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Irish - Canuck -Yankee

C. John Sparling



701-727 DEARBORN ST.




(•'Doing" Dublin.)

"CA NUCK h a ptt namefot a Canadian; the mme as ' ' YANKEE,
kroaJly ipeakinfl, for an American.

PURPOSE OF iVORK—Amtxiing; HiUorical; Educational.



i a«l

The Irish and Irish- Americans


The English


The Scotch


The Canadians


The Yankees


Contrast and Criticism


Nine Vo}fages Across the Atlantic


Tenth Voyage.


Eleventh Vo\^ge


Chicago to the Southern Cross and back




Irish — Canuck— Yankee Outside Cover

Author 2

A Tippcrary Farmhouse 4

A Tipperary Neighbour 7

A Limerick Man 30

Irish Girls ^6

Irish Youth and Beauty ^9

North of Ireland Girls 50

South of Ireland Girls 57

An American Heiress 68

Boozing and Posing 96

Hoofing the Prairie 128

A Canada Barn Raising 140

For Fishing on Sunday 146

American "Hobos " 208

American Citizens 266

American Cities 268

"Irish Femininity" 329

An Ocean-Going Palace 367



Ole Oleson, a Scandinavian (Swede, I think), was a
new arrival in one of the northwestern states of Amer-
ica, possibly Minnesota.

Att«*ndin^' an i-vangclistic service, the revivalist
invited him to come forward to the penitent bench,
thereby hoping' to be the means of leading Ole into a
bfttrr life. Proving ratb.-r inditTerent to the preacher's
pleadings, the evangelist argued with him about as

"Ole, you were lat.'ly eaught up in a cyclone, car-
ried some distanei', and suddenly dropped." "I vas,"
says the newcomer. "Well, only for the Lord was with
ytm-all the time while you were in the air, and miracu-
lously saved you, you would have been dashed to death.
Now you want to live right, so that you will be always
ready. Th<'r«'fore, come to thf front."

Having thus listened attentively, our Scandinavian
friend finally broke out in the peculiar English so
typical of that nationality in this wise: "Val den, ef
de Lord vas vit me all dat time, lie bane 'goin' som.' "

Going Galore

So it has been with the writer. For the last twenty-
five years I have been in clase touch with the Irish,
Irish-Americans, English, Scotch, Canadians and



My travels and fields of endeavor have covered the
British Isles, Canada east and Canada west, and the
United States from coast to coast.

My earliest industry abroad included labor upon
the bush-whacked farms of Ontario, and toil on the
wind-swept plains of Manitoba.

During the twenty years of my business career in
the United States, restlessness, untainted by idlonoss,
was my record. Very few of America's great indus-
tries have escaped a slight touch from me.

Beginning with railroading, I restlessly and ambi-
tiously kept on, changing from one occupation to
another and from one proposition to something newer
and later, always active, never idle.

Commercial clerkships in business offices, such as
railroads, banks, commission houses, real estate and
other lines, occupied some of my years. Then again
I became a stenographer and typewriter, newspaper
correspondent, business manager of a large sanitarium,
private secretary to captains of industry and million-
aires, mine-manager in a western mining camp far
beyond the Rocky Mountains, and finally a land col-
onizer in the prairie parts of the Canadian northwi'st.
In all of these various fields of usefulness I "made
good." But in so doing I only did what thousands of
others have done and are doing.

However, every man must be made up of two parts.
These are the business and social sides of life. There-
fore, I always ("ffl^idered it my duty to be identified
with other problems, too. Thus I took more or less
interest in church work, club life, politics and poli-
ticians, public and semi-public affairs, and to an extent
took a personal interest in all matters of moment per-
taining to everyday life, whether directly or indirectly

With this brief summary, I will pass on.




Tipperary and Prairie

Tipperao' (Ireland) was the scene of my earliest
activities. Since that time I have sojourned on many
plains and prairies.

Semi-orphaned young, my father remarried. But
the proud possession of a stepmother, with the later
additions of several half brothers and one half sister,
were not sufficient inducements to deter me from
endeavoring to break away from home for the purpose
of joining the British army, as this partieular outlet
has proven the means of escape for many a young
Irishman when tired of home ties and home sur-

Although three times, within a very short time,
I ran away from home, ere I was eighteen years of age,
to become a military man, my mission miserably mis-
carried each time, owing to some technicality having
to be gone through on the part of the recruiting author-
ities before being finally sworn in. :Mcanwhile I con-
tracted a case of "cold feet" and returned home.

Outside of these boyish escapades, my youthful
career was very little different from that of all others,
born and brought up amid the same Irish environments.
But, of course, I was considered wayward.

My full brother— I had but one— and myself were,
as youngsters, always deemed of the rather wild vari-
ety. However, we never behaved ourselves in any
seriously improper manner, nor committed wrongful
offenses against our neighbors, although, possibly, we
may have annoyed some of them at times with
playful pranks or tricks. Thus we retained the friend-
ship and goodwill of all our old neighbors and friends,
and kept on a friendly footing with them, which seems
quite an unusual thing in Ireland, as many near neigh-
bors often refuse to keep on speaking terms with one


another. Particularly in country districts do we find
these annoyingly unpleasant conditions existing.

Schooled at a small crossroads Protestant parochial
school, somewhat of a private character, we were not
brought into very close contact with scholars of the
national schools. But in all other respects we were
on an equal footing, and always the best of friends,
without the slightest show of religious differences or
animosity whatever.

Girls, guns, horses, dogs and donkeys furnished me
with variety enough to get in pleasant times while yet
in Ireland. On all of these I never lost ray grasp until
I left the country.

My brother was also spoiling for flight and fortune-
hunting. So. long before he was even eighteen years
of age, he sailed for Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

He was not there very long until he sent me both
transportation and money to join him.

Here again my self-will and contrary nature as-
serted itself. I simply refused to go, eager though I
was to leave home for somewhere.

Continuing in the old place for a few years longer.
I finally picked out America (no partieuhir point), and
started off on Wednesday morning. Jime 17, 1885. My
father drove me early in the morning to the Killaloe
railway station, where I took the train for Queenstown,
via Limerick and Cork, sailing the next morning from
that noted southern seaport of Ireland.

At Home Again

About the middle of February, 1889, having been
away from my native land something over three years
and eight months, I again entered Ireland at London-
derry, one of Ireland's northern ports.

The ruralistic steamship agent on the other side,


from whom I bought my ticket, incorrectly booked me
Queenstown ; but I got myself clumped off at London-
derry, as the ship headed for Liverpool, England, the
former being a southern route, while the latter was a
northern, so far as Ireland is concerned. However,
through the courtesy of the Allan Steamship Com-
pany's representative at Londonderry, this little mis-
understanding was amicably adjusted, and I came out
a winner, being forwarded, by rail, to Dublin, instead
of being sent to Queenstown.

Getting home again seemed a jubilant occasion for
me. Few changes had taken place, and the country
seemed about the same, as far as my immature judg-
ment could determine.

But I would be doing the friends of my boyhood
days an unpardonable injustice were I to pass on
without saying that my brief stay was made by them
most pleasant. During the thirty days that I prolonged
my visit I was treated and feted in true Irish fashion.
The cork of genuine Irish hospitality was speedily
pulled, and I was entertained and entertained. No
matter how modest Irish fare may be, it is given with
such a warm welcome that all else is quickly forgotten.

Despite all the native generosity and goodness of
my Irish entertainers, I could not stay. Accordingly,
I cut my visit very short, and again departed for
America, once more sailing from Queenstown, in the
early part of March, 1889.

For fifteen long years now I practically severed my
connection with the homeland altogether. But I had
not forgotten it— no, not for a minute. Returning
again and again were uppermost thoughts in my mind.


In Paddy's Land Once More

Stepping ashore from a coastwise steamer, plying
between Glasgow and Dublin, I again gleefully entered
my native land, in October, 1903.

I now came with mature judgment, and also with a
feeling that I was abundantly qualified to size up the
Irish people from many viewpoints. Had always kept
more or less in touch with Irish happenings. Thus I
came somewhat prepared to pass upon Ireland's prog-
ress as it should show itself to me, for long since it had
become almost of international note that this rather
backward country had been making rapid strides
ahead. Nor had I gone far when it began to dawn
upon me that progressiveness was noticeable on every


Hardly had I touched Irish soil when I began to
make inquiries about home rule, coupled with other
public questions of national import.

The Dublin jarvey driver, who drove me, rather sur-
prised me by the apt retort he made when I interviewed
him regarding home rule. He unhesitatingly replied to
the effect that we want nothing of that sort in Ireland,
for Ireland was bad enough now, but if we got home
rule it "would go to the divil entirely." Further, he
added that if we had an Irish parliament "every man
that had a pound in his pocket would want to be a
'mimber,' and then there would be the divil to pay."

On leaving the United States it was my intention to
spend not more than six weeks away. But on reaching
Ireland, I became so agreeably surprised at the up-to-
date appearance of both people and country that I
extended my stay to fully six months. To say that
every second of this time was not thoroughly enjoyed
would be wrong. Day after day I walked around the
country calling upon, and poking a harmless brand of


fun at, the Irish peasantry, right at their own doors or
at their firesides. To draw forth their ever-flowing
fountains of good-nature and native wit was my keen-
est delight. Perhaps my readers would like me to
give a few original samples, or choice bits, selected at
random. I will try and do so, but don't be too modest
while reading them.

Some time after I had been home a few weeks, I met
one of my old neighbors, who promptly broke out in
the following rather awkward manner: ''What in the
name of goddlemighty. Master Chris., are you aiting
and dhrinkin' since you came home from Yankeeland;
yure gettin' so big and so fat, for when you came from
Americky you were so thin and so impty that you could
wipe your face with the skin av youre belly?"

Upon another occasion I met a neighbor woman, who
addressed me much in the same way, winding up her
speech by saying that I had much improved since
coming home, as "When you landed from Americky
you was hungry enuf lookin' to ait the petty session
coort, and make a shnap at the judge." Talking with
a chatty old lady, living by the roadside, whom I had
known some twenty years before, I incidentally in-
quired as to how many in family they now had. For
a moment she paused, apparently counting on her fin-
gers, then replied: "Heath, we haven't so many at all,
only tin in all, sir." "But that's quite a large family,"
I suggested. ' ' I — a, not so many at all, ' ' she exclaimed.
"Shure, Phil. Ryan, down a bit the road there, have
fourteen, and they're goin' to have more, but all our
family is born now, sir." Making exactly the same
inquiry of another mother of the same talkative class,
she said: "Faith, we have eleven, and we called 'em
all afther our own people, and if God sent us any
more we'd have to christen 'em afther some of the


But it is not along any one particular line the Irish
people excel in wit and ready answers. Nor have the
peasant folk any monopoly upon these well-established
Irish traits. True, the innocent country people nat-
urally take to a certain kind, while city folk, appar-
ently more careful concerning anything that might
savor of immodesty, present different types of native
humor. But even in the veiy best Irish cities, Dublin,
for instance, we can daily notice pleasing little inci-
dents amongst the most ladylike and refined. Here I
will undertake to give you a specimen of everyday
natural occurrences in Irish metropolitan life. To the
rest of the passengers it seemed a simple, humdrum
happening; while to the writer it looked like a pre-
arranged put-up job. One of Dublin's most beautiful
young ladies boarded an uptown tramcar. Taking a
seat, she, with a kind of vacant and thoughtless expres-
sion in her beautiful countenance, began pushing back
her rather unruly hair from her girlish face, simul-
taneously remarking to herself, and totally unmindful
that she was in a public conveyance, surrounded by
strangers, that she washed her hair last night, and thus
had lost all control of it. This exclamation she uttered
several times to the amusement of many of the car
occupants. Meanwhile one of the men passengers
wished to alight. In doing so he tripped over the
umbrella of the worried young lady, kicking it into
the aisle, she carelessly having let it slip from her
lap. Hastily turning round and facing the young lady
in question, he profusely apologized, by intimating that
he also seemed unfortunate, having washed his feet the
night before had lost all control of them. Few within
hearing even smiled, as they were far too well accus-
tomed to such daily occurrences to even notice such a
trifling one.

Dividing my time evenly between city and country


folk, I was afforded every opportunity of seeing the
Irish people and noticing their different methods of
living from all standpoints. Moreover, I became one
of themselves to such an extent that very little of
their innermost daily routine was hidden from me. The
more I saw of their sublime simplicity, the closer I
seemed to be drawn towards them.

As heretofore said, every moment of my time was
utilized in making a close survey of my native land, its
people, customs, and dail}^ life. Not for a single instant
did my interest flag in anything pertaining to their
well-being. No matter how grotesque some things ap-
peared, still I could detect an innocent and laughable
situation somewhere or somehow.

These six months taught me many things that I
heretofore lived in absolute ignorance of. With nearly
twenty years' experience abroad, I came to contrast
and criticise. That I fully performed this self-appointed
foreign mission, with analytical eye at close range, I
feel fully satisfied. With a trained and scrutinizing
mind I unsparingly overlooked aught, with a view of
giving my country and countrymen all they were en-
titled to, whether for good or bad, and without reser-

That this much-talked-of land and its interesting in-
habitants more than surpassed my most sanguine ex-
pectations in intelligence, education, natural aptitude,
keen wit, coupled with general cleverness, I now boldly
maintain. Here and now I unqualifiedly made up my
mind that henceforward I, for one, would accord the
Irish people that pinnacle in the world 's greatness that
rightfully and righteously was their due.

Imbued with feelings of good will, and more than
ever determined to stand up for the greatness of Ire-
land, the honor of her sons, and the grace and virtue of
her daughters, which were now but comparatively


small remnants of her past population, I again departed
for America. Taking shipping at Glasgow, having
arrived there from Dublin, I again went west.

Ireland Again Invaded

During the interval between April, 1904, and De-
cember, 1907, Ireland and her people were free from
my contamination. Howevei, further annoyance by me
was brewing. Accordingly, in the month of December,
or, to be precise, the day after Christmas (Saint
Stephen's Day), I again swooped down upon the Em-
erald Isle, stepping ashore at Dublin.

Though my stay away this time was not very exten-
sive, I enjoyed the innovation incident to returning
home immeasurably. Once again in the house of my
friends, I got busy.

Nothing particularly new or startling had developed
during my absence. Nevertheless, I never got up a
day that something new, and frequently novel, couldn't
be scared up. Being single, I could find both amuse-
ment and enjoyment in chasing or courting the charm-
ing Irish colleens. I came with "fire in my eye," inso-
far as having an amusing time at all hazards. Still
young, I could see no sensible reason why I should
not have a good time, even if it became necessary to
discommode others. Their feelings, likes or dislikes.
I didn't feel like wasting time consulting. They knew
me well, and not only me but my people back for
several generations. I also knew their natural bent,
which meant a neighborly desire to make my vacation
a pleasant one for me. Their native modesty led them
into the belief that they were humble, and those com-
ing from afar humbled themselves in mixing with them.
But none proved too humble for the writer to fail in
proper appreciation of their warm-hearted kindness


and hospitality. I considered myself what they call in
America a "good mixer" with my fellowman, regard-
less of birth, wealth, or station, and so adapted myself.
Poverty and pride were in the same boat, to my way
of thinking. Consequently I never failed to get a full
measure of real enjoyment from contact with poor or
rich, when such occasions presented themselves.

Thus starting out, I very properly secured for myself
a most enjoyable time from start to finish, amongst the
Irish people in general. Utterly indifferent as to their
class or caste, I could see good in them all. Honesty
of purpose, added to true Irish hospitality, no matter
how coarse the fare, or how humble the home, cap-
tured me far more than scarlet and fine linen.

A continual round of festivities were now inaugu-
rated for my entertainment. Barn dances, house par-
ties, which would eventually resolve themselves into a
dancing programme, outdoor dances whenever the
weather permitted, were a few of the pastimes indulged
in. Such occasions always offered a variety of fun
and frolic. Here again the Irish youngsters — yes, and
many oldsters — showed their hand at fun producing.
At a regularly invited dance — barn or otherwise — no
time would be lost, the floor being occupied as early
as 7 o'clock in the evening, and kept so until five, six,
or possibly seven in the morning, dancing being unoffi-
cially recognized as a national institution in Ireland.
But such entertainments are invariably interspersed
with story telling and comic song singing.

Attending a particularly jovial barn dance one night,
in pure country fashion, I could not fail to take note
of the many queer remarks passed from time to time
during the progress of the dance. Here I may men-
tion one or more. I am sure they will interest those
who read them.

After a long and animated floor effort, along towards


midnight, the dancers idly sat along the walls, drawing
their breath, cooling off, and resting themselves. Just
then the calm was broken by the following rather com-
manding order from one of "the byes": "Get up our

that our, Paddy and give us that song of

yours, and be quick about it, too, for we'll have some
good singers here bimeby and then we won't let you
sing at all."

At another time, when one of the best comic artists
present, and one who had a reputation for good songs
throughout two parishes, delivered his most fetching
song and sat down, one of the "byes" stepped up to
him, saying: "Glory be to God on high, if you can't
sing any bether than that you're a very ignorant man,
the Lord save us."

Taking pains to invite a lady, in whom I seemed to
take a special interest, to a bam dance one night, I
asked one of the lads to see that the young lady in
question got properly entertained while with us. Of
course, proper entertainment at a dance means a
goodly occupation of the floor, having for a dancing
partner one of the best male dancers present. This
lady being rather stout and heavy set, the boy I spoke
to promptly assured me that he would see that Miss

• got her full share of dancing if I would

only nail a handle on her, something like a jug, as he
was too small to swing her right. Feeling amused at
the ready answer, I let my friend take pot luck with
the rest, seeing that I was not a dancer myself. But
the Irish boy, no matter how countrified he may be, is
far too thoughtful to let any of the girls at a dance
suffer from neglect.

Farther advanced in years, more experienced in the
ways of the world, its people at home and abroad, more
conceited in myself to fairly comment upon the cus-
toms and manner of life of the peoples I sojourned


amongst, I assumed the task of bringing to bear all
these so-called talents upon my countrymen, in order
that I may be fully satisfied that I would do them no

New phases of noticeable betterments in every con-
ceivable department of Irish existence were unerringly
to be observed. I never came to the country with a
view of looking at things through the eyes of others,
or permitting myself to be swayed either way by preju-
diced parties. Coolly and calmly I sought information
along lines mapped out solely by myself. Fetching
with me an abundance of American hard-headed sense,
the people of Ireland did not find me inclined to palaver
them regarding their shortcomings. It was far from
my intention to pretend that their lot was a most
uniquely unhappy one, when compared with other na-
tions in the world. In this connection I may safely add
that my course was just the opposite. That sort of sym-
pathy had long since appeared to me as being an over-
worked and threadbare feature of Irish history. Too
often the people of Ireland had been led into the
absurd belief that they were being perpetually tram-
pled upon by their so-called oppressors. This national
view of conditions I could never countenance. Un-
doubtedly industry had languished, when compared
with their sturdy commercial and manufacturing neigh-
bors, the English and Scotch. But I quickly realized
that my Irish countrymen were more, by nature, in-
clined to the convivial than the commercial side of
life, which condition unfortunately brought in its wake
a certain amount of unavoidable misery. So deeply
is this characteristic trait a part of the Emerald race
that it does not seem to be able to shake itself off even
among Irish-Americans, in America, the very core of
modern commercialism.

Here it is just as well to add a word to the effect that


not even in the United States, where business influences
are so apparent on every hand, do the brave Irishmen,
so numerously found there, particularly distinguish
themselves in the commercial world. Their talents
seem to trend in other directions.

Self-confident that I had, after concentrating my
keenest gaze upon the people and their country those

Online LibraryC. John SparlingThe Irish-Canuck-Yankee → online text (page 1 of 28)