THE McCUTCHEONS FROM DONAGHADEE
We sailed out of Belfast in the belly of rat-infested boats,
To brave the wild Irish sea;
We looked back through the mist at the beautiful Irish greens,
And said goodbye to Donaghadee.
We were men who didn’t fit in, we Ulster Scots of yore;
We left no-one behind to mourn.
We lived through eight weeks of hell crossing the dark Atlantic ocean,
With thoughts of a new life- re-born.
We tossed, We turned, We buried our babes at sea;
We dreamed many wistful dreams;
Of the Pot o’ Gold, at the end of the fold,
At least that’s the way it seems.
America – Quebec at last- our new country we behold;
Freedom within our grasp;
Our journey was almost over; or was it just beginning? We cared not;
For we were up to the task.
First we had to brave the mighty Saint Lawrence River,
Aboard a Steam-powered boat;
Our hearts were open, our eyes were keen,
Montreal was in our scope.
Early in the morn disaster struck when fire engulfed the deck;
Our flat bottomed boat sunk;
We swam to shore, just as before, only wet, weary,
Broke and defunked.
What to do, but to go forward, in a land so strange as this;
Neither money, clothing nor food in hand.
By cart, by foot, we needed to make it;
Montreal at least, to land.
We McCutcheons from Donaghadee, we forged ahead,
Through winters of fifty-five below;
Montreal we finally made
Over trails choked with snow.
Twas 1824 we heard – the new Welland Canal did beckon;
We better go, we said;
We needed to work, broke as we were, to be worthy of
The trials that lay ahead.
Westward we marched, through mountains, woods and dale,
Into a wilderness unknown;
Our companions were Indians, wolves, bears, and mosquitoes,
Never to be outgrown.
With malaria and smallpox always near, we cut though the forests
With our axe,
We forged the rivers, we cleared the brush, we built the roads,
No time to relax.
At last we arrived at Éirinn go Brágh
In the wilds of Ontario;
Now it’s time to hew the logs, build the house, plough the fields,
Before the cold north wind doth blow.
We built the schools and the house of god; we needed graveyards
To bury our dead;
We set down roots in this vast wild land and sired our children,
Forged the road for the years ahead.
Our own black earth at last, free from tyranny; no landlords, rent collectors
Nor leases to pay;
We made the laws, we fought the wars; what dreams we had
For our new found country.
And yet some of us, never satisfied, couldn’t stay still;
Untamed frontiers forever beckoned;
We set forth in Red River Carts for the Territories – searching –
For new Black Gold to be reckoned.
We were “hard-workin’, hard-drinkin’, hard-fightin’,” Scots-Irishmen,
The McCutcheons from Donaghadee;
From Pirates to Pioneers – Our ancestors did their part –
Now it’s up to you and me.
© Author – Angela Andrew
Picture Courtesy of Barry Stewart; son of Edna; Grand-son of Hugh; Great-Grandson of Stewart; Great-Great-Grandson of Hugh From Donaghadee.