From Potato Famine to Coffin Ship

This is the first chapter, From Potato Famine to Coffin Ship, of my mom’s book on Nellie Cashman, Toughnut Angel:  The Tale of a Real Life Adventuress of the Old West. Nellie came over here from Ireland on what they called coffin ships, the conditions of which were so wretched, a lot of people died during the voyage–many families held funerals for them before they left. Then she made and gave away fortunes as a miner in the Old West, always helping her predominantly male miners with food and lodging.  Those fortunes helped build hospitals.  She was truly an amazingly strong and great woman. This book will make you laugh and cry–the whole world should know Nellie. This first chapter was just published in Irish American Cultural Institute’s Newsletter Issue No. 912 (available via email) –h/t Jane Baker

Here’s where the first chapter begins:

From Potato Famine to Coffin ShipBy Jane Carlile BakerNellie gawked. The giant sails bulged with the wind over the rotting ship docked at the Queenstown Wharf. The sails looked like the wings of a great bird preparing to fly. Maybe the English forced all these other Irish on the wharf to fly away to America, as they did her family.  She didn’t want to lose Mum in all these people. The masts, giant wooden poles that held up the sails, reminded her of those gigantic men who’d burst into their cottage two nights ago. The sun had set over their little farm just a few miles outside Midleton, and she and Fannie were sharing soda bread. “One for me, and one for you.”


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