An American Wake in Gortnalour - 1948


Denis O’Riordan, Gortnalour, Inchigeela, Co. Cork, Ireland,  went to America in 1948. The following are entries from the diary of his brother the late Eugene O’Riordan, Gortnalour, which describe the days before he emigrated. He later married his neighbour Nell Callaghan and they live in Boston.




Denis O’Riordan was at Ballybuidh Races on Monday August 2nd 1948 and with him was Nell Callaghan, Derra, his brother Dannie, Julie his sister, Timmy Galvin, Gortaneadin and Sally Grace. They were driven by Timmie M. O’Sullivan with John Creedon’s Car. He was at Macroom’s first Show with Nell on Wednesday August 4th 1948. There was a party here at home on Sunday August 15th 1948 and the following were present: Denis and Nell, his father, Anne (his aunt), Ellie and Julia (his sisters), Denis and Mrs. Callaghan, Paddy Healy, Haremount, Aunt Mollie, Tim Joe Crowley, and myself. After the party they went to the Sports in Inchigeela. There was a party at Mikie Riordans, Gortnalour on Tuesday night August 17th. and the following were there : Mikie and Mrs. Riordan, Neilus and his wife Kitty, Paddy Barry and Noreen, Michael Larkin, Anto Callaghan and May, Denis and Nell, Bridie Cronin and myself. Denis gave a party at Hurley’s Johnstown on Wednesday August 18th and a large crowd of neighbours, friends and relations were present …… There was another party at Anto Callaghan’s, Derra, on Thursday night August 19th …….

Johnnie Creedon arrived here with the car on Friday morning August 20th at 11.30 a.m. All the family were at home except Mick, Dannie, and Timmie. Daniel Lynch was also here to give him goodbye. I went in the car to Cobh. We travelled on west, he went in to give goodbye to Curly Lynch. He next went in to Mikie Riordans and they were all crying. Neilus went with us to Derra. They were all crying again at Derra ….. we then went east the road and Denis and Nell went up to the cottage to give goodbye to Eugen. Eugen was terrible lonesome.


We then went to the village and stopped in front of the Post Office and went into Tadgo Murphy’s. After that we went into Dan J. O’Sullivan’s (The Briar Rose) and the following were there: Dan and his wife and mother and mother-in-law, John Sweeney, Cleanrath, William Kelleher, the shop and Charlie, Barry Leary, Guard Hanrahan, Guard McCarthy and Mrs. Bridie Carroll. Fr. O’Driscoll C.C. gave them goodbye outside Dan Sullivan’s pub. We then went to the car. There was a big crowd lined up outside the Post Office and they gave them a rousing send off. Guard McCarthy was in the Square and gave the salute. Fr. O’Driscoll was in front of the church and gave his blessing as we passed.


They gave goodbye to others in Cork. We had tea in the Cosy Restaurant in the South Mall. We went on to Cobh and it was difficult to get lodgings there. After having tea we gave each other goodbye in front of Ryan’s and above the monument and left for home at 11.00 p.m. The tender was to go out to the ship at 7.00 a.m. the following morning but owing to rough seas did not go out until 8.30 Saturday night but had to return back again. They eventually went out the following morning and boarded the liner Mauratania at 9.00 a.m. on Sunday August 22nd 1948. The Taoiseach John A. Costello travelled also en route to the U.S.A. and Canada.


They landed in New York at 10.00 a.m. on Friday August 27th and were met by Nay Callaghan and wife and arrived at their home at 10.00 p.m. that Friday night. I got the first letter from Denis on Thursday September 2nd 1948