Diary of Biddy Cleary
(Ireland in the 1860s)
This diary is told in the perspective of Biddy Cleary, a young Irish girl living in the 1860s during the Potato Famine. Her father has supposedly been away in America for a few years. He had planned on sending money, but the family never received any. Biddy, her mom, and little brother and sister all work on a farm just a few miles west of Dublin.
Date: November 4, 1860 Dublin, Ireland
It has been days since he left. Weeks have turned into months and months turned into years. He said he was going to “the land of the free” and he’d come back and the family would be fine. He hasn’t come back. Mam never stopped hoping. We need the money to pay Bean Tí Nessa. Mam, Maury and Conor and I have been working. Food is getting scarce. This morning, as we took the walk out to the feirm I had a thought. Instead of trying to harvest potatoes, we could try meacon. Mam thought this was a great idea. We told
Bean Uí Cathleen and she thought we could try it out. She gave us money for seeds and we went to the market and got some. She said we would plant them when the weather was right.
Date: November 8, 1860
It’s been a few days and we still haven’t planted the seeds. I’m beginning to think that Bean Uí Cathleen doesn’t believe the seeds will harvest. “Not right weather” she always says. Conor went to go work on the ports as a fisherboy. It will help the family find food. We have fish stew every night.
Date: November 10, 1860
Today was Church. We went down to Saint Patrick’s Cavan Cathedral today and prayed to Dia to help our family through this tough time. Being good Catholics, we did nothing else that day. Still no word from Athair.
Date: November 15, 1860
We finally decided to plant the seeds, with or without Bean Uí Cathleen’s approval. Everyone needs the food. Mam is worried we’ll get fired but I think we need to do it.
Date: November 27, 1860
We’ve been thrown out of our apartment. We have been living on the streets like a bunch of rats. I have few belongings. But the plan is working. We already have a few meacon popping up. Even in this weather!
Date: November 28, 1860
Today was the happiest day ever! We received a letter from Athair containing money (which we’ll exchange for our own bank notes). He will come back!
Bean Tí - Landlady
Bean Uí -Mrs.