Great Blasket, Kerry, 9pm, The Fisherman

Black and white print depicting rural irish girl in The Gael magazine June 1904
© Dublin City Public Libraries

Dan was weary; he didn't know whether it was the long hard days of summer fishing and farm work that caused it, or just the sadness in his heart. He sat on a rock looking out over the ocean towards the west, to America where his five living children were; three in Springfield and two in Boston. It had been the departure of the last one, young Peig, that had broken her mother's heart and, in Dan's opinion, put her into the grave in the cold weather just after Christmas. It had been hard enough to lose one to the sea and two others as babies, buried up at Rinn an Chaisleáin, but to have all the remaining ones leave had been too much for his poor wife's spirit. But the money from the children was what kept food on the table and clothes on their backs, and what right had he to stop his children getting a chance in life? They certainly had little chance here, on this bleak island where he had scraped a living for all of his fifty years. And they had done the best they could for the children, making sure that they learnt good English so they could make their way in the world.

He squinted down towards the harbour; a naomhóg was coming in. It was late to be out. The woman walking down to greet the fishermen was surely Cáit, Séan Ó Suilleabháin's wife, with her new baby Muiris, born just last February. Had they been out fishing this late or over at Dingle for the market? He might go in to Dingle himself for the next one, for he would need a new pair of boots before next winter. Maybe he would go into the town for St John's Eve, when the bonfires would be lit on the hills and there might well be dancing in the town.

He stood up and made his way down towards the Ó Criomhthain's house. Tomás was a good friend and there might be stories or a bit of music. He hadn't been down there since the postman had been to the island; there might be a letter from America from one of the Ó Criomhthain brood, which might even carry some news of his own children in it.

© Dublin City Public Libraries

Advertisement for MacKenzie & Co. travel agent in the Evening Telegraph, 1904
© Dublin City Public Libraries

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