Smorgasbord Short Story – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Escaping the Famine by Sally Cronin

Time for this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills and this week being July 4th, it is in celebration of Charli’s part of Michigan, and its history. She asked us to check out the micro history of the Keweenaw National Historic Park from the 1840s and write 99 words no more no less about an aspect of that history.

My mother’s family on her father’s side originated from Cork where ships began leaving for America in the mid-1840s after the worst winter of the famine. I know that my Great Grandfather William Walsh left to join the Royal Navy but I am sure many of my relatives died or immigrated to America and beyond. The ships were overcrowded, cramped and disease was common. Already weakened by years of famine, many died hence the later term ‘coffin ships’, and those that survived had to endure terrible storms and deprivation to reach the promised land. One of the stories on the site is about an Irish couple from County Kerry who left around that time, so I have loosely based my story around them.

Image – The Colour of life by Geoffrey Cronin.

Escaping the Famine by Sally Cronin

Michael placed a clod of barren earth in a pouch before joining Maggie, waiting with their meagre possessions by the side of the road. Carrying their bundles and what food was left, they walked eighty miles through desolate lands to Cork. With their last few pounds, they bought passage on a ‘Coffin’ ship. Surviving storms and disease aboard the crowded vessel, they made their way to Michigan. Michael toiled in a copper mine, until the growing family settled on a farm near Hurontown, where they mixed the earth from the old country with the rich soil of the new.

©Sally Cronin 2019

 If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge here is the link:

I have a number of short story collections and you can find my books and their reviews:

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you have enjoyed my story….thanks Sally.

45 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Short Story – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Escaping the Famine by Sally Cronin

  1. Great story, Sally. I remember walking along the banks of the Liffey and seeing the statues of the starving people of the 1850s famine. Life must have been hell on earth for them.

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  3. Very vivid imagery and such a sad story (and pretty common although not many talk about it now). I remember reading Herman Melville’s Redburn that, among other things, talks about the conditions in which the emigrants to America travelled, and it is heart-wrenching. Thanks, Sally!

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  4. What a hard life it was for them, Sally, but I like the way you end with optimism as they mixed the earth of the old country with the rich soil of the new.

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