John (Jackell) Harrington was born in July of 1858 to John Jack Harrington and his second wife Hanora Harrington at The Cross, Derrycreeveen, Bere Island. He emigrated to Butte Montana sometime in the 1880’s. He often told the story that when he was heading west on the train and got tired sitting on the hard wooden seats, that he used to get off for a while and walk along the tracks beside the train. So one can imagine the painfully slow speed of the train in those days!
Like the Beara people who went before him and came after him, John got a job as a miner in Butte. Work was tough but they were well paid. He worked hard as a miner while in Montana and carefully saved his money.Thus he was able to send money home to his father John in Bere Island who bought a farm for him, where his Grandson Colum Harrington lives now.
Marriage and Butter Making
He eventually came home and married Julia Harrington (Caobach) from Kilcatherine, Eyeries Parish whose twin brother Paddy had emigrated to Butte like John but who never returned. The marriage took place on 13th February 1890 in Kilcatherine but the young couple settled onto their new farm in Cnocán Rua, Derrycreeveen, Bere Island.
Julia was a very capable young woman from a farming background. As a young girl of 18, she regularly brought firkins of butter to the world famous Cork Butter Market in Shandon, Cork City on a horse and cart. In those days the journey took three days to get to Cork and three days to return home again. Julia and others on the same trail camped overnight in fields along the way. At one stage she won a prize for her butter making. Her Certificate for butter making was donated by her son John to the Cork Public Museum situated in Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork City.
John and Julia had two sons in quick succession, Jim in December 1890 and Tim in December 1891. Both became emigrants themselves in later years as they emigrated to Canada while in their early twenties. Though John was a returned emigrant, he soon went back to America following Tim’s birth, leaving Julia alone to raise their two young sons. He stayed a number of years in Butte on this second trip. Following his final return they had their first daughter Julia born in 1898 creating a 7 year gap (most unusual at the time) between the children. They went on to have three more daughters Mary 1899, Katie 1900, Elizabeth (Lizzie) 1902 and finally another boy John in 1905, born fourteen years after their last son.
His daughter Mary, a National Teacher also became an emigrant. She married Valance Muir, a Sergeant in the British Army Medical Corps whom she met while he was stationed in Bere Island and following the birth of their first child Elizabeth, they were transferred to India.
John’s son Jim returned to Bere Island while on shore leave from the Canadian Army during World War 1, but John never got to see his emigrant son Tim again.
John died at home on the Cnocán on the 27th April in 1936 followed by his wife Julia on the 7th January 1941. They are both buried in St. Michaels Cemetery, Ballinakilla. He was one of the lucky emigrants to be able to return home and be buried in his native land.
Submitted by: His Grandson John Finbarr O’Sullivan, April 2012.