Pat Clark

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XIII (4) start of chapter

In the following years many families of Irish, as well as young single men, came by every train that then regularly arrived in the fall. Some had means, others had education without means, and more were deficient in both; but if some lacked both of these important advantages, they had shrewdness, intelligence, vigour of body, and a determination to allow no obstacle to stand long in their path.

The daring adventure of a poor labourer from the county Meath affords a splendid instance of pluck and perseverance.

Patrick Clark, seeing so many of his countrymen leaving Missouri, and pushing on for the new land, of which such promising accounts were given by returning trappers, was resolved, if possible, to imitate their example, and, like them, better his condition. Pat had energy and ambition sufficient for any undertaking; but to get over between two and three thousand miles of ground, and with provisions enough to support life on the journey, required such ordinary appliances as a waggon, a team of oxen, and other matters, all entirely beyond Pat's reach. What was he to do? Go he would, but how? As a landsman offers to work his passage in a ship, so did Pat Clark proffer his services as a teamster. He was willing to feed himself, and he would not demand a cent for his services. But no one required his services, or would have them. Pat was checked, not defeated; go he was resolved, though he had to trudge every step of the weary way. And this he very nearly did. He purchased a hand-cart, in which he placed his blankets, some flour, bacon, and a few other necessaries, and manfully set out on his tremendous journey, now pushing before him, now dragging after him, his hand-cart with his precious stock of provisions: and in this manner he had actually traversed 1,800 miles, when he was overtaken by some compassionate traveller on the same route, who gave the poor foot-sore but brave-hearted Irishman a lift in his waggon, and enabled him to accomplish the remainder of his journey in a manner the comfort of which he could keenly appreciate. The Meath man settled down on Cache Creek, and was soon independent. Irishmen of his stamp cannot fail in what they undertake.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America