Journey to Ellis Island - Day Two

Today we stopped at Queenstown at Cork Harbor in the south of Ireland. If you go looking for Queenstown, Ireland on the map, you won’t find it. It was once called Cove, then changed to Queenstown when Queen Victoria visited Ireland in 1849. When Ireland became free in 1922 they changed it back to Cove, but spelled it in the original Gaelic spelling of Cobh. It’s pronounced “Cove.” I think they just spell it “Cobh” to confuse people.

At Queenstown we took aboard mail and more steerage passengers. Over fifty people were added to our already crowded conditions. Many are just going to America to make money to send back home. Of those, many will decide to stay. The Potato Famine may be in the past, but Ireland is still suffering from crushing poverty. It won’t be until the late 20th century that she will really prosper.

Between 1820 and 1920 nearly four and a half million Irish immigrated to America. Perhaps it is fitting that the first person through Ellis Island was a fifteen year old Irish girl named Annie Moore. She left from this very same port. Just last year, in 1892, she arrived with her two little brothers to meet her parents already in America. There is a statue of her at Cobh and one at Ellis Island today, in remembrance of all the Irish immigrants.

Statues of Annie Moore: Left at Cobh and right at Ellis Island

I heard one Cockney complaining about our new guests. Later I saw the same man smiling and tapping his foot to an impromptu Irish band, made of a tin whistle, concertina and fiddle. A couple of young Irish girls, and a spry old one, got up and did jigs. Our Cockney was not the only one smiling. It did make the crowded deck seem less dreary.

We are now pulling away from the Irish coast and headed into the Atlantic Ocean. Next stop: New York Harbor.

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