Podcast: In Time for St. Patrick’s Day, Haverhill’s O’Malley Discusses ‘So Far from Home…’

“So Far from Home” by Patricia Trainor O’Malley.

St. Patrick’s Day is a day of celebration, but many arriving Irish in the late 19th century had to cope with loneliness.

Retired professor Patricia Trainor O’Malley, who spent years teaching at the now-closed Bradford College in Haverhill, reflects on the times in her book, “So Far from Home: Letters from Ireland to Family in America.” It is based on more than 200 letters sent to her grandparents in the 1880s and 90s when they first emigrated to Haverhill. The letters tell wonderful stories, written by ordinary people, O’Malley says while appearing during a recent interview on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program.

“Poor farmers, fisherman cousins, young women writing to their cousin over in America, filled with sadness because of a lot of  ‘We’ll never see you again’ comments or ‘Things are very tough, can you send us some money?’ comments, but there are also comments from a sister in Ireland talking about young people gathering around the house on a Sunday so they could dance out on the grass or sing or play ball. All these people were making fun for themselves despite the lack of whatever,” she relates.

She says the letters were thought to be lost, but were discovered in 1990.

She took time to share her memory of when WHAV first started broadcasting from WHAV building at 30 How St., in downtown Haverhill.

“I remember all of the excitement about the new radio station growing up. In the early years, there were a number of local shows and the people would come on to do amateur contests, things of that sort. So, my piano teacher had me on there two or three times to perform. I actually earned a grand total of three silver dollars, one time, for coming in second or third. Wonderful. It was a big deal in those days,” she remembers.

O’Malley has written 10 books over the years with “So Far from Home” being her latest. Others are “Italians in Haverhill,” “Bradford: The End of an Era,” “Haverhill, Massachusetts: From Town to City,” “Haverhill, Massachusetts: A New England City,” “Bradford College (Campus History),” “Irish in Haverhill, Massachusetts” and “Haverhill’s Immigrants at the Turn of the Century.” Many are available on Amazon by searching her name.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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