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View over the harbour

takes a while for it to sink in that as many as 500 people left Rathlin around that time (1845-1860); that was al- most half the population. Since few died of starvation on Rathlin it is more a commemoration of famine-induced emigration. Many migrants died on the journey and for others life wasn’t much better when they reached America, Canada or New Zealand. A large number of islanders set- tled in Lubec, Maine while others went to Massachusetts


and New Brunswick. Apart from letters that a certain John L. McCurdy sent, little is known of those who survived the crossing. Some died in the iron works, plaster mills and lead mines while those who got employ- ment in the shipbuilding industry fared a little better. Tose that remained on the island survived partly due to relief programmes such as building the Kilpatrick famine wall. Two shillings per week was paid to the workers by the landlord from money that was sent by the relatives of the islanders in America. So, the Gages had the wall built for noth-

ing. Some islanders, in their weakened state, did succumb to other ailments like the ‘fever’ that was rife in Ireland. One stricken family were entombed in their own house when villagers collapsed the roof on top of them after they had all died of the fever. Children were warned never to go near the place. Te vantage point here at Park Brae would have allowed islanders to watch as their neighbours left in small boats to board the famine ships anchored in

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