Keegan Diary
Home Up Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Gerald Keegan's Summer of Sorrow, 1847 (Published 1895)


In 1847, Gerald Keegan crossed the Atlantic in from County Sligo, Ireland to Grosse Isle, Quebec, Canada, which at that time was still part of Great Britain. His diary of that journey, titled Summer of Sorrow, was published in Huntingdon, Quebec in 1895. In 1982, James J. Mangan wrote a fictionalized account based this diary called The Voyage of the Naparima, later republished in 1991 as Famine Diary: Journey to a New World.

Mangan's edition does not make the entire text of Keegan's diary available; however he does include a handful of excerpts from the original manuscript alongside his fictionalized version. A modern fictionalizes version of the ocean crossing is obviously of no use to us. On the other hand, the original 1895 edition, even if creatively embellished by the author, is still useful to scholars interested in eye witness accounts. The editorial choices Keegan makes in retelling his journey for a reading audience are perhaps as valuable as a historically accurate account.

More troublesome, however, is the fact that Wolfhound Press, which published Mangan's fictional account, notes that the authenticity of Keegan's diary has been called into question. Some scholars believe the diary is the work of two or more writers, possibly Keegan and an editor.

Keegan's diary entries make for absorbing reading. The editor wishes to warn her readers, however, that their authenticity is still in dispute. With that caveat, I present these excerpts from the 1895 diary for whatever their worth.


Taylor, S. (Unknown), Views of the famine: Vassar College web site. Retrieved December 1, 2001 from World Wide Web: