My Mother’s Trip to Ireland and Uncle Tommy’s Death

(The following was written in 1929 by my mother, Kathleen Patricia Smith Moore as a class assignment when she was sixteen.)

Kathleen Smith Moore (1913-2008)

 In the year 1916, Infantile Paralysis was spreading around the city.  Tommy was sick at the time, and as my aunt was going to the British Isles for a few months, it was decided that he should go also.  When it was time for him to come back, the World War was so bad that it was thought too dangerous for such an attempt.

 In March 1919, a cablegram came from Ireland saying that Tommy was sick and that we were wanted immediately.  The house was then closed and our passports bought.  For one week everything was all a mess.  We were hurrying here and there all the time.

Kathleen and Madeliene Smith (1917)

Madge (sister Madeliene)  and I had a great time going over.  We made friends with all the officers on board.  I started off, on the trip, by falling out of the upper birth.  Luckily, Mother was just getting into bed and she caught me.

Having arrived in England we took the night boat to Belfast, Ireland.  My uncle Hugh, who lived in Portrush and at whose house my brother was staying, met us there and we took the train for Portrush, in County Antrim.

Hugh Smith (Portrush, Ireland – 1924)

Portrush, Ireland (1905)


I didn’t remember Tommy when I first saw him, but I remember him very plainly now.  The first three months of our stay we went to quite a few places on interest.  There were three beaches and one swimming pool close by so we had plenty of bathing.  For one month and a half I went to a Presbyterian School.  I was then in the noble grade called, “The Infant Class.”  I went to this school to be kept out of the way.

Smith Home in Portrush (1924)

Thomas Francis Smith (10/5/1909 - 6/5/1919)

In the month of June, nineteen hundred and nineteen, Tommy died.  On the day of the funeral Madge and I were given almost everything to keep us quiet, but we knew something had happened and it didn’t take us long to find out that something.

 During the month of August, in Portrush, a group of men called the “Bommers,” came to entertain people on the beach.  These men were quite interesting, for grownups didn’t think it wrong to watch them.

One day when the people had gathered around the stage, one man who had been singing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” came forward to the front of the stage and said that he wanted all the boys and girls to sing the song he had just sung.  He also said that the boy and girl who could sing it the loudest and best might come on the stage and sing it for the rest of the people.  I, of course, sang with all my might and, having been blessed with good lungs, I was the chosen girl.  My partner, was a little colored boy of my own age.  Not at all embarrassed, I walked up on the stage and sang with him.  I shall tell you about my beautiful appearance.  I had no shoes on, (they were in my pail).  My face was thick with dirt and my hair was all tangled.  My hair-ribbon was soaking wet, as I had put my head in the water while looking for pretty stones.   This with a dirty dress completed my appearance.

When I got off the stage, Madge, who was with me, told me I ought to be a movie “actor” and go on the stage.  Altogether we thought the experience delightful.  But when we got home and told the wondering parents and relations, that was a different story.

Thomas Francis Smith Gravestone, Coleraine Cemetery

On the twenty-seventh of October, in the same year, we left Ireland.  We stopped at Glasgow, Scotland for a day and then went to England.  We heard that our liner was going to be three days late, and as we were two days early, we spent five days in England. The sea was rough coming over but we had quite a good time.  We met a magician on board who supplied our entertainment.  We stopped at Canada for an hour or so and then went on to New York.

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