AN ARCTIC EXPLORER: Jerome Collins

ONE OF THE AUTHORS OF THE FOLLOWING STORY OF JEROME COLLINS, AMY NESSUM (JOHNSON), THE GREAT GREAT GRAND NIECE OF JEROME ARRIVED IN IRELAND ON THE 24TH JUNE 2015 AND ARRIVED IN CORK ON 27TH JUNE 2015 UNTIL JULY 1ST 2015.

ON THE 27TH JUNE 2015 SHE PLACED A WREATH ON JEROME’S GRAVE AT CURRAGHKIPPANE, AT 2PM THAT DAY.

P1350722[1]

Jerome’s prayer book was brought by Curator Dan Breen from the Cork Public Museum for the ceremony. It was an emotional day for Amy, who has been researching Jerome for many years. It also was her first visit to the grave as well as meeting the people whom she had been in with whom she had been in correspondence. Also at the ceremony was Mairead and Margaret Garvey, Jerry Aherne, Tom McSweeney, Catherine Ketch, John Mulcahy, Catryn Power and Amy and her partner Chris.

Following the ceremony the group travelled to the Regional Park in Ballincollig, to see the poor condition of the weir, and the renovations of the park for the better good of the people of Ballincollig. Thanks and praise to Vincent Florich and Noelle Desmond for the organisation and planning of these facilities over the past number of years. Thanks also to Margaret Long whose wonderful Cafe Chico provided us with amazing coffee and cake.

.

P1350725[1]

Catryn Power and Amy Nessum Johnson at the grave of Jerome Collins at Curraghkippane.

P1350706[1]

AMY JOHNSON NESSUM LAYING A WREATH AT JEROME COLLIN’S GRAVE.

P1350740[1]

JOHN MULCAHY, AMY JOHNSON NESSUM AND RONNIE HERLIHY AT THE GRAVESIDE OF JEREMIAH COLLINS

.CURATOR DAN BREEN HOLDING THE PRAYER BOOK  WITH AMY AT THE GRAVE OF JEROME COLLINS

P1350710[1]

CURATOR DAN BREEN GIVES THE PRAYER BOOK  TO AMY AT THE GRAVE OF JEROME COLLINS

THE JEROME COLLINS STORY  By AMY JOHNSON & ROGER HERLIHY

The Arctic Explorer Jerome Collins' Monument at Curraghkippane, near Cork City

The Arctic Explorer Jerome Collins’ Monument at Curraghkippane, near Cork City

Transparency0004                                                                                        Transparency0005

In the old graveyard of Curraghkippane, a few miles north-west of Cork City, a tall Celtic Cross stands over the final resting place of a Corkman named Jerome J. Collins. In his day he was a highly regarded figure, particularly amongst his peers in New York and the Irish population there. His death in 1881 while on an ill-fated Polar Expedition, at the relatively young age of 40, brought a tragic end to what was a remarkable life

Educated in Cork by the Presentation Brothers and Vincentian fathers, he finished school in 1857 and went to work as an apprentice engineer for Cork City Council under Sir John Benson. At the age of 21, he was made Clerk of Works on the construction of the Benson designed cast-iron North gate Bridge. It was opened by the Mayor on March 17th 1864, by which time he was assistant engineer to Benson.

He then went to England and ended up working on an extension to Pentonville Prison. At the same time many of the recently arrested Fenians, including O’Donovan Rossa, Charles Kickham and John O’Leary were being held there. Collins decided to try and organize a break-out from the prison and he set about planning the escape, however the authorities discovered his plan and he left England and head for America. He arrived in New York sometime in mid 1866, quickly finding work and soon spreading his own Fenian wings amongst the Irish there.

Collins carried on his engineering work in America and through this he brought together Irishmen who were working with him, from both sides of what was then a very divided Fenian movement. In June 1867 he became the founder of Clan-na-Gael, the most important Irish-American organization of its day. Collins stayed in the background of the organization, particularly after the arrival of John Devoy in 1871 and Devoy’s  elevation to Clan Chairman in 1874. Devoy and Collins became good friends and they both ended up working for the same newspaper. Devoy sought his advice and support on issues like the Clan’s decision to rescue Fenian prisoners from Australia on the whaler Catalpa, the decision to finance the building of a torpedo boat by the Irishman John Holland, of which the “Fenian Ram” was the best known of the three Holland submarines funded by the Clan and the so-called “New Departure” in 1878, the radical decision to alter the Clan’s purely “physical force” doctrine by backing the constitutional attempts of Charles Stewart Parnell to gain Home Rule for Ireland.

By the mid 1870s he had become increasing knowledgeable in the study of storms and their behaviour as they travelled across the Atlantic, submitting articles to the New York Herald newspaper. He began to work for the Herald, becoming Chief of their Weather Bureau and by 1877 he was sending storm warnings across the Atlantic to the Western European seaboard with increasing levels of success, where it became an important service particularly to both shipping and agriculture. Unfortunately however, it was his studies in meteorology that were to lead him to a tragic end. The Herald’s owner, James Gordon Bennett, financed an Arctic Expedition on the steam barque Jeannette, which was placed under US Naval discipline and commanded by Lt. George W. DeLong. He hoped to be able to gain glory for his newspaper and in order to help achieve this he had his meteorologist, Jerome Collins appointed to the crew but the only way Collins could go was by enlisting as a seaman. A conflict with DeLong even before the voyage began was only a portent of what lay ahead for him.

The Jeannette set sail in July 1879 but expedition turned into a disaster, the ship was stuck in the ice for almost two years from September 1879 until it was crushed, and sank in June 1881 off Northern Siberia. The 33 man crew began the journey south to try and reach civilization but only 13 of them would survive. Collins was one of the unlucky ones, suffering a hard lonely death in the wastes of Northern Siberia on October 30th 1881. Eventually, in February 1884, the bodies of some of the crew were brought back to New York and a massive outpouring of grief took place. Collins was given a herioc funeral, where it seemed as if all the Irish in the city came out to pay their respects to their fellow countryman. Following requiem mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral his body was placed on board the “City of Chicago”, to be returned to Cork for burial. Alongside him was the body of his mother, who had died shortly after the expedition began and both bodies were accompanied on the journey home by Collins’ brother, Bernard.

The ship arrived in Cork on March 6th and following requiem mass on March 9th in St. Colman’s Cathedral, Queenstown (Cobh), the bodies were brought upriver and landed on the city quays near the City Hall. There a huge crowd awaited, consisting of various bands, societies, schools, clubs, members of the Councils, Nationalist politicians, such as John Redmond and Michael Davitt and the general Cork public. The funeral cortege alone was one mile long and a terrible gale and lashing rain accompanied it as it made its way solemnly through the streets on the four mile journey to the graveyard, all along the way many thousands of people lined the route, heads bowed and praying silently for the much respected son of Cork. Jerome Collins’ burial in the family grave at Curraghkippane ended the “longest funeral in the world”, the remarkable 14,700 mile journey from the banks of the Lena River in Siberia, over to New York and back to Cork, to the spot under the tall, north facing Celtic Cross overlooking the beautiful Lee Valley.

Amy Johnson is the Great-Great Grandniece of Jerome J. Collins and lives in Aurora, Minnesota USA. Her email address is johnson.amy@mchsi. com and welcomes comments and feedback. You can also visit her blog at http://www.anirisharctichero.blogspot.com.  Roger Herlihy is a member of the Cork South Parish Historical Society.

curraghkippane (2)

THE RESTORED MONUMENT  TO JEROME COLLINS AT CURRAGHKIPPANE, following conservation work, see below.

THE ERODING SLOPE IN THE GRAVEYARD OF ST MARY’S AT CURRAGHKIPPANE, ABOVE THE LEE VALLEY, WHERE THE CELTIC CROSS ON JEROME COLLIN’S GRAVE COULD EASILY SLIP DOWN, BRINGING WITH IT MUCH SOIL AND GRAVES, AND FURTHER DESTABILISATION.

A NEW FOUNDATION OF REINFORCED CONCRETE IS LAID UNDER THE CELTIC CROSS, TO PREVENT IT FROM SLIPPING DOWN THE ERODING SLOPE. THIS WILL STABILISE THE GROUND AND NEARBY GRAVES.

IRISH_ECHO_July_16th_part_2_2008

© 2012-2014 Catryn Power All Rights Reserved

Advertisements
21 Responses “AN ARCTIC EXPLORER: Jerome Collins” →

  1. Christine Conway

    April 1, 2014

    Amazing story!!

    Reply
    • yes, it is Christine, I think there is a film there………..
      I will pass on your comment to the authors Ronnie Herlihy and Amy Johnson.
      They may have more published……………

      Reply

  2. Sean O'Sulliovan

    May 26, 2014

    We have just buried our beloved father Michael O’Sullivan back in his beloved Cork, Ireland.
    Positioned to the left of his family grave is a Celtic Cross for whom Jerome Collins lays.
    I couldn’t help but notice this cross so remembered his name and did some research,
    What an amazing story, would like find out more about this courageous man,travelling back to Ireland in June from Oxford,UK, to have tend to my fathers grave and have a closer look at Jerome Collins Celtic Cross.
    Sean

    Reply
    • HI SEAN

      SO SAD TO HEAR OF YOUR DAD’S PASSING. IT’S A BEAUTIFUL LOCATION, AT CURRAGHKIPPANE, LOOKING OVER THE LEE VALLEY. HE IS ALSO IN A SPECIAL PLACE NEAR JEROME COLLINS GRAVE. I WILL COPY THIS EMAIL TO RONNIE/ROGER HERLIHY, THE HISTORIAN, WHO MIGHT CONTACT YOU. CORK CITY LIBRARY WOULD ALSO HAVE INFORMATION ON JEROME, OR CONTACT THIS BLOG WHEN YOU ARE OVER HERE.
      THIS GRAVEYARD AT ST. MARY’S IN THE TOWNLAND OF MOUNT DESERT, IS ON THE SITE OF A MEDIEVAL CHURCH, A MONUMENT; PART OF THE MEDIEVAL REMAINS ARE STILL THERE, WITH A NUMBER OF ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES; THE GRAVEYARD PROBABLY DATES BACK TO EARLY MEDIEVAL TIMES, AND PROBABLY HAS NUMEROUS BURIALS DATING FROM THAT PERIOD TO THE PRESENT TIME. THERE IS ALSO A HEBREW CEMETERY ADJACENT, STILL IN USE.

      Reply
      • Hi All! This is Amy Nossum (Johnson) co-author of the above. I’m soooo glad to see this online & welcome inquiries to my email address of johnson.amy88@mac.com. I apologize that the above email in the article is no longer in use. Ronnie Herlihy is an exceptional resource, & also gives tours of St. Joseph’s if interested. I’d like to express my gratitude to Ronnie, Catryn Power, Cork City & County Councils in helping to make the restoration project of my GG Granduncle Jerome Collins (& family) gravesite a success! There were so many people involved! …. and to think that I have yet to step on Irish soil, but I am still determined to come!

      • hi AMY, WONDERFUL TO HEAR FROM YOU. IT WOULD BE GREAT IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT WE DID FOR JEROME’S GRAVESITE. PERHAPS SOMEONE MIGHT READ THIS AND SPONSOR YOU TO COME AND VISIT, GIVE A TALK WITH RONNIE ETC!! YOU BOTH DID MARVELLOUS WORK ON JEROME’S HISTORY, CAUSE ETC.
        WELL DONE. KEEP IN TOUCH

        CATRYN

        PS. HOW IS THE CAMPAIGN FOR JEROME GOING?


  3. Mark Seidenberg

    October 13, 2014

    The grave sights has improved since I visited it in 1963. Great Pictures. It was during a landing on Henrietta Island on June 2-3, 1881, that the landing party lead by George W,
    Melville, annexed the islands, Henrietta, Herald, and Jeanette in the Arctic Ocean in the name of G-d, Secretary of the Navy and the President of the United States. On May 17, 1884,
    Major, Ezra W. Clark, Chief, United States Revenue Marine placed those three and to other
    Arctic Islands, viz., Bennett and Wrangell in the District of Alaska. It was George W. Melville
    that found Jerome Collins remains and returned them to America.

    Reply
    • MANY THANKS FOR YOUR INTERESTING INFORMATION.
      I ALSO READ WITH GREAT INTEREST YOUR COMMENTS ON WRANGEL ISLAND, IN REPLY TO
      Phyllis Schlafly in September 2014 on Russian/Putin attempt to claim Wrangel Island in the Arctic ocean.
      http://www.teaparty.org/putins-push-arctic-ocean-53860/

      Reply
    • ONE OF THE AUTHORS OF THE FOLLOWING STORY OF JEROME COLLINS, AMY NOSSUM (JOHNSON), THE GREAT GREAT GRAND NIECE OF JEROME, IS ARRIVING IN IRELAND ON THE 24TH JUNE AND WILL ARRIVE IN CORK ON 27TH JUNE UNTIL JULY 1ST.

      ON THE 27TH SHE WILL LAY A WREATH ON JEROME’S GRAVE AT CURRAGHKIPPANE, AT SOME TIME THAT DAY.

      IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN HER, I WILL ADD A TIME ON THAT DATE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, KEEP AN EYE ON THIS BLOG SITE.

      Reply

  4. Sean Dunne

    March 21, 2015

    Wonderful story!
    iM almost ashamed that as an interested Corkman I never heard of Jerome Collins! Luckily I heard an account today on UCC radio re his life and death so I looked it online and found this wonderful site! Thank You
    Sean Dunne

    Reply
    • hi Sean

      many thanks for looking at my blog, and your kind words; Jerome Collin’s grand niece is coming to Ireland in June 2015; she is the co-writer Amy Johnson (Nossum) with local author and historian Ronnie Herlihy of the story of Jerome; this will be Amy’s first trip to Ireland, and no doubt she will be visiting to see the north-facing celtic cross to her grand uncle at Curraghkippane; the cross was slipping down the side of that hillside graveyard. I got involved then, and the rest is history……………….

      Reply

  5. Sean Dunne

    March 21, 2015

    Hi
    Let me know if there are any events when Amy comes over to Cork! God bless

    Reply
    • WILL DO.

      Reply
      • COULD NOT HAVE RESTORED THAT GRAVE WITHOUT YOU, CATRYN!! WITH ALL THE RESOURCES FROM CORK CITY & COUNTY COUNCILS, ALONG WITH YOUR & RONNIE’S HELP, IT’S BEEN PRESERVED FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER 100 YEARS. I’LL BE IN IRELAND JUNE 24-JULY 4TH THIS SUMMER. WORDS CAN’T EXPRESS HOW MUCH I LOOK FORWARD TO “COMING HOME”. SEAN, I BELIEVE YOU HEARD RONNIE’S INTERVIEW WITH UCC A FEW YEARS AGO. GLAD THEY REBROADCAST THE STORY. MY ANCESTOR IS AN UNSUNG HERO & HOPEFULLY WE WILL SHED BETTER LIGHT IN HIS LIFE WITH OUR EFFORTS. WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST. ~AMY NOSSUM

    • ONE OF THE AUTHORS OF THE FOLLOWING STORY OF JEROME COLLINS, AMY NOSSUM (JOHNSON), THE GREAT GREAT GRAND NIECE OF JEROME, IS ARRIVING IN IRELAND ON THE 24TH JUNE AND WILL ARRIVE IN CORK ON 27TH JUNE UNTIL JULY 1ST.

      ON THE 27TH SHE WILL LAY A WREATH ON JEROME’S GRAVE AT CURRAGHKIPPANE, AT SOME TIME THAT DAY.

      IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN HER, I WILL ADD A TIME ON THAT DATE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, KEEP AN EYE ON THIS BLOG SITE.

      Reply
  6. many thanks, Amy, looking forward to catching up.

    Reply

  7. Sean Dunne

    June 16, 2015

    Thanks for update, God bless

    Reply

  8. Elroy Rafferty

    June 17, 2015

    Amy I am looking forward to visiting with you when you get back so we can review your trip! I feel that I know your Uncle Jerome well after reading the history of the Jeanette trip in your book. Thanks so much, Elroy

    Reply

  9. Terry Bernstein

    August 21, 2016

    My family and I visited St. Mary’s 10 years ago looking for my great-grandparents (interred in the Kelleher plot), and we were impressed with Jerome Collins grave site. Such a gorgeous view! I hope to return someday. Thanks for the wonderful post and pictures.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: