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Hannah Parr anonymous woman’s voyage account 1868

January 2010 - Clair O. Haugen

Anonymous woman’s voyage account published in Morgenbladet 11 June 1868. Found by Trond Austheim during a search for emigrant ship news stories for Norway Heritage. Clipping facsimiles received from Børge Solem. Translation © 2009 Clair O. Haugen.
The following letter from a woman passenger on the emigrant ship Hanna Parr is agreeably communicated to us. (1)
"In the North Sea we sat in the same place off the coast of Scotland for about 3 days on account of unfavorable winds, but finally on the 18th of April we came out into the Atlantic Ocean. There we had completely changed weather, sometimes with the wind and occasionally having contrary wind. One time we had a small storm. But because there was favorable weather then, for the most part, the trip went swiftly on until the 27th of May (2) in the evening, when we had come almost to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The bad weather increased more and more so that in the night it turned into a hurricane that lasted a whole day. This was as dreadful a sight as anything I ever have seen before, and I prayed God save me from witnessing such a terror any more. Even the captain and crew had seen nothing like that before. The wind was set against us so that we had to turn about and run back in this manner about 150 miles; but that was not enough, we also lost a lot. The foremast broke across, along with part of the mainmast; likewise an amount of rigging and sails, kitchen, mate’s cabin, and various other things standing on deck went overboard. When the storm finally subsided we were most glad, having hope of deliverance, but then full of dread we saw that there was nothing on deck. The mast ends, the brickwork (3) and debris from the broken stove tiles in the cookhouse, and all kinds of things were scattered from one bulwark to the other, and everything was so frightful; it looked like ruins after a conflagration.

During of the storm I felt fairly well and in the circumstances also in good humor, but it was dreadful to lie and listen to all that wretchedness. The breaking sea flooded against and over the deck so that it broke like thunderclaps; down in the hold (4) passengers went all around and complained to each other, and all expected every moment to be buried in the roaring waves. One time the mate came to us below and said that 3 of the crew had hurt themselves and swore they were nearly exhausted, and he asked if some passengers were willing to come up and help them; that was no pleasant news and hardly desirable work to go to when it was at the helm (5) where they had to stand, and that a hazardous post; (6) but all the same a few of my people went despite having no strong hope of ever again coming down into the passenger hold. They stayed there only an hour but saw the broken foremast and the last of the sail go overboard; the rudder was made fast—then the ship no longer answered her helm—and my comrades came below again, safe and sound. But those were some dreadful moments until the storm let up. The ship now was so greatly damaged we naturally had to seek land, yet that was not so easily done as said. Finally we arrived here in Limerick in Ireland on the 7th of May; since then many men have worked on the ship and are still busy, and from what they say now, we shall journey on in 3 or 4 days.

The Shannon with the Limerick harbor area seen from the tower of the Limerick Cathedral
The Shannon with the Limerick harbor area seen from the tower of the Limerick Cathedral as it looked about the time when the Hannah Parr people stayed there
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I go on now also to say a little about how we were received in Limerick. The better class of people (7) here are most pleasant and arranged a lot of honors for us Norwegians and have provided many diversions for us. First we were along on a pleasure trip by rail 8 English miles into the country, where we viewed some ruins from the olden times (8). Once, we went to the theatre, and another time 300 of us were invited up into a great hall, (9) where we had supper; we also had an entertainment, which was very nice; they had many speakers and the like; afterwards was the distribution of a number of Testaments and Bibles, from which I also got a Testament— all that was completely enjoyable. Friday after Pentecost (10) all the passengers were on a pleasure trip by rail 6 miles up into the countryside; there we were inside a large garden, which belonged to a count, and it was handsome beyond description; there we were treated to dinner, and Limerick’s finest people waited on us—all that as well as costing us merely a Thank you!"
1. Morgenbladet 11 June 1868. The letter appears to have been written in two sections: the first shortly after arriving in Limerick; the second, after the Mount Shannon excursion. It is hard to give an impression of the woman’s writing style without knowing how much an editor was involved in shaping her text.
2. Other voyage accounts say April 28th.
3. Probably for a kind of hearth having sand enclosed by brick, upon which passengers could build fires.
4. Located above the cargo hold, the between-decks where the passengers and their bunks were.
5. The Norwegian word ror could refer to the helm or wheel and also to the rudder itself. Rentz says that the rudder’s rigging had been knocked loose. See also the Chronicle account. From this it seems as though the rudder had to be re-rigged or at least made stationary, truly a dangerous job in a storm.
6. The helm and rudder were at the rear of the ship, and with the wind behind them, the biggest waves would break over the stern upon anyone there.
7. Rentz uses the same phrase.
8. May 10.
9. Orphan Hall, May 19.
10. Mount Shannon, May 29.

Other Related Articles :
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