bottles. Half of the windows in the train were broken and many passengers received injuries during the 12-minute stop. The Portadown authorities did nothing to prevent the bombardment.

My Father and Mother had a happy time in Dublin as bands played Irish airs; ‘God Save Ireland’, ‘Who Fears To Speak Of 98’, and ‘The Boys of Wexford’ and many rousing speeches were delivered. In the meantime we children had a happy time in Claudy riding with Phil Feeney in the donkey carton picnics. We played much with the REIDS and ROBINSONS boys and some of the LACEY’S.

Father and Mother returned in a week so we had plans to visit my Father’s old home at the LOCKS on the STRABANE Canal where my Great Grandfather had been Superintendent for some 40 years. So one nice day we left Claudy by jaunting car and took the Donegal R.R. train to BALLYMAGORRY near STRABANE. Uncle Bernard DEVINE’S jaunting car met us at Ballymagorry Station. They drove us for a mile through Ballymagorry village and GREENLAW until we were at the Locks. It was the first time we saw locks on a canal. My father was practically raised there by his Grandmother after his own mother died, so he knew all about the Locks. In those days there was much traffic on the canal going to and from Derry and Strabane. The canal boats were some 50 feet long and 9 feet wide. They hauled grain, barrels of liquor, oil, food supplies and all kinds of packages and cost less than railroad transportation. I marveled at and was puzzled at one horse on the towpath hauling 4 and 5 boats loaded. At times the horse must have been hauling 80 tons. The worst pull was getting the boats started. Once started it seemed easy and they went right along. The locks were always a puzzle to me then seeing how opening the sluice could make the boat rise higher between the two gates. It was fun to open and close the gates to let the boats pass through.

My Uncle Barney’s wife was a nice tall kind person, but seemed at least 10 years older than her husband. She was a schoolteacher and very neat and clean. Uncle Barney had two children, Katie and Tom. Katie was over 20 and married to Tom CHRISTY. Tom was younger and would not stay in college. He wanted to work around the Locks and on the farm with horses. Both Katie and Tom were the children of Barney’s first wife. Miss FLANAGAN, his second wife, never had any children. She was a good cook and gave us very good meals with white table cloth and napkins on the table when we dinned at the Locks.

After several days at the Locks, we went by train to KILLYGORDON and the farm at MULLINGAR (Donegal) where my Father lived with his father and Stepmother before he came to America. So my Father’s half brother, my Uncle Mick Devine and his wife were now the proprietors of the farm at Mullingar. They had two sons Tom and Barney, who was about my age. We had lots of fun with these two Devine children. They had lots of poultry, hens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. I did not like the geese, mostly because of the unfriendly gander who came at you hissing. I tried to kick him but he bit my legs and tried to beat me with his wings.

My Mother was just a couple of years younger than Mrs. Ellen Devine so they had much in common and lots of fun together, especially with my brother Tommy, who had funny sayings for a little boy of 7 1/2 years old. I loved to ride the jaunting car at Killygordon to the Chapel at the crossroads chiefly because of my Uncle Mick’s smooth fast trotting horse.

After the pleasant time at Killygordon beside the beautiful FINN Valley, we returned to Claudy for another fine time of outings in the donkey cart. I used to go to the field with Phil FEENEY to get Biddy the donkey. I could not lay a hand on her to pet her; neither could Phil if he did not have some oats in a pail. He had to let her munch some of the oats before bringing forth the bridle from his back to place the bit in Biddy’s mouth. They called the bridle there ‘the winkers’ because of the shields on each side of the animal’s face so she could not see from side to side. We had the same lemonade and arrowroot biscuits and Frys Chocolate as we had a few weeks before. We enjoyed the friendly people of Claudy and the Reid kids, the Robinsons and the Lacy boys. After this joyful time at Claudy we made another visit to the Locks on the banks of the Strabane Canal. We stayed about a week at the Locks. From the Locks we visited our cousin Katie Christy who was married to Tom Christy at GLENMORNING. Another day we visited the old Devine home at WOODEND, where so many Devine’s had been born for three generations. The owner then was Denis Devine a brother of my grandfather and a son of Edward Devine and Sarah HEGARTY who died in 1876 at age 95 and 1/2 years. Denis Devine was the only member of my Grandfather’s family of sixteen that I ever saw. He was in ill health sitting in a big armchair and not talking much. He was after having a stroke and seemed like well over 70 years old. He died four years later. I saw his wife then and she lived on to about 1909. She was a niece of Dr. McLOUGHLIN, Bishop of Derry. I remember my Mother talking to Denis Devine and bidding him farewell. The next day we visited my Mother’s home at TAMNACRUM towards CASTLEFINN. We also visited Mother’s cousin at RABBSTOWN the same time. At Tamnacrum, my Mother’s cousin John J. Kelly was probably there, although I don’t remember him, but his sister Maggie and Lizzie Kelly were there. And two were brought in to entertain us from the neighborhood and I remember them both singing ‘McNamara’s Band’ as someone played the violin and the then popular song about the racing dog Master McGraw.

It was about the end of the harvest time then, and I saw the reaper at work at Claudy and at the Locks. Many rabbits ran out from the oats as the reaper came closer and the men and women tying up the sheaves of oats. Doherty’s little terrier dog chased the rabbits as they came out of the standing oats. She was close to one that came out and gave it a close chase up to the rabbit hole. I was very disappointed when the rabbit got into the hole and old Phil Feeney said I “Gave one roar that could have woke a dead man.”

We stayed in Claudy until about a week before our departure back to the USA. We were due to sail from MOVILLE on the 15th of October on the S. S. State of Nebraska. My father and Mother when in Armagh a few weeks before learned of the desire of my Aunts Isabell and Annie to emigrate to the USA. The Gallivan family about 1st October moved from the foot of Bishop Street to a newer home at Stanley’s Walk, which seemed a nice place. We went into Derry two days before our sailing. They were barely settled then, but had beds arranged for all of us. I was surprised to see my Aunts Isabell and Annie there, and more surprised to learn they were coming with us to the USA and on to Anaconda. Gallivan’s house was full of friends and relatives who came there on the eve of our sailing to bid us farewell and all seemed sorry to see us leave. The next day, I remember my cousin tying a religious medal around my neck with tears in his eyes. In a few hours we would be boarding the tender for Moville.