McKenty Books Selection: Polly of Bridgewater Farm

Polly of Bridgewater Farm – an unknown Irish story

by Catharine Fleming McKenty

What a splendid book … what a delightful story. The bibliography and illustrations give it the right air of authenticity. The book is very educational – all those who read it will hardly notice they are being taught … the author is a superb storyteller! I could feel the slushy peat field … I could smell the rain coming.

Marianna O’Gallagher
Authority on Grosse Île and its preservation as an Irish monument, Quebec City, Canada

Novel outline

How in the world did Polly Noble, a bubbly little girl with freckles, born just outside Dromore in January 1837, live to become the subject of a biography more than a century later in Toronto?

Little Polly steps out - illustration from the book

Little Polly steps out – illustration from the book

This is the story of an idylic irish childhood torn asunder by the famine of 1847, and the trials of emigration to a new life in Canada. It was on her father’s farm, on the old Coach Road between Dromore and Enniskillen, that Polly spent an idyllic two years with her parents, George and Jane Noble. Then Disaster struck. On January 6, 1839, the infamous ‘Big Wind’ rose out of the sea and swept across Ireland, wailing like a thousand banshees. It flattened whole villages, burned down farm houses, and finally killed her father. It changed Polly’s life forever. Two years later, Polly’s mother, Jane, married William Fleming, the handsome widower across the road at Bridgewater Farm. Soon Polly began to walk back and forth the mile or so to the one-room school run by the Kildare Society in Dromore. But she found time to plant potatoes, milk the cows, look after the goats, pull flax, chase the hens and run bare-foot in the meadows. Then disaster struck again, this time the potato crop failed and famine and typhus threatened Bridgewater Farm. Like thousands of Irish people, the Flemings decided they must escape. They packed what they could, travelling by horse and cart to Londonderry/Derry, and drinking in their last views of the green fields and hills of Ireland. On May 14, 1847, along with 418 other passengers, they boarded the three-masted sailing ship ‘Sesostris’. Only 10 years old, Polly was on her way to a new life in Canada. After an appalling voyage, during which some of the passengers, including Polly’s darling little brother and sister died, they docked at Grosse-Île, the quarantine station on the St. Lawrence River, about an hour from Quebec. After three years in Montreal, where she met her future husband, Polly was now ready for her next adventure in a vast unknown land called Canada. Her destiny would be linked with a dozen children who had lost their mothers, one of them a future mayor of Toronto.


To purchase a copy of the limited colour edition of Polly of Bridgewater Farm, click on the Buy Now button below (Canadian customers only)

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

To purchase a copy of Polly of Bridgewater Farm, b & w edition

click here.


To hear the author Catharine Fleming McKenty on BBC Northern Ireland click below.


AA CM Scrapbook

The author at her childhood home – Donlands near Toronto.


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