Irish emigrant’s diary from a six week voyage to Australia in 1914

Diary extracts from James Patrick McCormick who traveled to Australia 103 years ago

These are extracts from the diary of James Patrick McCormick (20), son of Thomas and Mary (neè Pender) McCormick, on the family’s emigration voyage to Australia in 1914. With them went Tom and Katie Gannon, James’s first cousins and my granduncle and grandaunt. James made a daily entry in his diary throughout the six-week voyage. They left Ireland exactly 103 years ago.

Left home at half past seven, the 15 April 1914. In on the train at Borris, [Carlow], at eleven o’clock, met the Gannons in Kilkenny and went on to Waterford . . . At nine o’clock we went on to Rosslare Harbour . . . on the boat at half past eleven . . . arrived in Fishguard at a quarter after three. Went on to London– travelled for six hours. We saw a great lot of sights . . . one of them Sutton and Sons, where Mick Doran gets his seeds . . . spent all day and all night in London . . . Got up Friday morning at 6 o’clock, took the train . . . arrived in Tilbury docks. Got in on the big Indrapura . . . set sail at a quarter after one o’clock.

Tuesday 21st. Danced a few sets and reels. We only know about 10 Irish yet.

Sunday 26th. Had a church service on deck at 10 o'clock. Had a rosary at 9 o'clock at night. We and a lot of other passengers slept out on deck all night, we could not stop on the lower deck with the heat.


Tuesday 28th. We have now crossed the Equator. Warmer than any of the days passed.

Friday, May 1st. We have a Scotch boy in prison for three days on bread and water for going against Captain's rules.

Tuesday 5th. Got to know a boy from Bagenalstown and a girl from Waterford.
Thursday 7th. Landed in Cape Town. Spent the day going around the town, went to a great theatre at night. Back on board at twelve o'clock.

Saturday 9th. Everybody must take a bath today whether they like it or no . . . ten big Scotch men would go around and every dirty fellow they could catch they would bring them on and give them a good bath.

Friday 15th. We have to keep on the lower deck . . . could not stay on the top one with the cold.

Saturday 23rd. This evening we had a great Scotch concert in the dining room.

Wednesday 27th. Got up at 4 o'clock, we are landed in Melbourne.