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"Walking in Margaret's Footsteps"
Email The Margaret Movement in Carrigallen


´╗┐´╗┐History of Margaret (4)

All sources would suggest that it took almost six months to reach America because of severe storms that drastically affected the ship's progress. In fact the passengers despaired of ever reaching dry land again. As month rolled into month provisions became so scarce that one passenger recalled that each person was allowed just one cracker a day. Almost all luggage was destroyed including the Gaffney's trunk, whose lid William then used to rock his children.

Eventually they reached Chesapeake Bay and then New Brunswick, where they took on food and finally Baltimore. They were there only a short time when the baby died. Like all small tenant farmers of his era, William Gaffney was ill-equipped for city life so his job opportunities were limited. Nevertheless he succeeded in securing employment as a carter in the Baltimore docks and was soon in a position to send money to his brother-in-law, Matthew O'Rourke, for the upkeep of his three children. In fact he had almost saved enough to send for them.

Then disaster struck. In 1822 a yellow fever epidemic ravaged Baltimore, claiming among its victims both William and Margaret Gaffney, who died within days of each other. They are buried in St Patrick's cemetery in Baltimore and their death is recorded in the church archives. Their household effects were burned, as was the custom, to prevent spread of the infection, with the exception of a prayer-book, which was found 27 years later and returned to the family.

Margaret, now nine, was homeless and soon alone as her brother disappeared and was never heard from again. It's thought he may have gone out west.

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Two illustrations from the time showing Irish emigrants on
board the ships of the time
(Courtesy of Beloved Margaret Haughrey of New Orleans)