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Irish Famine Refugees


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Some spelling has been corrected to make these easier to read. Care was taken not to change the content or meaning. The page was torn, and words shown in parenthesis ( ) were added .

Rediscovered April 1987, Cambridge. MA

Thomas Harney and Family
Dear Beloved . . .
I am grieving as I am writing to inform you of your beloved uncle, aunt, cousins and nieces deaths.
They all went to their maker together when the ship sank in the storm of Thursday past
(or last). There were no survivors to the tragedy. Members of some ten and seven families were lost.
You are
(aware) I know of the great numbers that have been lost the last year or more. We remember in our prayers all who have helped us in our need and will continue to do so.

In sorrow for your sorrow, I am Finbar Dyer
(1848)   The Bay

Side 2

(There are others) who must be told too.
Some) of the Marylanders are affected too.
Lord have mercy on them.

(Morris?) carries this and Ben Nolan, to Wicklow, then to Manchester.

"Father Finbar" is mentioned in other letters.

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HARNEY LETTER #18 , dated 12 March 48 (1848)

Dinny have no lernin in ritng but he try to tell us the word of the brig whut wint down in Feb. All but four was lost we thinks. The tinkers bring me this at Fetard a day ago. Souls need prayin and Masses now.

Shamus & Patk Kelly at Bantry Bay

Dinny's letter with spelling corrected to make it readable. Original was in block capital letters, spelled phonetically.

To Owen Harney and Donal and Tom

Me I'm writing to let you know that we was wrecked off the 7 Heads [County Cork, Ireland] lately and some of us is still alive. We was out for the Channel to meet the big boat at the Islands. They was 10 and 6 on board when we hit the rock and we was holed at the bow. The mizzen came down and line. We took on water too fast. We sunk at the rock and some went to God. Dan Fennel and H . . . made the rock. Bannin and Kiley made the rock too but being in other end and they could pull in Collins and McAuliffe? and Burke but we lost the priest and others We spent 2 days on rock till Mar. . came and got us in the currach and took us in. Dinny (probably Dennis)

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Spelling has been corrected to make it readable.  Original letter was in block capital letters and spelled phonetically as follows:


. ... and I'd no idea you'd be to Boston this year or I would have gone to the docks to have a speak with you.

Tom Harney had us to visit with his family along with Felony and Keefe and we tried to tell what we knew of them what we got here. We then went over to Boston at them docks [near] A Street and Finnegan and Will Finucin came to the house what them Mulroys and O'Neils is at.

We [He?] says we must put down them things what we know to be so, then them what need the knowing can find where the lost ones is at. Noni Divine came in too as she can tell of some of them what got here went to. We don't at all remember where they sent them O'Connells or them Ryan or Michaels that was relatives of Glyn. But we thinks that if you went to them clay ovens at West Cambridge you could ask for Nell Dignan, she what broke her teeth when she fell on the windlass. She works there for an agent at the kiln and does cipher and counts bricks at the ovens. She told Con O'Mara where of his sister and cousins that went off to the north to Lowell to millwork. [It was common to call your sister's sons cousins, instead of nephews]. She knows mostly all them children what come on that voyage and who some is relative of. When I seen her at Mass Sunday she talked about them what come aboard with her and where some has went since we left them at Lechmeme Point a full 2 years gone. I saw Mary Galvin and Bridget McNulty at St. John's too, but they hurried off to where they works as kitchen girls. If you were to get them they might be knowing.

I seen Galty Felony at a stable by Porter House and he knew of some of them other ones too. Himself is a hostler's apprentice and wears livery when he drives hearse or coach somewhat to funerals and wagon for hire and he says he sees several of them that came on that voyage with him. He tells me that many that came was relative to the Harney family. But them 8 and 20 what we put in them wagons was nameless orphans that Dan MacReady and Matt Donnelan brought from Mayo or John Shine and Will Riley or Tim Healy brought from Athlone and other places like Connaught or Tyrone.

But you've got to relaize that when there's ever a hundred at camp, its mighty near a miracle to sort out one from an other. Tis a great change I see in them, these 2 years have made in them. I should be hard put to know some of them wee ones if I see them. I and the rest of us has told all this to Tom [Harney] and his family and they could tell you more.

As what the writing tell, I has more comfort with a ratline or marlin spike to hand than ever with a quill or slate. I have wrote more now than ever in my life before and I've a wish that I knew of the spell of the words, but some there are who'd know not the way of the letters even. You might remember the sound when they is said, and I have hope that you will find your family.

You will not soon forget when we took on that great crowd in the night in Oct 1840 and how they was like worms on a dead hare crawling everywhere on ship-board and content to be there no matter what lie ahead. There was near 200 souls aboard and we lost but 3 and 20 on the voyage.

Them what we remember is named on the other side.

Side 2

Yor - (York?) Henry - Tes - 1 child  - Sand Bank - Mount Auburn
Norton -  Brady -  Caril -  Stone   } All is went to Brighton with children, some is orphans.             We thinks they has   3 and 20.
Molloy - Nan - John
Malone - with the E sound
Mulhearn - 2 and 1 baby
Mulligan - Sara and 2 babies
Mulligan - 3 wee ones
Maning - 5, Dan - Liz - 3 children
Corkre - 3 -  2 children, mom
Dugin - 7 - 4 children -  3 older
MacCormick - 6 -  3 older -  3 children
Kelly - Matt - John - Lizzie - 4 children
Fitzgerald - Mike - Mom - 5 children -  3 children to Manchester
Murphy - Dan - Tim - Kate - 4 children -  2 children to Manchester
Murphy - Pat - Mag- 2 children
Murphy - Jim - Peg - 3 children
Sullivan - Paul - Meg - 2 children
Sullivan - Mikey - Mary - 2 children here, 1 died at sea
McCormick - 8, Dan - Kate - 4 children, 2 died at sea
[Dorsey?] - Tommy - Sheila - 2 children - 2 children died.  They took 3 or 4 orphans with them at Boston.

Shea - Dan - Mary - 1 child
Collins - Bridie - 2 children - widow.
Dardis - Mamie - widow - took 3 children to Cambridge
Divine - Con - Kate - 4 children. Took 2 orphans- Cambridge.
King - Andy - Nora - 4 children. Took 2 orphans with Celia Devlins 2 children to cattle pens in Brighton at the feed yard. Nelon - Mat - widow - 4 sons - 1 daughter, to Brighton too. And we thinks that he has 2 or 3 other orphans.

O'Keefe - Pat - Tim - Daniel - Will - Jamey All of them is bespoke to some girls on the voyage and took them with some orphans. Daniel and Jamey to work as drovers at the pens.

Healy - Mike - Nora - 3 children, but 1 was dead at sea, another died when they came here - to Mount Auburn with 3 or 4 other children.

Regan - Mat - Dolly - her is Carlins daughter. 2 children - Mat and Mary, and took 2 more orphans - to Clay Bank.

Sam Naylin [Nelon/Neelon?] says he put 8 and 80 off at Lechmere Point in that year but as it is near 10 years gone now we knows nothing of them. He came over twice each year since then and has let off more than hundred every time. Steve O'Neil and Tom Casey say the same, so there must be near a thousand hereabout what was brought in. There's many a nameless one in the town what knows nothing of where they was born. Father Finbar tried to keep count of them but there's too many to count for certain. Dan Lynch might have a word with you when he comes with this. Could you give over to Father Doherty at St. John's Church, for him to learn some of them names.

I'm away for Kerry by week-end if all is well.

Petr Roak

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The old Harney Letters were found in the attic of an old Harney home in Cambridge, MA, by Edward F. "Ted" Harney, who now lives in Billerica, MA

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