Dearest Mother, oh do I miss County Cork. America is nothing like our Ireland. I know you wanted me to leave but I still worry about you and father and my dear siblings. They don’t have famine or disease like you do over there. Oh please be careful.
The boat ride here was terrible. It was crowded with people, mostly from Ireland. Their bones rattled every time they would cough. Everyone was very skinny and very hungry. There was little food for everyone aboard. Nor were there any places to sleep. I shared a room with a family. Oh mother how terrible their story was. There was a girl, about my age, who would stay up very late and cry. It seemed mostly everyone was sick.
Cousin James said I can live with him and his wife. They are newly married. Leah, her name is. She’s a beautiful girl. You’d love her mother. Once I was off the boat the Americans checked my bag. They’re quite scary. They don’t like us Irish very much. Everywhere you walk there are signs “No Irish Need Apply.” They believe that many of us are uneducated and don’t have many skills to work. Irish men filled their jails and their lunatic hospitals. They believe we’re all like that. Most girls, including myself, found work as domestics. Working as servants for the rich.
Life in America is very different than Ireland. There is food and doctors galore. We’ve settled in a town called Boston. Boston is such a beautiful place. It’s very big and filled with all different kinds of people. As I write this I sit on a bench in the park just across the river. The weather is warm and sunny, unlike Ireland. There are bright blue skies and white clouds. Boston reminds me of Dublin. It’s a very busy place, with lots of people racing around to do their daily duties. You, father, and my dear siblings Finnegan, William, and Mary would love it here. There are lots of trees for William to climb and beautiful sights for Finnegan to draw. And young Mary, the dresses here are amazing. American women are very lucky. They are beautiful and they have the best outfits.
Everyday I get up very early and walk 2 miles to Mr. and Mrs. Richards' house. There me and four other girls clean their house, make them food, and run their errands. Beads of sweat are permanent on my forehead. My feet ache with pain everyday. It’s quite lonely in this big house. I work in the kitchen by myself. I have made some friends. There is a girl named Elizabeth, she comes from a small town in Scotland. She is a very beautiful girl, although she is always melancholy. She never smiles, I bet she has an amazing smile. She does the Richards' laundry. She hasn’t been to work in a few days. I truly hope she’s okay.
It’s very hard, not only to be an Irish woman in America, but to be a woman. Men are superior. There are no women in politics or government. There hasn’t even been an Irish Catholic president. I truly hope that changes soon. Women are not allowed to vote. They are seen as less than men and are forced to work in their homes and have children. That’s what men see women as. It’s terrible. I do not feel the same way. One day I hope to be in the U.S. government.
It’s getting quite cold now so I must go. I am sending love to Ireland.
Be safe xx
Yours truly, Erin Curley.