Pop in his playing days before leaving Dungarvan, County Waterford for Australia.
25th & 26th November, 1926.
Left home about half past three and went into Dungarvan. Spent the time from that to nine o’clock about town.
Had a small party of our own at P Foleys. We had a few songs there and then we started for the station. We weren’t very long there (or at least I thought we weren’t) when the train came in, for I knew that I would never again see that same crowd together that was there to see us off as there is bound to be some of them scattered when we set foot on Dungarvan Station again, and I wanted to be among them as long as I could. When it did come anyway, we got in and had only time for a few handshakes and we were off. I won’t dwell on what it was like from that to Rosslare. We got into the boat there and arrived in Fishguard harbour about half-past three in the morning. We were delayed there for more than an hour and a half. We had to go through the customs as soon as we landed and then we got on the train for London. We arrived there at just half past eleven (just two and a half hours late).
Mr. Gough met us at the station and he took us to where we could get something to eat. You may be sure that I felt in need of it too, after having touched nothing since half past five the evening before. We waited there until he got off from work and then he took us around the city. I never saw anything like the traffic. It is marvellous that there isn’t more accidents. We got back to lodgings about nine o’clock and we weren’t sorry for we were badly in the need of some sleep.
Left lodgings at quarter past seven. We went for breakfast and from there to St Pancras Station. We were wishing to goodness that the train would leave to take us to the ship or anywhere from this divil of a place called London. Miss Dower came and stayed with us until the train left. When I got on board and went to my cabin the first fellow I met inside was a fellow from Co.Tipp. The other four are Scotchmen. One of them has a violin and he gave us some tunes this evening but they were Scotch things. If Duggan was in good form, I would rather one tune from him than the whole lot of it.
Half past nine now and I feel like sleeping so I will go to the old bunk.
After breakfast today I met two more Tipp fellows, one named Dwyer and the other O’Donnell, and two Kerry fellows named Clery and Goodwin. Raining hard today and pretty rough, several fellows sick. If a fellow was never inclined to be sick it would make him vomit to be looking at them. Got a small bit sick myself.
Bit rough again today, but of course we expected it on account of being going through the Bay of Biscay. Very few at breakfast today all on account of the sickness. Plenty of them staying in bed.
When I went into dinner Imanaged the soup alright but after that I had to clear out. I couldn’t look at any more. Went to the old bunk then and stayed in it for awhile. Got the Xmas number of the I.I., but had to give it up as reading it was making me very lonely. We passed by a lighthouse somewhere in the North of Spain this evening about half past six.
Raining hard again this morning but after that we saw the first bit of sunshine that we have seen for some time since before we left home. I met some more Irish fellows to-day. There are about fourteen of us altogether. There is one Scotch fellow in our cabin and he would near drive you mad. He has never got a bit sick, but is all the time looking for to know when he will get the next meal. Of course he is a Scot and he wouldn’t get sick for fear that he wouldn’t have the value of his money from the Shipping Co.
We saw some lovely scenery today on the coast of Spain and Portugal. Called into Gibraltar today about 12 o’clock. It is a fine bit of scenery to look at. Several Spaniards came aboard selling oranges, apples, etc. Some of the passengers went ashore, but I didn’t go myself. Just when then the boat had started away from there this evening, it was found that there were five Irishmen left behind. They got up to us in a small tender before the boat was under full steam, but the captain wouldn’t stop, so they had to put back into Gib. again. However, he changed his mind and signaled to them to come on again, so they did and they had to climb into the boat with a rope ladder while she was still going. We were delighted to have them on board again as five off our crowd would have been a big drawback. It was an experience that I daresay they will think of for awhile.
Spend this morning writing letters to home. Almost wish I was going back with them, but anyhow I mean to see the thing through now. Had a chat with Father Hennebry today. He seems to be a very homely man. We got into the Gulf of Lyons today. It is pretty rough. I spent all this evening talking to an old Tipp. man who has been in Australia all of his life. Just a week today since I left home, but oh what a change. There is no night since I left but I have been dreaming that I am back there again. I needn’t say what I feel like when I wake in the morning and see where I am, “but what is the use”
In the Gulf of Lyons still but we expect to be in Toulon this evening about four o’clock ---- I wrote those few lines early this morning, but after we got into a storm.
We had to stay in bed all day. We could hardly go to our meals without getting soaked through as the waves were lashing in on all decks. We got to Toulon about nine o’clock this evening. We were five hours late on account of the gale.
Whenwegotoutof bed this morning we were still Toulon. There was a sister ship of this boat there, the “SS Orveito”. We left Toulon about nine o’clock. It was terribly cold today. Of course it was only what a fellow would call “a fine day for working” at home, but what can you do confined in a place like this. We saw plenty of snow along the French coast today.
We had Mass on board today. There was a congregation of about forty there. There are more Catholics on board but they missed it as there was some mistake about the time. The Purser and another fellow were the only ones of the crew that were there. The Captain is a Catholic also but he couldn’t attend. He is an Irishman and he comes from Ballinasloe. Father Hennebry was telling me that it was he that married him and Baptised his first child. His name is O’Sullivan.
We got into Naples about four o’clock this evening. It is a fine city. There was six of us Irish fellows went ashore together. It would be very risky for a fellow to go by himself as there are some fly boys hanging around there and a fellow might never again see the ship. There are some very fine buildings there but some of the streets are very narrow, but as clean as anything I ever saw. We saw a door of a chapel open and we went in to say a few prayers, but to our surprise when we went in there was a sermon on. We stayed for awhile but we couldn’t understand anyofit as it was all in Italian. We had some great fun with the fellows that were at the street corners selling things trying to get them to understand us. It is worth anything to a fellow to feel his feet on land again. We would feel inclined to go for a race across country or something like it. I wish I could step into the Gaelic Field and give an hour playing a right hard match. I wonder will I ever put my toe to a ball there again. Still a fellow can never tell these things. We saw some of the burning mountains away in the distance today. It is eleven o’clock now so I better finish. We left Naples about half an hour ago.
We had about eighty Italians at breakfast this morning. We saw some very nice scenery today as we passed through the Strait of Messina. We had a fairly good few of the towns, Reggio and Messina, one on each side of the Strait. There was some boxing contests on the deck after dinner today. Anything is welcome that would help to pass away the days. I wonder will this old voyage will ever come to an end, but like the old saying everything comes to those who wait. The Italians would nearly drive a fellow mad listening to the beggars jabbering away in their own language. We have a few blacks on board also.
There isn’t much of any interest doing today. There is no land in sight. We passed close totheislandofCrete this evening,but could barely see the coastline as there was a fairly thick fog on at the time.
We had some very vivid lightning this evening and the thunder was terrible. If the like of it was at home, the papers would make some fuss of it. The sea is lit up for miles around with every flash and hardly twenty seconds between any two of them. It was a wonderful sight.
Nothing doing today either but eating and sleeping. I found out today that there are a few ex Black and Tans on board and also a few B Specials. In fact there is one of the stewards and I would almost swear that I saw him with the “Tans” in Dungarvan. We should have got into Port Said this evening, but I saw by the notice board that it will be about 5 o’clock in the morning when we get there. By the time this old journey is finished we will be able to nothing but sleep, we are getting that lazy.
Got into Port Said this morning at 4 o’clock. Went ashore for about two hours after breakfast. Not much a place as far as a town goes, but it is well worth seeing. You see three or four different races of people there Arabs, Turks and Asyrians, etc. I nearly had a fit when I saw the trams that were there. They are built on much the same lines as at home but are pulled along on the lines by two mules. It is nearly all native police that are there. Some of the harbour police are real black fellows. As in Gibraltar, as soon as we got out of bed the boat was surrounded by hawkers in boats selling all sorts of stuff. We were anchored about forty yds. outside the town in the mouth of the canal. The first thing I saw in the morning was two black fellows having a fight. You may be sure they were at it in earnest. I was very sorry when the police came along and put a stop to the fun. We left Port Said about two o’clock. It was lovely coming through the canal. It is not often a fellow is in a position to throw a stone into each of two continents without moving from where he is, but you could easily have done it out of the boat as you have Asia on one side and Africa on the other, and any of them no more than fifty yards from you in fact less. We saw plenty of camels on the African bank of the canal. I don’t know how the natives live in some of the huts that I saw but I believe the dirty beggars would live in anything.
There were some Mohamedans praying as we passed along one place and such antics as they had. They used go on their knees and kiss the ground and then keep rubbing their foreheads on it for a couple of minutes. It was the first good laugh I had since I came on board when I saw them. We had plenty of time to see everything as the ship had to slow down to between five and six miles an hour while we were in the canal. We missed seeing the best of it as we only had daylight till about half past five and we won’t be out of it untilfouro’clockinthe morning. I was very sorry for missing some of it, as I enjoyed it better than any other part of the voyage so far.
When we got out of bed this morning, we were well on our way through the Red Sea. There is much sign of the great heat that we used hear so much about. I have as good a breeze this morning as I would have on the highest field in Currabaha, but of course it is winter here now just as it is at home. Saw several flying fish today.
There is a great difference between the temperature today and yesterday. It is much warmer today. Of course we are 300 miles nearer to the equator today than yesterday. All the top deck had to be covered over with canvas to protect us from the heat. We had pictures on the top deck this evening from half past eight to ten o’clock. Anything that helps to pass away a few hours is welcome.
We had Mass this morning at half past seven. There was a much bigger crowd today than the last day as several of the Italians and Maltese that came on at Naples are Catholics. The Captain was there also today. It was a lovely sight to see the phosphates shining in the water tonight when it got dark. There are a crowd sleeping on deck for the first time.The sea this evening was the calmest I’ve ever seen, as far as ever the eye could reach, the water was like a sheet of glass.
Still in the Red Sea. We expect to get out of it tonight or early tomorrow morning. But I suppose it is all the same to us now, as it is warmer it will be getting until we get to the other side of the equator. We passed by some islands today, but as far as we could make out there was only one of them inhabited. We had a concert on the upper deck tonight.
We are out of the Red Sea today. To our surprise it is a bit cooler than it was yesterday. There is a nice breeze blowing. There won’t be anything to be seen from now on to Colombo as there will be nothing but the ocean on all sides. We had some very good boxing bouts tonight from half past eight to half past ten. There was one Irish fellow boxed. It was the best fight of the evening, as they had to box an extra round before the referee could give a decision and the Irishman won on pts. He is from Belfast and his opponent was from London. We gave him a right good cheer when it was over.
Nothing to be seen all day today. Had a dance on deck on tonight. It is a good bit of exercise for a fellow. There were pictures on at the same time at another part of the boat. I have met a few very interesting people during the past week. They have been in Australia before and it helps to pass away the time to listen to them telling oftheirexperiencesoutthere. Not extra warm at present but we feel it very dead at night as the sea is a bit choppy and we can’t open the portholes unless we want to get plenty of water in ontop of us.
Just the regular ship routine today. Nothing to do between the meals but go to sleep. The only comfort that I get out of it is that as soon as ever I fall asleep, I am back at home right away and I travel all the old paths and roads but it is an awful feeling when I awake and realize that it has been only all a dream and that I am thousands of miles away from home.
There is nothing doing today either. There is no difference between the days now only that we are getting nearer to Australia every one that passes. There was a child buried this evening. I went to see the burial. It was for quarter to six and just at that time the boat slowed down and the corpse was thrown overboard. There are two chaps laid up with appendicitis. One of them had an operation for it on board yesterday and the other is expected to hold without being operated on until we get to Colombo.
Should have got into Colombo today but instead we won’t get there until Monday. This is a slow old boat and she is not able to make up for all the time she lost in the first part of the voyage on account of the bad weather. Three weeks on board today and it seems like three months. We had a few showers this evening but they were partly warm. There were some good pictures on tonight.
There was a big crowd at the Mass today. It is much warmer than it has been for the past few days. We miss the bit of a breeze that we had. No sport of any kind.
Got into Colombo at seven o’clock this morning. There was a big crowd of the passengers went ashore but I didn’t go. It looks to be a fairly nice place from the boat and some of the passengers that had been there previous to yesterday told me that it is a place that is improving wonderfully. It is awfully warm though. I hope Australia isn’t as bad. We were to leave here at eleven o’clock but it is that now and she hasn’t finished taking in coal yet. Father Hennebry took us up First Class this evening, one of the Kerry fellows and myself. He took us to his cabin and had drinks sent into us there and after that we spent about an hour and a half walking about the deck with him. Any of us hadn’t a collar on when he came down for us so we went up with him as we were. I couldn’t help laughing when I used see the all the big toffs staring at us, as much as to say what brought such rubbish as ye up here but the more they stared the more we walked around as if we owned the place. Of course we knew we were alright as long as we were with Father Hennebry becausehimselfandtheCaptain are the best of friends.
Left Colombo sometime about 2 o’clock this morning. A fellow doesn’t feel half so bad today because he knows that he is on his way to Australia, but you couldn’t feel like that until now as there were so many ports to be called into. Our next stop now will be in Freemantle. We seem to be moving faster today than we have been yet. They say it is the coal is the cause of it, for what they have been using up to now was very bad but they got some good coal in Colombo yesterday.
I saw the notice board to-day that we did 361 miles yesterday. That is 31 miles more than the day before we reached Colombo and about 11 miles ahead of the best days running since we left Tilbury.
We crossed the equator today at twenty minutes past two. It wasn’t anything warmer in fact it was cooler today than the day that we were in Colombo. One of the sailors were telling me today that we should reach Melbourne in 13 days if everything goes well. We had some very good pictures this evening.
We had a bit of a thunder storm during the night and some awful rain. It was the heaviest I have ever witnessed. It was one of those tropical rainfalls that you get about the equator sometimes. We had some more boxing again this evening. There were some very good bouts.
Xmas eve and not a sign of Xmas. I hope it will be last one on sea, for a long time to come. I was thinking today of how I spend this day twelve months and about midnight mass that night. It is an awful change but we must only try to forget these things, but that is easier said than done. The more I try not to think about them the more they keep coming back. There was a fancy dress ball tonight on deck. It was a fairly good affair but just as it was in full swing it started to rain and everyone had to go and look for shelter.
Xmas Day. The first one I’ve ever spent away from home. Nothing to remind us that it is Xmas morning except the Mass. Of course you would hear a few people wishing each other a happy Xmas, but for my part I would rather not hear anything about it. We got a very good dinner today. It was the only time I felt like having had enough after any meal since I came on board. We had another dance tonight.
No chance of going “hunting the wren” today. I spent all day lying in the bunk sometimes dozing asleep and the rest of the time thinking of home and all the other St. Stephens days that I spent there. I envy the sailors their job because they have got something to do that will keep their mind occupied.
Nothing doing of any interesttoday.TheCaptainattended a concert that was held on deck tonight.
We should have got into Freemantle but as usual we are a couple of days behind time. I suppose we will get in there sometime on Friday morning.Everyone thought that she would make up for lost time after leaving Colombo, but instead she will have a few more hours lost. We had another concert tonight.
We had medical inspection this morning by the ship’s doctor. All passengers had to pass by him at a certain spot, and he just looked at you. We will have another examination to-morrow after getting into Free mantle by an Australian doctor before any of the passengers are left go ashore.
We got into the docks at Free mantle at twelve o’clock today. The doctor came out in a tender and met us in the harbour. The boat had to stop while he was inspecting all the passengers. It was only just a matter of form just the same as we had on yesterday. Then we had to get our passports stamped. We went ashore about half past twelve. We had a good dinner in Freemantle. It is a nice place but not very big. As we were coming along the street after having dinner we met Fr. Hennebry and Fr. Keane, so Fr. Hennebry told us to come along with them, that they were going to Perth. They got a motor car and Willie, Goodwin and I went with them. We came back a different way to the way we went, so we saw a good bit of the country around there. Perth is a very nice place. We were back again at the boat at about six o’clock. Willie and myself went off the boat at seven and we walked around for another hour. You may be sure we are able to sleep tonight. I am as tired as I would be after a day’s harvesting. We left Free mantle at nine o’clock tonight.
Every fellow seems to be much in the better after his day ashore. We were in sight of land all day to-day. This part of the Australian shore seems to be very parched.
1st January, 1927
New Years Day. We had no Mass to-day as there was only one priest who had vestments and he got off at Free mantle. We are in the Great Australian Bight to-day. We expected it to be very rough as it is generally worse than the Bay of Biscay or the Gulf of Lyons but instead it isn’t as bad as either of them. There is nothing to be seen to-day as there is no land in sight.
We had devotions at quarter to eleven to-day. We just slept between the meals for the rest of the time.
Got into Adelaide at half past ten. We went ashore for a good meal and a walk. We got the meal in a restaurant at the docks. We had a good walk about the place until about two o’clock and then we went back into the boat again.Itwasn’tmuchuse in going to bed as they were unloading stuff off the boat all night and there was no chance of sleeping.
Left Adelaide this morning at half past six, so we are well on our way to Melbourne by now. Strange to say a fellow feels a bit ............ tonight. You make a few friends on a voyage like this and I daresay I will never again see one of them. My five cabin mates are going to Sydney.
Got into Melbourne at about eight o’clock this evening. Minnie met us at the boat and we went by taxi to their place.