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The Hagerty's of County Kerry, Ireland

This story, and one about the Enright family, were discovered in an old family bible, says contributor Kathleen Doyle. Her family surmises they were written after May 1921, but before 1934, by Daniel Enright.

The most western land of Europe is in County Kerry, Ireland and the extreme point extending into the Atlantic is Valentia - a small island which formerly no doubt was part of the main land and was separated there by the surging tides of countless centuries. The western coast of Ireland is the first line of defense against the warring waters in a stretch of three thousand miles and the scare of the ever persevering enemy are abundantly evident in the broken and irregular coast line where the surge and wave of the angry billows ever play a mournful dirge in the rocky caverns of its veteran cliffs.

The country in this section is weird and romantic. Beautiful lakes, mountains, and streams-magnificent landscapes- wonderful and varied vegetation - different tropical plants grow spontaneously in the glens and dales, a peculiar fact for the latitude of Ireland but the Gulf stream tempers the winter winds of Erin and in gratitude she poses in her mantle of green, hence when the travelers tell me that the Lakes of Killarney and surroundings are equal to any beautiful scenery in Europe - I am inclined to believe that they are stating facts.

Many evidences are still intact that lead us to believe that this remote corner of the country has been the home of different races of people at various times in ages past so we are inclined to assume - they were a very cosmopolitan race when they emerged from the fogs of medieval times. They were strongly blended with the militaristic of tile early Christian times. Out of this blend has developed a wonderful and peculiar race - a combination of characteristics seldom found in others. Patriotic and persevering, brave and enduring, sympathetic and hospitable - always spiritually hopeful and by nature extremely faithful to God - their family and country. Being endowed with a strong spirituality - this with their remoteness from the outer influences of the barbarian horde there amid their utopian environment semi-consciously prepared their souls for the reception of God which they so readily acknowledged when St. Patrick brought the message of salvation. It seem as though the hand of Divine Providence had prepared a repository wherein to safely preserve the seeds of faith from contamination or perhaps total destruction during the Conquest of ensuing centuries.

There is no record of a race of people more thoroughly and truly converted to the Christian Doctrine than the Irish - and without torch or sword they seemed to have anticipated the personal God and in due time when the chalice of salvation was offered theirs, they not only grasped it for the moment but for all times and have clung to it with a never diminishing tenacity through centuries of persecution, famines and plagues. Through golden days and lean years - always philosophical and hopeful - never forgetting the Divine Master in their troubles and misfortunes but ever reconciled to His Divine Decree and praising His Holy Name - through happy smiles or scalding tears. God's will was their supreme law. Oh! For such a faith. They not only accepted the faith in its entirety but they became extremely active in spreading the light - making many foreign converts and establishing the authenticity of the faith - there it was in danger of extinction and rapidly disintegrating and in some instances - reverting again to barbarism.

The early Christians of Erin readily accepted the fact that the prime business of man in this world is to know God, to obey His laws and to promote and dispense His doctrine - so they built churches - schools and monasteries and the golden age of Ireland began and flourished for centuries. Their geographical location isolated them - as it were- for a time from the barbarous and heathen hordes of Northern Europe and they persevered in their work of Christianity for over three hundred years.

During this time the word of God was heard from the lips of Irish Monks and Missionaries in every land of Europe - from the Irish Isles to the valley of the Danube - and from the plains of the Netherlands to the source of the Rhine, and in the black forest of Bavaria to the mountains of Tyrol.

In the closing years of the eighth century the barbarians of the North Sea country cast evil eyes upon the verdant fields of this Island of saints and scholars and she was doomed to almost total ruin or extermination from the Danish vandals that appeared in countless hordes and overran the country committing the most atrocious - inhuman cruelties their heathenish minds could invent - putting men, women and children to the gibbet and sword. This continued for a period of two hundred years till the prayers and strong wills together with their everlasting perseverance finally drove the last hated Dane, forcibly out of Ireland. Two hundred years seems a long time to invade or occupy a country without some kind of compromise or assimilation. If the Irish ever mixed with the Danes it was a rare occasion and happened after they had become converted to Christianity. From the time they came until they were vanquished they were looked upon as a scourge of God. Hence the persistent effort and continuous warfare until their pestilent identity was completely removed from the country.

Today I cannot help but see in all this distressing visitation upon the Irish race the index finger of fate pointing to the four quarters of the world and making of calamity the means leading through necessity to greater fields of opportunity and endeavor where the true, tried soldiers of the Cross would stand the test and by determined and persistent labor promulgate the Doctrine of Christ throughout the world and especially in the United States - where the name Irishman is synonymous of his faith and the patron Saint of this country (is known in every land of liberty and every hamlet in the land. Today when we can count twenty million Catholics in this land and note the strength and healthy moral tone in her many religious unsteadiness and the vast army of energetic and zealous leaders whose name would indicate to the close student that the cruel persecutions in Ireland were largely responsible for the rapid and vigorous growth in this land of equal opportunity and liberty of conscience.

I am simply giving a few outlines - not as an apology but as evidence of the justification for the pride that thrills my Irish heart when retrospective contemplation - I cavort in realistic dreams with the Knightly clans of our noble ancestors. The purity of the women, the courage and gallantry of the men, the indestructible faith of them all many were permitted, through the grace of God's love, the blessed privilege of martyrdom.

Such were the clan of O'Hagerty of Kenmare during the troublesome days of the eighteenth century when internal and external revolution was the order of the day. We had successfully accomplished ours and France was in the midst of the most fanatical and frenzied internal strife found in the records of modern times. Thousands sought homes in the newly established country of the west and with increasing, numbers ? for many years. About ten years before the dawn of the nineteenth century there was born close to Kenmare ? in the extreme southwestern part of County Kerry ? a boy whom is largely responsible for my writing this story. He was one of a numerous family of Hagertys who were known as well to do respectable farmers. They controlled a good farm, kept a dairy, many cows and sheep and owned a horse and cart. The Hagertys were noted for their stalwart character, progressiveness and intelligence. Among them were to be found soldiers, sailors, men of learning and adventure.

When the boy came to the family he was christened in the name Daniel -- a name which followed the family for generations. He was strong and husky and was raised amidst good surroundings with the advantage of schooling such as they had in those days. He continued in the business of his father and when he became a man and set out for himself he married a neighbor's daughter one Margaret Sullivan ? as near as I can determine this occurred about 1820. To this union was born six children that grew to maturity, namely John, Daniel, Cornelius, Margaret, Mary, and Ellen. The family continued to live at home for many years ? in fact until the youngest was about eighteen years of age.

John ? the oldest was born in the year of 1822. When he attained the age of 24 he took to wife ? one Mary Shea ? whose name was in the parish of ?Bunnan, in the same county. Shortly after this marriage the terrible famine of 1845 and 46 had assumed serious stages and the people who were in good circumstances a short time before were reduced to penury and want. Those who had ample for their own shared it with the needy until they were all reduced to the same deplorable condition. Something had to be done to lessen the burdens at home and get succor from some source ? so after due deliberation ? it was decided that John and his sister Margaret should go to America with an uncle who was about to seek his fortune in a new world.

They soon bid goodbye to all at home and took a conveyance to the City of Cork, thirty miles distant where they were to make their last footprints on the soil of their native land. The land of joys and sorrows where their youthful days were spent in innocent homely pleasures at pattern and fair - with song and dance on the village green. Mirth and morality ever characterized the youth and maidens of Erin but calamity had visited their circumscribed little world and the fates said go forth to the land of promise and supply those at home with the necessary things of life. It was with firm determination they faced the perils and hardships - over tempestuous seas to seek homes and employment thereby to realize this hope and how well they did it - thousands could tell. The sons and daughters of Erin set the wide world an example in this respect - that has yet to be equaled.

Uncle John told the writer many times of the terrors of this voyage. When they started from Cork they had seven hundred passengers aboard the old sailing vessel. With a rough sea and contrary winds they made little progress, the boat was small and very unsanitary - not even fit for stock.

Think of the crowd of seven hundred people in weakly, half starved condition being crowded in close quarters in a place like this for a period of ten weeks. It was no wonder ship fever broke out and later cholera. It seems they must have left a trail to mark their zigzag path from Cork to Montreal - for as they came up the St. Lawrence River in sight of the later city - the sea had claimed four hundred of the passengers. He told me he took the cholera too but happened to escape death through the extra attention received by the captain, of whom he was a favorite. The saddest thing happened - he said when he was compelled to assist in consigning to the sea - his dear uncle who was one of the victims of the scourge.

Only three hundred pair of feet touched the soil of the new land after a prolonged stay in quarantine amongst who were John and Margaret. They immediately started for Vermont - where friends and acquaintances had located sometime before. Here John readily found employment in Howe's marble quarries in Brandon Village and was destined to meet another misfortune when in blasting a ledge of rock fell on him - one leg and collar bone was broken. He was a husky young man and soon recovered and was back at work, where he made and saved money - sending it home to those beyond, to serve their immediate wants and to pay passage of those who desired to come to the land that was to become the happy realization of their most sanguine dreams. Being now settled in the new country they worked with willing hands to secure the means necessary to bring those at home to this land of hope and opportunity, all of which was accomplished with the assistance of the new recruits as they came during the following years. In the meantime they met many of their own kind, who like themselves, were forced through expediency to seek their fortunes in exile.

Thus it was they became acquainted with one John Enright who was destined to become the husband of Aunt Margaret - and thus unite the families of the Enrights and Hagertys. This collation established the first home of the family in America which became the welcome harbor for all the relatives and friends who were destined - to sooner or later -find a home in the new world.

It appears that according to their plan - Mother next on the list to make the venture and think what he may today - and make little of the so-called ignorant immigrant. The fact that the present time very few young women would have the courage and good sense to travel unsullied over a similar road under like surroundings.

In the latter part of July year 1849 - Mother and her cousin - Nell Sullivan made ready to bid the home and loved companions of their youth - to cross the ocean - never again to feast their eyes on the scenes of their childhood. To know and realize this made the parting sad and full of grief - the only hope and consolation - the thought that they too might leave the old home and join them in their exile. It was with heavy heart and tearful eyes they heard the last Godspeed and gave a lingering glance on those cherished scenes that would ever linger in their minds. They then took the conveyance Grandpa had secured to take them to the City of Cork - a distance of thirty miles where they were to take passage.

After getting on their way their minds were soon occupied by other scenes and thought - that gave them food for serious reflection. The many evidences of the deplorable conditions of the people that survived the famine were to be seen on all sides. The roads were lined with living skeletons - in misery and rags - praying for a bite of something to stay the pangs of hunger and many lay dead or dying by the wayside. Such were the parting scenes of their native land and it served to strengthen them in their resolve to find a home where they could without handicap - provide to sustain themselves and those near and dear to them who would soon follow to the glorious land of equal opportunity.

Arriving in Cork - they found a suitable tavern where they spent the night. No doubt in wakefulness and sorrow with thoughts of happy days garnished by sweet smiles and heart consoling tears. The dread and hope of the near future in their most trying and eventful adventure. The following morning they saw the City and especially the main thoroughfares - decorated in flags and bunting. The main street leading to the landing, carpeted and strewn with flowers and foliage. What a change from yesterday - when the pall of death and misery seemed to permeate the very hills and vales and cast a sickening pall over the only world they had ever known. Could it be possible that a people could enjoy themselves amidst such wretchedness and misery? (They knew not the world!)

All this grand display was in honor of Queen Victoria - who saw fit to visit the scenes of wretchedness made possible by the ruthless hand of her so-called loyal subjects. It was another chapter in the long history of a war of extermination but that is another story. This was the Queen's first visit to Ireland and her next was 50 years later - when she needed more Irish fools to help her missions to kiss off the lovers of liberty in South Africa.

The subjects of my story did linger long to enjoy the festivities as their ship was ready to sail - on what proved to be a long and perilous voyage.

As you may judge, they were over three months making the trip. Leaving Ireland in July and landing in Montreal in October. It was a poor sailing craft and the storms of midsummer drove it in all directions at will, but they finally reached the harbor of Montreal.

It was like leaving home to bid goodbye to the many people they met on ship during the three months of forced associations. There is nothing so congenial to the saddened heart of the exile as the association of those in similar circumstances - hence the trials and danger of life - makes lasting friends that death alone can erase.

After a short sojourn in Montreal they left for the States. After an interesting overland trip they reached Lake Champlain in northern New York State - where they took a boat for Ticondaroga - then overland to Brandon, Vermont - their destination. They arrived just thirteen weeks from the day they left home. Now they were among friends and relatives once more and ready to begin, under more favorable conditions. the battle of life - with courage and hopefulness. So closes the story of my Mother as an individual. About three years later she married my father and her story from that time merged in the annals of the family, their pioneering days that followed.

(Parenthetically - I want to state for the benefit of those whom it might concern that Mother's cousin Nell Sullivan - married a man named Hogan and settled in Wauseka, Minnesota where they raised a large family and prospered. I knew the lady well and heard the story of their trip from her own lips. )

Inside of two years after Mothers arrival the rest of the family consisting of her Father and her brother Daniel - Cornelius and sister Ellen [ed note: Ellen Enright Doyle] all came over and were united once again. It was then they planned and put into execution the trip west - stopping for a few years in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, then westward once more in 1856 my Mother's father secured a piece of land in Tama County, Iowa where he spent the remainder of his life with his sons and daughters living near him. He was a widower - his wife having died in Ireland several years before he left there.

Uncle Dan was in the army during the rebellion, came home at the close of the war and began farming in 1871. He was married to Ellen Shea - lived in Tama County until 1880 when they bought a farm in Carroll County, Iowa - where they resided for about ten years. They sold out and moved to Adair County where he was a successful farmer until he retired. His last years were spent in Stuart - he lived to a ripe old age. To this union was born four children William - Charles - Stephen - and Minnie. All grew to maturity and married. Stephen died a few years ago.

[ed. note: After much research and using the process of elimination on various family trees, I believe that the author is Daniel Enright (1859-1934), who was born in JoDavies Co, Illinois and lived in Tama, Iowa. He was Ellen Enright Doyle's nephew]

Transcribed and contributed by Kathleen Doyle.

Also see the related family Enright.


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