Scotland & Ireland
I've inserted this page for one reason only. Both countries suffered mass exodus of their populations, particularly in the 18th & 19th centuries. Of the two, Ireland suffered most.
In this page, I have included what I call my "diaspora" songs, three songs written about these exoduses, which in Scotland, bears the general description of "The Clearances"
All these recordings are part of On The Wagon's discography and I have to thank them for allowing me use of these tracks.
Two of the songs are about Scotland ( "Tobermory" and "Caledonia Farewell") and the third is about Ireland ("The Teardrop of Ireland") which is where I'll begin
This statue stands on the quayside of Cobh harbour, near Cork in the south west of Ireland. Known in British Colonial times as Queenstown, several million Irish men and women set sail for America from its deep water port.
The statue faces west towards America to which the older boy is pointing.
The young woman and the two boys are Annie Moore and her brothers Anthony and Philip. They set sail for America on board the SS Nevada on 20th December 1891. Annie was the first Irish person to be admitted through immigration on the newly openend Ellis Island immigration centre, New York on 1st January 1892. On Ellis island, a similar statue of the three stands facing eastward towards Ireland.
Between 1800 and 1920, over three and a half million Irish people left Ireland for America because of economic necessity. I have seen an estimate of as many as five million people. Most left from what is now called Cobh (Cove), which in British colonial days was called Queenstown (see Annie Hall Above). The last thing any of the emigrants would have seen as they looked back at their homeland from their boat on the swell of the Atlantic ocean, would have been the flashing lights of the Fastnet Lighthouse. This landmark became known (and is still known locally as) the "Teardrop of Ireland". On the other side, especially towards the end of the 19th century when Ellis Island became the principle point of arrival on the eastern seaboard of the United States, almost one in ten were turned back on health grounds. Ellis Island became known as the "Island Of Tears"
Although the numbers leaving Scotland as what we would now call "Economic Migrants" was much less than in Ireland, hundreds of thousands made the same desperate trip across the Atlantic to escape poverty and death. In the early days, the Scots seemed to gravitate towards the southern states, particularly Carolina. I read in a newspaper of a graveyard discovered under the encroaching coastal forests of Carolina in which every gravestone was that of an immigrant Scot. Nobody knew who they were. This song was almost immediately born.
The "Clearances" was the name given to the movement in the late 18th, early 19th centuries which saw unscrupulous Scottish land owners clear their land of crofters and their families in order to make way for the husbandry of more profitable sheep. This happened all over Scotland and , together with the various famines of the mid 19th century, drove almost a million Scots to seek their destinies in America, Canada and, less frequently, Australia and New Zealand. This song commemorates one such emmigration, from the island of Mull in the early 19th century. What I am trying to evoke here is that, when communities had to uproot and leave their native soil, not eveyone went. There were those who were left behind; a family member too old to travel, or a young girl who had to stay while her sweetheart sailed away.