The story of my ancestors I never met. Here it is as I was told.
Ireland. So long ago it's a faded memory. One of shadows, sickness, and agony.
They say it is a beautiful country, walking the streets that we cobbled together with our raw, bleeding hands; they say it is stunning as they admire the stunning greenery, unaware that in our starvation we gnawed at the grass for sustenance.
They are correct. Today, it is a beautiful country. But they do not understand the earth they stand on.
They do not understand.
Ireland. The 1800s.
Wild dogs lurked on the edges of the streets, ribs prominent under mangy skin, feeding on human bodies scattered across the cities. The children pawed at the dirt, their eyes empty shells. Mothers, their newborns limp in their arms.
Before, we were not allowed to practice our religion. Now, we were not allowed to eat.
One million were dead.
My great-great grandfather had boarded a ship crammed with living and dead and had made it to America. Penniless, homeless, unemployed and living on the side of the street, he took a bite of the first food he'd had in weeks. He was not welcomed, but he could eat.
His wife and children were still in Ireland. Upon trying to leave, they were shot at as they dropped down over a wall. The bullets grazed them, all except one -- a young boy. Paralysed. They were forced to turn back, comforting him until he died.
They tried again and this time made it, crossed the sea to America, and dropped the cowhide they'd chewed on for food for other, edible scraps of meat. Though their futures were still bleak -- the Irish immigrants would work nearly as slaves to the Americans -- they had food.