A Successful Irishman

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER VII (3) start of chapter

Cases of a somewhat similar nature might be multiplied to any extent, all illustrative of the manly vigour of the Irish race, and of what great things they are capable when they have a fair field for their energies.

Living near a thriving city in Western Canada is a hale and vigorous Irishman, well advanced in years, who, as a day labourer, broke stones on the public road not far from the very spot on which stands his splendid residence, one of the most elegant in the country. Like a wise man, he took the first work that offered, and it prospered with him. He rejoices in an unmistakable Irish name, smacking of the 'ould ancient kings;' and there is not in all Canada a stauncher adherent to the ancient faith. When he came out to America—more than thirty years ago—a priest was rarely to be seen near where he settled, and it was only by great effort, at no small sacrifice of time and labour, that he could avail himself of the consolations of religion; but he was determined that, above all things, he would transmit to his children the precious deposit which he had himself received from his simple but pious parents.

Between the Saturday evening, when his week's work was over, and the Monday morning, when another week of labour commenced, this devoted Catholic would constantly walk a distance of between forty and fifty miles, to attend Mass and perform the duties enjoined by his Church. And when his children grew in strength, he would make them the companions of his journey. Not a few of this good man's descendants have abandoned a home of luxury to devote themselves to a religious life, and are now diffusing among the youth of their own race and faith the lessons of piety which they learned from the lips of an honoured parent. Men of his stamp are the glory of their country.

A recent striking instance of progress made by the Irish may be mentioned. The Bishop of Kingston—Dr. Horan—in visiting a settlement, of which the first tree had been cut only five years before, was received by one hundred of the settlers, each driving his own waggon and pair of horses. Preceded by a green banner, and a band of music obtained from a neighbouring town, these sturdy Celts conducted their good Bishop in triumph into the heart of their prosperous settlement. That was a day of well-earned jubilee.

In fully twenty of the counties of Upper or Western Canada there are thriving settlements either exclusively or principally occupied by Irish Catholics; while the Catholic Irish are to be found in every direction, often in the midst of Protestant settlements, whether Irish, Scotch, or English.

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