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Sunday, February 17, 2008

On "poor Pat" and his emigration from Ireland

You may have read about my recent discovery of the passenger list of the ship William on which Patrick Cowhey traveled to America from Ireland. I was thrilled to find that document and receive a little glimpse into the travels of my 15-year-old immigrant ancestor back in 1823.

How surprised I was shortly after that to find a poem/song entitled "Poor Pat Must Emigrate". Published by A.W. Auner in Philadelphia (date unknown), the song details the sorrows and struggles of "poor Irish Pat" as he makes plans to emigrate from his native Ireland.

Here's a small excerpt:

Where is the nation or the land
that reared such men as Paddy's land?

Where is the man more noble
than they call poor Irish Pat?


But why should we be so oppressed
in the land of St. Patrick blessed.

The land from which we have the best,
poor Paddy must emigrate.

Part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, "Poor Pat Must Emigrate" is only one of a handful of vintage songs and poems on their website written by and about the Irish of the 19th century. Check out their Poor Pat Must Emigrate: 19th-Century Irish Immigration webpages for more on the history of the Irish in the commonwealth, where Pat Cowhey finally made his home. Chances are he faced similar trials and pains as "poor Irish Pat" did, though he left the old country a few decades earlier.

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