First Chapter of my new book
Unearthing My Irish Roots
My great uncle John (Sean) Judge was born in 1778 in Sligo County Mayo, Ireland, the son of Mary and Francis. He was 48 when he married Mary Ann Rafter, January 30 1826. She was 20. Mary's parents were distant cousins of the Judges. The Rafter family lived on the next farm over.
The arranging of marriages and all the mediation and diplomacy involved was known in Ireland as ‘matchmaking.’ It was regarded by many as an old Gaelic custom. It was in reality, a product of hard economic realities begotten by alien repression; the landlord system; the famine and the repeal of the Corn Laws, which some economists regarded as a greater economic blow to the country than the famine. Jack and Mary were one such arrangement. After Mr. Rafter died, since his wife had not produced any sons , they needed the marriage to guarantee Mary would be taken care of.
John or Sean as he was called, had spent his youth fighting the English and the Protestant Irish. He finally ended up joining the United Irishmen which also ended in total defeat. In breaking with O'Connell, Young Irelanders proposed to forge this renewed unity in the struggle for tenant rights and land ownership. Gavan Duffy recalled from his youth a Quaker neighbor who had been a United Irishman and had laughed at the idea that the issue was kings and governments. What mattered was the land from which the people got their bread. He said “Instead of indulging "Gallic passions" and singing La Marseillaise, what the men of '98 should have borrowed from the French was "their sagacious idea of bundling the landlords out of doors and putting tenants in their shoes".*
For the vast majority of people in County Mayo the eighteenth century was a period of unrelieved poverty. As peasant families in all corners of Ireland struggled to survive in the winter of 1846-47, desperate men, women, and children turned to the government’s doomed public works projects for survival. Charles Edward Trevelyan, head of the British treasury managed all famine measures. He shut down Indian corn depots throughout Ireland and banned a ship headed for Ireland with a cargo of corn for the starving populace, asserting that the Irish could not remain “habitually dependent” on the British government and had to learn how to make “Irish property support [redress] Irish poverty.”*
Charles Trevelyan, assistant secretary at the treasury (1840–59), is probably the best-known nineteenth century British civil servant. He was the author of the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms of the civil service and a key figure in the British government's relief programs during the Irish famine of the 1840s.
Trevelyan further contended that a full-blown Famine aid effort could “paralyze all private enterprise.” In short, he wanted Parliament to do nothing and let Ireland figure out a “free-market” solution, a stance that was to have catastrophic consequences for the Irish. Some members of the British government saw the Great Irish Famine as an act of God, meant to punish the Irish people and destroy Irish agriculture. Many historians state that the Irish Catholics were looked down on by the British as less than human. The year 1847, referred to as Black 47 has been compared to the Jewish holocaust.
Thousands upon thousands struggled through seven terrible years of famine, Ireland’s poetic landscape authored tales of the horrific events. Barefoot mothers with clothes dripping from their bodies clutched dead infants in their arms as they begged for food. Wild dogs searching for food fed on human corpses. The country’s legendary 40 shades of green stained the lips of the starving who fed on tufts of grass in a futile attempt for survival. Desperate farmers sprinkled their crops with holy water, and hollow figures with eyes as empty as their stomach scraped Ireland’s stubbled fields with calloused hands searching for one, just one, healthy potato. Typhus, dysentery, tuberculosis and cholera tore through the countryside as horses maintained a constant march carting spent bodies to mass graves.
Trevelyan believed that the famine was God’s way of punishing the Irish population. He said: “The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.”
More than just the pestilence was responsible for the Great Hunger. A political system ruled by London and an economic system dominated by British absentee landlords were co-conspirators. For centuries British laws had deprived Ireland’s Catholics of their rights to worship, vote, speak their language and own land, horses and guns. Now, with a famine raging, the Irish were denied food. Under armed guard, food convoys continued to export wheat, oats and barley to England while Ireland starved.
The onset of 1847 found some 500,000 Irish laboring to build stone roads that led to nowhere throughout rural regions. The men smashed boulders with heavy hammers and were paid piece-work for every basket they could fill. Women and children lugged the baskets to meandering road beds where the stones were dumped. With one of the harshest winters in Irish memory unleashing one storm after another, bitter gales, snow, and sleet battered the road crews. Men, women, and children, weakened from hunger, clad in rags, and barefoot in many cases, collapsed with fever amid the piles of stone and froze to death where they fell.
John signed up for the stone brigade, desperate to support his family. The paltry pay allotted by the Crown proved barely enough to feed workmen and their families, especially as food prices soared. Coarse corn meal coast three times its pre-Famine price, but desperate Irishmen had nowhere to turn except the back-breaking road work.
John was determined to avoid the workhouse (the site now occupied by Ballina District Hospital), provided for the paupers and destitute during the famine and was further expanded to meet the demands of the area. The boundary walls of the workhouse ran along today's Lord Edward Street and down the length of the road facing today's Convent School.
John knew he was blessed to own his small plot of land. He prayed to St. Patrick and sprinkled his crops with holy water* He was forced to kill off his livestock to survive. Mary often boiled nettles and the family had this as a broth for dinner. This became very common during the Famine. Thousands of Irish emigrated to other countries to escape what seemed like genocide by starvation. The Judge family stayed and survived those terrible years.
Mary and Jack had seven children . A family of four girls and four boys , John Jr. ,Winifred, Rose, Sean Francis, Bridget, Catherine, and Paul. Two of the children did not survive the famine, John and Rose. John (Jack) Judge was able to keep his farm and raise his family on his land until he died in 1864 in Sligo, Mayo,Ireland, having lived a long life of 86 years.
The Author Marie (Mimi) Tallo Brier was born in Scranton, PA in 1948. She grew up on the South Side of town. She has worked since she was a young girl as a cocktail waitress, bartender, medical assistant, insurance-underwriter, business owner and a counselor for the disabled.
She graduated from University of Scranton with a BS in Health and Human Services. Marie was a Living Skills Facilitator working with the disabled and teaching life skills to adults with TBI (traumatic brain injuries) and Cerebral Palsy. After retiring, she served as the Women’s Liaison in the Lackawanna County Drug Court. She was Co-Coordinator for Unity of the Palm Beaches prayer chaplains. Marie was co-founder of "Circle of Friends", volunteers helping the elderly in her community. She is now Director of Community Relations for the non-profit "Love in Action" She is working on her next book, "Unearthing My Irish Roots." She also has several series on Vella :"Resilience and Resolve", "The Judges of County Mayo" and "The American Scanlin's".
“Raised by Wolves Trapped by Demons.” By Mimi Tallo
This is an inspirational memoir about surviving abuse and addiction. The topics covered include child abuse, disassociated amnesia, addiction, domestic violence, mental illness, recovery and spiritual growth.
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common causes of emotional numbness. Trauma and addiction were also on my personal hit parade. Many years of counseling, soul searching and gut-wrenching honesty have started to dissipate that numbness. I was able to break free from most of my demons. I no longer feel trapped. I now have many moments of happiness and a few glimpses of joy. Progress not perfection is my maxim. I wrote this book for the many marginalized women and women in abusive circumstances. My goal is to ignite the desire to live and grow, no matter the trauma.
Raised by Wolves Trapped by Demons is available on Amazon Kindle, Audible and iTunes.
I have self-published on Amazon and sold about 400 books since 2021.
I have also published five Vella essays on that platform.
My penname is Mimi Tallo
Buy it on Amazon.com or Call her @ 561-676-4017
Today I set an intention to know spiritual freedom through my awareness of oneness with When I claim this truth, nothing can take my freedom from me. Nothing can bind me to any thought of limitation. I remember I am made in the image and likeness of God. My experience of life is what I choose to make it. What joy, what freedom I have as a child of God! all that is. As I rejoice in this feeling, I discover I can be in the world but not of it. I am always free to choose my responses. The world’s affairs are but a reminder to pray, affirming that Spirit is in and through all things. The truth of my existence is spiritual. Although I am fully human with a body, mind, thoughts, and feelings, I am also fully divine.