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Letters To / From USA

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From Carloviana
The Journal of the Old Carlow Society

Vol 1 No: 2. January 1948
Letters From America
Contributed by
Miss T. Kelly

The warm reception was given to the first collection of " Letters from America," published in the first number of this Journal, has encouraged us to present, some further extracts from the correspondence of Lewis Doyle, a native of Clonegal, addressed to John Doyle of " The Hill," Pollerton Little, his first cousin. These extracts reflect the writer's deep love for Ireland, his fierce resentment at her misgovernment during the hungry years of the eighties, and throw some light on the numbers of Carlow people who emigrated after the great famine. It is hoped that the publication of these letters may lead to the discovery of other such expressions of what has been so well described a "the voice of the authentic exile".


To: John Doyle
"The Hill,"
Pollerton Little
Carlow
Ireland

Kilkenny, Le Sueur County, Minn,

August 17th, 1873

Dear Cousin, Your letter of March 9th was received in due time but as I had nothing to say in answer to it I delayed writing until now. Myself and family are all well at present. I hear from my friends in Michigan pretty often. Had a letter a few days ago from John's eldest son, John - his children are all good scholars. Mother is well and has had as much comfort during the last twenty years as any old person can well have. Tim, the youngest, who was born 18 months before we left Ireland, is not married yet. He is captain of a large tug sailing between Detroit and Saginaw and gets 1,200 dollars a year. He was home on a visit a short time ago and looks tip-top. Like myself I believe he is not of a saving disposition or he could be wealthy. I do not know, as I have not seen any of the rest except Mother, Bridget and Tom in 18 years. Will try to go and see them next winter and take one of my little ones that she may get learning that she may be able to teach school when she grows up.

My sister Ann (in religion Mary Ignatius) is in Monree at present. Between them all they will probably take charge of the child and see that she is educated without much cost to me. My wheat and oats is cut, part of it in stooks, and part in the stacks. Mine is a very good quality but will be light yield because I ploughed the wheat in with a two-horse plough and smothered nearly half the seed. Corn, potatoes and all other growing crops look well. I had twelve acres of wheat and oats and cut it with the cradle. The children bound and stooked it so that I had time to cut for other people at $3 per day. On the prairie, binding after the reapers, good hands got 31 dollars per day. The harvest in this State is about over but it is nearly all to be stacked. Large farmers stack their grain in the fields where it grew and some of them thresh and haul their grain to the market at the same operation. One old fellow not far from here sows 2,000 acres of wheat each year and cuts and threshes and sells it as fast as men and teams can do it, after it is ripe.

You asked to know if there are any Carlow people here. There is a son of old Wat. Rice of Carlow living about 12 miles from me. His name is George and is well off. He has four boys and a girl. Another man, Terry Dobbins, from the parish of Drumfay lives between here and Le Sueur and is very glad to see me every time I pass by his place. Another is John Doyle from near Castledermot who is my next door neighbour. He knew every place about Carlow and I think lived in sight of Bruen's demesne. Several families are living in this town - ship from Wexford and Kilkenny, but I knew none of them in Ireland. George Rice says he and his folks lived in Pittsburgh before he came to Minnesota and the city is full of Carlow men and they have some of the best offices in the city. Last 4th of July I met him in St. Peter's. I was obliged to go home with him (7 short miles this side of town). He took an 8 gallon keg of beer in his wagon and you may judge we did not sleep much that night.

Lewis Doyle.


Source: Carloviana. January 1947. Vol 1. No. 1. p. 25

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