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The Irish in America - Violet's story
Published Mar 18, 2012


Written By

oldmember_lucianna88

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A story in honor of Saint Patricks day :) ...

In present day New York a young girl by the name of Rosie Delaney visits her Grandmother- the aging Mother of her late Father.

This she does every Wednesday evening for two hours while her Mother attends yoga class and her brothers go to soccer practice. Her Grandmother has just returned from visiting a friend in Boston and hasn't yet had the chance to unpack.

"That's a dang old suitcase you got there Grammy'' the curious little voice announces suddenly, having noticed the suitcase in the livingroom she carefully examines it with her eyes.

The old leather scent is present even yet.

A story in honor of Saint Patricks day :) ...

In present day New York a young girl by the name of Rosie Delaney visits her Grandmother- the aging Mother of her late Father.

This she does every Wednesday evening for two hours while her Mother attends yoga class and her brothers go to soccer practice. Her Grandmother has just returned from visiting a friend in Boston and hasn't yet had the chance to unpack.

"That's a dang old suitcase you got there Grammy'' the curious little voice announces suddenly, having noticed the suitcase in the livingroom she carefully examines it with her eyes.

The old leather scent is present even yet.

"That old thing?'' her Grandmother laughs, sitting down. ''Young lady, that dang old suitcase has been with me ever since the day I came to this country"

"Back then'' she continues, ''I had very little posessions to fill it with, but nonetheless, I dragged it onto ships, trains, through immigration, everywhere I went on my journey here to America that old case accompanied me on my travels''
"Huh?" Rosie questions, a little confused, ''you didn't always live here in New York, grammy?"

She steps closer, eager to hear more, ''weren't you born here, like me?".

"No. No dear, I wasn't" she answers. An old sadness overcomes her. "I was born in Ireland, which is very far away from New York. A whole world away.

Many thousands, eventually millions, of Irish people immigrated to this big city in the past. People from every corner of the earth in fact.

I was just one of them. I was just a little younger than you are now when I arrived here. As cliche as it sounds- I remember it all like it was just yesterday...."
"It was a quiet late April morning in 1938 when we left Ireland. We'd sold almost everything we had to pay for our tickets. We set out for Limerick wearing the best clothes that we owned, that's where we would board the boat. We walked there to save money. It was just short of 14 miles, but we were determined.

My Father was already out there, in Brooklyn. He'd found work as a construction worker and was to meet us at Ellis Island when we arrived in America, and there we would all be together again.

We took a last look around, at the grey roads, at the clothes hung out to dry across the streets, at everything we'd ever been used to. After that we didn't look back again. We were en route to a new life"
Our ship was called the Valentina Joy, we were told she would take about 7 weeks to reach America, perhaps more depending on the weather.

We were steerage passengers, that means we were the lower class, the people who travelled at the very bottom of the ship- literally. We were allowed out on the lower deck for an hour per day for fresh air.
Steerage was cramped, people got sick, often we were cold and the boredom was unbearable at times. We had bunk beds on which to sleep and a table in the middle of the floor where we told stories and played dominoes, and of course ate our meals- rice, rice and more rice. Above us the upper class passengers resided.

My Mother told me it was wrong to be jealous of the things they had. If I wanted to live like them one day then I could, but I had to work hard. In our new country I could be anything I want to be, as long as I was willing to earn it.

So I looked forward to my future, I dreamed big, I hoped nothing would spoil my plans.
To pass the time I would read, everything and anything that I could get my hands on. We passengers were practically running our own little library down in steerage, we'd read a book and pass it on to someone else and they would do the same.

Those of us who could read would read stories to those who couldn't. I have fond memories of those times, us immigrants supported one another, we became friends; friends all travelling on the same journey in search of a new life. I often wonder what became of them all once they reached New York and we all went our separate ways...
One dull day in Mid June I was on the deck lost in my thoughts, that's when I saw it.

In the distance, small and blurry, far away but beaconing, yet unmistakable.

I yelled for the others.
I'd caught my first glimpse of Lady Liberty.

It was then that I knew we were close.
My Mother clasped my hands in hers and we smiled at one another.

"That's the Lady with the torch that I told you about!" she said, "we're almost here, Violet. Daddy will be waiting for us and we'll get to see all the tall buildings and have a walk in central park, just like I told you we would. Here we are. Here we are, at long last."



We all looked on in awe as the Statue of Liberty grew bigger and bigger in front of our eyes.

Soon we were told to go back to steerage and prepare our luggage- we were approaching Ellis Island.
Hundreds of immigrants entered Ellis Island each day in its height, we knew it would be a long wait in the gangway. A very long wait.

It didn't matter. It didn't matter that it was raining like a monsoon either. We were here now and there was no going back, surely.

I danced in the rain with another immigrant child, his name was Yoel, we didn't speak the same language but again it didn't matter. We were but two children waiting on the same path, our goals and aspirations ahead of us and our long boat journey behind us.
I was so happy in that moment.

Nothing was going to ruin this feeling. Nothing.

...Or was it?

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9 Comment(s) so far


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#1rosenoire87Mar 18, 2012

I really enjoyed this, so touching... Very well written as well. 

#2RennaraMar 19, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day....very nice tribute.  I look forward to more (imagine a four leaf clover\;\)

#3BBKZMar 19, 2012

I absolutely love this story \:\) Please, make more chapters! \:\)

#4starsky524Mar 19, 2012

Lovely story! I reallyhope we get another chapter soon!

#5fabrizioammolloMar 20, 2012

Lovely! This is the beginning of a beautiful story! \:rah\:

#6s_sunna90Mar 20, 2012

one: brilliant story fun to read and promises a very intersting next chapter or few
two: where did you get the dress she wore as a child? its just so adorable!

#7maurieMar 26, 2012

Nice story. I love the "immigrant song'.\:cool\:

#8annabel_leeMar 31, 2012

I love this story!!! \:\)

#9meraveApr 9, 2012

Very interesting. Will there be another chapter?

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