Luke James Browne – Travel Diary 1929

My Grandfather, Luke James Browne came to America in approx. 1914 from Ballinacree. (“We are the Brownes of Ballinrink” said he.) His father was James Browne. I transcribed a travel diary written by Luke in 1929 which describes his return to Ballinacree.

If you would like to read it, here it is.

I only know that James’ second wife, Katie Lee, was married to James at that time.

Some day I am going to enjoy wandering Ballinacree. In the meantime, I will wander the streets of the internet. I thank you very very much for posting such a wonderful web site.

This is transcribed from a handwritten travel diary written by Luke Browne (my maternal grandfather). It recounts the voyage he took with his sister Bea, back to Ballinacree in October 1929. His father, James Browne, was deathly ill and died when Luke and his sister finally arrived. James Browne’s second wife at this time was Katie Lee.

Editor’s note: I have done my best to transcribe the words even though some were hard to make out. When in total doubt, I inserted a “?” in the text.

Georgia Shaw, December 2003
(Grandfather = Luke Browne; mother Mary Browne Flaten; I married Patrick B. Shaw)

Luke Brown

Luke Browne in America with his wife and 2 daughters.
Mary, Margaret (nee Kelly from Galway), Winifred, Luke.
Picture taken around 1928.


By Luke Browne

Pier 54
Aboard the Berengaria. — New York to Cherbourg and Southampton
Weather: Splendid
Now 12 midnight. Bea & I having coffee in dining room. Tastes good – dining room very compact – fresh flowers on tables.

30 Oct 1929
Last night was cold. I had to get out of bed and pick up my bedclothes. Thought morning would never come. Got up at 6:50am – Bea had already gone to the wash room. We hustled and went ashore for breakfast. Almost missed Mom, Mary & Win. What excitement. We got moved to rooms on upper deck much better here. Just came down after drill and instructions. What to do in case of an emergency.

Lunch was good enjoyed it. Steward fine fellow. Now 8:40pm. Bea has already gone to bed. I just came down off the upper desk after having a stroll. A kind of deserted up there, weather is improving far and windy though cloudy tail wind blowing this will speed us home. All day there was a disagreeable head wind.

Dinner was very good. Six courses also had red wine with dinner. Now I really feel that we are going to see old Ireland because we are now far away from N.Y. What a hustle bustle we had preparing to come away. Only wish mom and the kids was here tonight.

31 Oct 1929
Awoke at 6:45 NY time. Washed and went on deck at 7:10. cloudy weather continue good sea like glass – Breakfast is scheduled for 8am. When Bea and I went to the dining sallon we discovered breakfast was over that we should have moved our time piece 50 minutes at midnight. However the steward got us a breakfast consisting of fried eggs plenty of good sm. Bacon, rolls, butter, marmalade and wonderful coffee.

To our surprise we now learn that Cherbourg is our first stop however we are satisfied as we will only be there a few hours. 8pm Just came from dinner there is music in the dining room. This afternoon after tea was served an orchestra came to the lounge. Music was fine.

1 Nov 1929
Awoke at 6:50 breakfast at 9 ocean time. Brisk wind blowing, quite a few missing from breakfast table, last night the sea swelled – boat slowed down for an operation for appendicidis on one of the stewards. The crowd is more congenial today. Bea went back to bed after breakfast, I took her some lunch to cabin. She feels a kind of cold but refused to let me get her some whiskey. She took an aspirin. 6:50 NY Time, 9:20 Ocean Time. Going to bed sea very rough. Im a little sea sick fighting hard to keep up wrather growing worse raining and waves lashing over decks.

3 Nov 1929 Sunday
Up on deck at 7:05am. Weather is fine. SW wind blowing. Bea is feeling OK again and was to breakfast. I was very hungry and enjoyed a good breakfast. Went to church up in First class sallon. Came back and got some money changed to English money so confusing for the moment to get used to it. Lunch bell has gone. So we must go.

4 Nov 1929 Monday
Heavy sea running, SW wind. Boat sways considerable. It is now 9am ocean time, AM NY time. I shall watch tomorrow for the Atlantic daily news to learn who wone the election in N.Y.

Bea did not come up for breakfast this AM. I must go down and investigate.

5 Nov 1929
This is our last night on board. We sighted Bishop light house. 8PM this is located out side Scelly Islands. We are now past Flatmouth and passing up by the coast of Plymouth, Bornemouth, Etc and will reach Cherbourg at 7am tomorrow. Then we expect to dock at Southampton at 6pm when we will get the train to Euston Station London, and expect to get the 8:45 for Hollyhead where we get the Royal Irish mail boat to Kingstown. We are enjoying the remainder of the trip. Still we are anxious to get home. Steward has been exceedingly nice to us. When it comes to civility and service one must say the English man knows his onions.

Went to bed at 1:10 midnight and got up again and was on deck at 4:05AM. We were passing Brest on our way up to Cherbourg. Twas indeed good to see land once more. France is somewhat flat. Fields very green and all neat comfortable looking houses adorned the place. After we dropped anchor men fast unloaded the trunks autos… After all passangers and luggage was cleared for the French port we turned around and headed for Southampton. Arriving at 1:30PM. After custom inspection we boarded the train for London arriving at 4:45. I was entirely disappointed with it. Not what one would expect but you would love to get out among the crowd and hear the Cockney accent.

5 Nov 1929
Arrived at So Hampton at 1:30pm. Passed the inspectors and rode on toward London through a quere looking mass of houses still they are very pretty and so different to anything I have ever seen. Railroad cars, freight cars and everything looks so different.

Landed at Waterloo Station at 4:45pm very much disappointed with the much talked of Station Waterloo – very dingey when compared with an American RR Station. The same things apply to Euston Station where we checked our baggage and went in and had dinner in a London restaurant then we visited some things. Took two bus rides as well as a taxie ride of the places of note including Strand, Picadilly and Trafalgar Square?.

After a long tedious journey leaving Euston St. London we arrived at Hollyhead. Bea and I were oh so tired, we got aboard of a boat called Hibernia which pulled away from its mooring in a good snappy fashion and we are now on our way to Kingstown.

Checked baggage at Amiens St. Station. Took train to N. Polla, went to the Greshham Hotel where we stayed the night. Was amazed at the modern and beautiful conditions of this hotel – awoke at 12:30 noon. Had a shave, took walk about town. Went to Cleanspv? in OConnell St. Had lunch in there fine restaurant. After we took a walk down by the old House of Parlament. On to Trinity College. The college was founded in 1601 by subscriptions from the officers and soldiers in the Army of Queen Elizabeth after the battle of Kinsale.

Done some shopping in Grafton St. Then to Kennedys and what a surprise. They almost fell over. Had tea and rashers – off to Amiens St. Station to go to Oldcastle. Then by Tea and Jeremy ? Browne who had a Taxie and Pony & cart to take us to Ballinacree. To our relief we found father greatly improved. Stayed up until 3am.

6 Nov 1929
Plenty of folks called on us today to welcome us back. We took a walk to Ballinacree church. Rain set in so bad.

7 Nov 1929
Was to Clontiduffy. Seen Uncle Kit and Rose Lee. What a welcome! Tonight house full of visitors.

8 Nov 1929
Today we had the trucking? Engin together with a gang of men. Bea and I drove to town meet a great number of people. I did not know them but Bea introduced them to me. Enjoyed our visit to Oldcastle. Turned wet this evening.

9 Nov 1929
Drove to Ballinacree church today. There was a great welcome for us from all the old friends. The fasest? came and held the pony while we got into the trap. West for a walk to Bobs Grove, Christy Plankett followed us on his bycle to hurry home that father got a turn for the worse.

Father passed away at 3:05pm.

James Browne

James Browne

10 Nov 1929
I stayed up all night. Big crowd at the wake. Things went well. I had done some shopping Sat as though I had a forewarning. Fearful wet today. I got to go to cemetery to chose fathers burial place. All friends very kind.

Today I bought a beautiful plot in Ballinacree Cemetery – went to Oldcastle. Had Luke Lee and Christy Traynor arrange with the undertaker for Father’s burial.

We took Fathers remains to Ballinacree Church with C Traynor reciting the rosary.

12 Nov 1929
Was to funeral Mass at 9am in Ballinacree. Mrs. Kennedy came from Dublin last night to attend the funeral.

Returned from Funeral. We had a cab then drove to Ross to Aunt Julia found her well. Her eye sight failed. Walked home. John Lee came a good part of the way with us.

13 Nov 1929
I went to Oldcastle today. Left Mrs. Kennedy at the Station. Payed funeral bills Etc.

14 Nov 1929
I was tired staying in bed until 11:45am. Dull foggy day, I did not go any place today.

Bea is packing my bag in preparation for my trip to Galway. I am eager to get there. Bea has arranged for a Taxie to take me to Mullingar. Bea & Katie is to come with me as far as Mullingar.

15 Nov 1929
Menlough Co. Galway

Fine weather until I reached Ballinaslo?, rain and terrific wind set in. Reached Atheny about 1:30PM. Took a Taxie to Vermount for the sum 15 shilley. Stopped at Laheens for refreshments. The Kelly family did not expect me until the following day. Horribly cold. Went to bed at 12 midnight.- Nice home the Kellys have. Had a fire in my room up stairs.

16 Nov 1929
Took a Taxie to Galway City today accompanied by Bridget Michael and BeSisted? Miss Rowan. On our way we called at Simon Rowan and at Patrick Potters. Then to Galway City salt Hill Clada. Etc. Parked the car in Eyre Square – had refreshments went about town looked over the Gr. Southern Hotel and Park went up to the hospital where mother died. Seen Salmons bridges County House Jail Convent Etc. was through the National University. Galway is indeed quite imposing, clean streets, it was the market day after having some more refreshments was headed for Atheny where we stopped at Mrs. ORieley’s where we met Annie Rowan formerly of 76th St. N.Y.C. Twas good to see her, we had Tea there. We then drove to Mrs. Cannon, Maurry? Potters Aunt and we were very pleased with our visit there; very nice people they made great enquiries about there folks in America including Mr. Cravise of N.Y. Back to Menlough where we stayed for short while at Laheen’s Casse? house and after we had supper we retired at 12 midnight.

Sunday 17 Nov 1929
Awoke at 7:30. Went to 9 oc Mass together with Bridgid and Michael. We walked there the morning was lovely hard frost. We went on this gallery we were on time. Nice church after Mass we went to Mothers grave which is just right of the door as you enter. It is the best fixed grave in that cemetery. On our way home I was introduced to various people including a Mrs. Potter wife of Martin Potter and sister in law of Eiotles? Of Far Rockaway NY. We are going today to Julia Potters place in Abby in then to Mrs. Collins Loughman. In the evening we will attend the closing of the Mission then to Mrs. Rowans — Bridget Kelly’s mother.

18 Nov 1929
Awoke at 8:45 had breakfast with the family and left for Woodlawn Station at 9:40 where on our way we stopped at Mrs. Gavin’s – twas raining. Reached Woodlawn 10:15. I have now passed Moote? Station and next stop is Mullingar.

19 Nov 1929
Took Taxie from Millingar & horribly wet.
Went to Oldcastle. Cold and wet.

20 Nov 1929
Took bus from Oldcastle to Dublin. Wonderful scenery on the way. Book two rooms at the Ivanhoe Hotel in Harcourt St. Nice place good food.

21 Nov 1929
Went to Maynooth Colleges back and to Trinity where we were amazed at the marvelous Book of Kells and book from 6th to 7th century in the afternoon we took the Belfast bus to Dundalk. Afternoon touring at bay. Home late Kennedys were waiting for us they had a peach of a party. Mary Lee was there. I took her home to 14 Waterloo Rd. Mary intends to go to America in the Spring.

23 Nov 1929
This AM I took the 9am bus from McBinneys to Killcullen met Aunt C. had lunch at the Convent. Was not able to call on Katie Lee as I would miss my train to Oldcastle. I returning to the Hotel Bea was out I packed up paid our bills and then Bea and I left our bags at Amiens St. went to the Metrophoto? Res. and had dinner. When we got back to ? St. Station, Mrs. Kennedy Mazill? Jim and Tony was there to see us off to Oldcastle. We are now on our way to Oldcastle.

24 Nov 1929
Went to Mass in Ballinacree. Met a good many folks whouse I was glad to see. In the afternoon Bea & Tea cyyabd ts fore abby & I went to Ned Taquans?. I was sure glad I made the call to refresh my memory of old times.

25 Nov 1929
Staying house today did not go to town in the afternoon I went to County Duffy to Uncle Kit. And to Rose Lee’s. I said fare well to them as Bea and I are going to Dublin tomorrow.

A big crowd came to the house to see us when word spread that we were going back some of the folks became aware of it when the seen Kate going to Oldcastle with our trunks.

26 Nov 1929
This AM a few folks called to bid us Godspeed. Tea Nell & Kseter? came with us to Oldcastle Station. We left Oldcastle on the wed day train. Raining in Dublin. We checked our luggage at Westland row station so to make it convenant for tomorrow. Called at Cook Tours changed some money then went to Kennedys. Had a great dinner. Mary Lee was there. Took the afternoon off for the occasion Jim Walsh & I left Mary Home at 14 Waterloo Rd.

27 Nov 1929
I slept well last night in the parlor. I was up at 7:10 when Jim came to call me after breakfast we said farewell to 121 Clambossil St. Jim & Magie came to West Moorland St. Station to see us off. Arrived at Kingstown got aboard a very choppy water. The sun was shining and the Emerald Isle looked even more beautiful than one dreams of. Bea got very sea sick on our way to Hollyhead. Our object of going a day ahead was so we could see England by day light. And to have a whole day in London after we got away from Hollyhead we passed through beautiful Wales what lovely mountains. You would imagine at spots that one would topple over on our train. We saw a great many castles, also a number of old thatched houses just like the ones we left in Ireland. We passed through many beautiful watering places. Towns & villages. But in justice while England is indeed lovely it cannot at all compare with the national beauty of Ireland. One must see the place of Meath, Kildare & Carl? Co. Dublin Etc to appreciate the wonderful beauty of that little country. The magnificent scenes of Co. Dublin including Black Rock, Kingstown, Killiney, Dalkey, Howth Bray with its sugarloaf Mountains it is just like a dream beautiful houses with wonderful gardens even abundants of flowers at this time of year, strange but true.

We reached London after a long tedious ride, one realize that he is in another country when you reach here, the so decidedly different folks you meet. All eager to help you. We took a Taxie across the City from Euston Station to Waterloo Station where we checked our luggage. Then we were free for the evening. We took the underground trains (as they call it there) back to Waterloo where we engaged room at a Hotel then we went to a Restaurant and had supper, next we went to King’s Cross Theater see C Chaplin in the tire man? – also a number of British sketches and a British detective picture of Scotland Yard. Twas very good also heard TP O’Connor in a Talkie denouncing war. That poor fellow is gone to his reward.

I went to bed at about 11pm and was called at 8:30am We had a good breakfast, had a shave in a nearby Barber Shop for the sum of sixpence. After some touring around we took a bus to the British Museum of History. Was very much astonished at the enormous size of it. It is bigger than our own at 76 St. N.Y.C. I was indeed very pleased to see quite a representation of antiques from Ireland which in number compared with Sweden, Norway Etc Etc. We also had the pleasure of been present at a lecture on Egyptian mummies, very interesting. Was then walked down Southhampton Row. This is quite a thoroughfare. Was then passed over the Thames. Seen the House of Parliament St. Pauls Cathedral and various other places. Then we got back to Waterloo Station where we had tea in a nearby Tea room, then took our place in the train for Southhampton. It is now 4:10pm.

28 Nov 1929
After we got aboard of the Giant Leviathan we went ashore to do some shopping that we left to the last moment, only to find that any shop of note was closed. We were horribly disappointed and have got to manage as best as we can.

We have had a regular Thanksgiving dinner on board tonight; and I was wondering how Mom and the kids were enjoying themselves. What a thrill to be coming back to my own.

There seems to be a lot of vibration I guess they are gathering up steam.

It is now 12 midnight I must go to sleep.

29 Nov 1929
Bell rang this 7:30am. We had breakfast 8:15. Wonderful surroundings clean wholesome no sickening odor of food. Just pulled out from docks engines are churning the water like forty six large tugs following this monster into position. We are headed towards Cherbourg France expect to reach there by 4pm raining on and off.

Pulling into Cherbourg breakwaters. Passed by two submarines manouveriung off the coast at Cherbourg. What a pile of sacks of mail this is a reminder that Xmas is near a great number of people coming aboard and what a pile of trunks. I guess like ourselves they are happy to be coming home. Everyone is in forward sroved?

29 Nov 1929
Left Cherbourg at 6:50pm slowly dragging away. It is of course dark and all one can see is numerous lights from light houses and flag ships down the coast. Getting rough and quite a few are staggering around. Tonight we put back our time pieces one hour. It is now 10:30pm. We still see the lights on the coast. They are now up on deck preparing to throw a wreath over board where one poor boy of 22 years was swept over board on the last westward voyage. I am tired and kind of sick. I am going to bed.

30 Nov 1929
Lovely morning but swelling sea. Quite a number missing from breakfast table.

I was sick for about half hour today. Bea & I both got deck chairs. Bea is holding out well. Half the people are sick. I am now feeling much better. Meals are delightful so is the dinning room but the weaiters do not attall know there book. No comparison with the English waiter. The social hall is immense and beautiful fine floor for dancing. The Hall as well as the dinning room is equipped with radio loud speakers.

This evening at 5pm 1 oc 9m NY time we had a programme from N.Y. a football match.

1 Dec 1929
Horrible sea running mountain after mountain, decks are topped and sand spread in case anyone dares to walk. Almost unbelievable that such a hugh monster as this is could be tossed about like a cork more than half the folks are sick. Bea did not appear on deck since lunch. I hope it calms down even a little by night fall.

3 Dec 1929 Tuesday
8:45am Sunday night was terrible. Rough and continued throughout yesterday and last night when we hit a real storm about 11pm. Fortunately for myself I was in bed or I would have had some time trying to get there about 3am. I thought we would be volley out of our bunks. This AM the seas is still raging but not as bad as the last two days has been. I got very sick Sunday so sick I was not able to go see Bea who has not appeared upstairs from lunch time. I continued sick until I took a heavy dose of medicine, and thanks to it I am feeling fine today. Sunday the boat was compelled to slow down to 10 miles per hour. It rolled so that when to orchestra came to give a recital it had to abandon it as the men could not hold there seats. The six men were thrown in a heap on top of each other one hurting his arm.

In the front part of the ship where the steerage is located the waves came in the hatch and flooded part of the sleeping quarters and because of that a number of the steerage were taken back to our quarters.

One of the clerks? died and is been bought to America for burial. How I wish to be home in N.Y. Looking at so many sick people one would wonder if they will all be well again.

4 Dec 1929
With rare exception everyone is feeling fine today. We had a lovely time last night. Music singing dancing and a few sketches. What a difference from what we had just passed through for the past few days. They tell us we will be more than a day late in reaching N.Y. but we will not fare it as bad as the Majestic which is partly disabled and only 500 miles ahead of us although it left 3 days before us from Southhampton. We were intended to book on it only it would be too great a rush. We are now happy we did not.

There has been no deck games since we came aboard due to the storm. However there are movies every afternoon on the enclosed part of the decks & right after the pictures tea is served each afternoon.

We all get a copy each day of The Chicago Tribune which is printed aboard. The news comes in by wireless, the paper we receive free.

5 Dec 1929
Thank God one more day and we shall be back home. What a thrill! Everyone is happy with an expression of relief within all over there faces. Yesterday at noon we passed over the banks of Newfoundland taking a shortcut in an effort to make up for lost time was passed by three fishing boats.

Last night we had a little musical comedy and tonight is scheduled for another, anyhow we don’t care what comes now. We are full of rejoice. This is our last night aboard. We had a farewell dinner. Turkey with all the trimmings. We had a dance in the Social Hall everyone feeling good and happy. Luggage is piled high on deck also mail. Ready for the morning.