Fleeing poverty in their occupied country, between 1815 and 1845 one million Irish left Ireland— including my family, the Hoys. What truly beggars belief, however, is the horror that came next—the Famine.Share
In six short years, one out of every eight Irish people starved to death. Between 1845-1851, another million Irish left or were expelled from their native soil. The statistics are astounding. By 1880, Ireland’s population had decreased 30%—a loss unequaled in modern European history.
How Patrick Hoy Escaped
Like the majority of his countrymen, Patrick Hoy was a laborer, toiling the soil and doing odd jobs. He worked for another, and paid rent out of meager wages. Patrick married Catharine, and raised a son, Patrick, born in 1833. Very likely his family lived in a single room windowless mud-and-stone hut.
Somehow, by age 33 Patrick had saved enough to escape with his young family to the New World. In 1836, before the famine was ever imagined, they probably went by way of Dublin to Liverpool, England, one of the main ports to gain passage to America.
The Hoy’s Atlantic passage would have cost between 3-5 pounds; an entire year’s wages to get to America, plus what it cost to get from Dublin to Liverpool.
In Liverpool, the Hoy family would have next had to pass a medical exam certifying that they were free of contagious disease. Then, within a day or so, they boarded the Dalmatia, at Liverpool’s Waterloo dock.
The Dalmatia, a sailing ship of 358 tons, with room for about 150, had George Winsor, Jr. as Master. As this was before the famine, the ship was probably well-built and equipped, and provided a safe journey.
The Hoys’ fellow passengers in steerage on the Dalmatia hailed from Wales, Germany, Scotland, England, and Ireland. They were prepared to work in America; occupations on the Dalmatia’s manifest were listed as laborer, blacksmith, shoemaker, millwright, domestic, tailor....(Read more.)