Early 1900s penny postcard showing lower falls, Brunswick, Maine.
Early 1900s penny postcard showing lower falls, Brunswick, Maine.

Waterfalls and spruce trees, grandmother’s
First childhood memories of Maine, Irish
Immigrants, tenant farmers, potatoes and
Granite, land clearing, moving rocks, wall
Building, back-breaking work, dawn to dusk,
Long summer days, brutal winters, family
Roots since we landed in Bangor 1885.

We were not alone, Irish came by hundreds,
Escaping famine and sickness, Kavenaghs
And Fitzgearlds, on sailing ships and screw
Steamers, laborers and farmers, coopers,
And house maids, children at their sides,
New life in Maine despite discrimination,
Taking worse jobs for housing and for food.

My grandmother recalled how Irish immi-
Grants were attacked for being Catholic,
Churches burned in which we held services,
We had no chapels of our own. Undaunted,
Priests held services in barns or at open
Wagons, we provided our own religious icons,
Crucifix or statue of Blessed Mother Mary. 

By turn of 20th century, many of us saved
Enough, becoming established farmers and
Merchants, accomplishments made through
Hard work, against adversity, we acquired
Wealth and respect in manufacturing and
Industry, from Portland to Bangor, we looked
After our own, newly arriving Irish immigrants.

As decades passed, I’m a grandmother now,
Maine Irish heritage surpassing 150 years.
As with my grandmother, waterfalls and
Spruces still occupy my heart and mind,
Rock-cleared fields, rambling farms, crops
And cattle, we are Mainers now, accents
And hearts strong over gathering years. 

If you visit Maine and pass weathered walls
Of hand-laid granite stone or farms of waving
Wheat, those first accomplishments did not
Occur using heavy equipment, tractors and
Trucks like those used today. By daily progress
They were built, Irish men and women who
Gave their lives to farms, family, and to Maine.

Click here for a brief slideshow on Irish immigrants by
Maine Historical Society.

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