Posts Tagged ‘Polly’


December 22, 2015




Polly Of Bridgewater Farm, an unknown Irish story. We all know the book but much less the author.  Let me tell u a little bit about her.

AA CM Scrapbook

Catharine McKenty grew up on her grandparents’ farm, ”Donlands,” then eight miles outside the Toronto city limits on Don Mills Road.  She went in every day to Bishop Strachan School, where she won scholarships in French and German.  After taking a degree at Victoria College, University of Toronto, she spent four winters as a volunteer in the mining area of post-war Germany with an international group of young people involved in reconstruction.  Later she was Research Editor for Pace, a magazine for young people, based in Los Angeles and New York, and linked with the international musical group Up With People.

Next came a stint as a speechwriter for the Ontario Minister of Education in Toronto.  It was on the dance floor that she met her future husband, author-broadcaster Neil McKenty.  They moved to Montreal when Neil was offered a job at CJAD Radio.  Catharine worked at the Reader’s Digest.  Later she and her husband co-authored a bestseller on the early days of Quebec skiing: Skiing Legends and the Laurentian Lodge Club.


In 2002, Catharine set out to find the Fleming family farm in Northern Ireland, where the Corey family welcomed her and shared their knowledge of the old Irish ways.  Catharine did much of her research in Omagh Public Library (Tyrone Constitution 1844-47, and 100th and 150th anniversary editions), the Ulster American Folk Park; the Ulster Folk and transport Museum, and linen Hall Library, Belfast.

Go check out the bookstore: click here

Jean P.


November 24, 2015

Polly Of Bridgewater Farm  An Unknown Irish Story

Chapter XVII

Londonderry, May 1847

Polly and the children had never seen such a city as Derry.  They spent hours clambering over the high stone walls that held so much history of siege and saint, of oak groves and daring young apprentice boys.  Even at night most of the streets were bright with the new gaslight.  By day, Ships Quay was a thronging mass of shouting sailors, baggage handlers, ticket sellers, fish mongers, and hucksters, all clamoring for the attention of passengers desperate to find passage.  It was an exciting place to be if you were young and held a ticket on one of the sailing ships floating at anchor in the safest harbour in Ireland.

The Sesostris was one of these.  A magnificent three-masted vessel built on the coast of Scotland, chartered by J. & J. Cooke, with an experienced captain, Mr Dand, in charge.  William could hardly contain his excitement.  At last, his dream of sailing in a real ship towards who knew what adventures had come true.  And perhaps one day ha would own his own farm.  the youngest children, Robert, little Maggie and the bouncy two-year-old twins Isabella and Rebecca all caught his excitement.  Young Joseph spent the whole day exploring the port with his father.

Polly and her mother soon retreated back to the shops of the upper town, looking wistfully at provisions they could neither afford nor take on board.

others were worse off; some families had long ago given up hope of passage anywhere.  Famine had hit hard and early in this most northern part of Ireland.  The population of the Inishowen Peninsula had been devastated, the workhouse in Derry overwhelmed by the number of applicants.

That night, Polly returned reluctantly to their dismal lodging that was so unbearably different fro the farm they had left.  She felt as though her inmost spirit was cramped up by the narrow walls, the smells, and the suffering she had seen in the eyes of children all day long.

She stood for a long time at the window of the tenement house looking out over the roof tops with the sun setting slowly in the far western horizon.  Then, to her amazement, she heard a familiar song, faint at first, then growing stronger, vibrant in the clear air.  There was a solitary blackbird perched jauntily on the nearby soot-blackened rooftop, singing his heart out with his special evening song, almost as though he had deliberately chosen her for an audience.  For nearly an hour she listened entranced, beckoning her mother and Eliza to joint her.  Through all that followed, she would never forget the blackbird’s song.


What a splendid book … What a delightful story … I could feel the slushy peat field … I could smell the rain coming.”

M. O’Gallagher

Available here: click here


September 27, 2015

Who is Polly or Aunt Polly for some?

Since it was the author’s birthday not too long ago, I decided to encourage you to get to know Polly.

POLLY OF BRIDGEWATER FARM, AN UNKNOWN IRISH STORY”, is a wonderful true story about a bubbly little girl born in 1837 near Dromore, Northern Ireland. Ten years later, due to great famine and destruction, Polly and her family migrated to Canada.  Here is a glimpse of her early life in Ireland:

And now, to keep Polly from being lonesome away from home, in the big bed in the loft of their grandparents’ house, Eliza whispered another story to her from olden times of three Scottish princesses who fell in love with three Irish princes.  Eliza rose to her full height, waved her arms with the drama of it all, her golden hair shimmering in the moonlight as she described the tragedy, the death of the three princes in battle, and the heartbreak of the three princesses as they turned their faces into the ground to die on the spot of grief.  Polly wiped a tear from her eyes as the glorious story ended, then promptly fell asleep, curled up beside her sister in the old house with an owl hooting gently outside in the starlit night.”


Here is a link for the book: click here