But this wasn’t the only way that women were lost. Numerous living loving human beings were wiped from the records, even more completely, in the long lists of families who left the West of Ireland on the coffin ships of the 1840s never to return. These passenger lists strike a chill to the heart. Here wives and mothers travelled almost anonymously. There is no way of linking a wife on board ship with the family left behind. Whole families were gone from the countryside, carrying with them their memories, a storehouse of our past - such a rupture between their past and our present – some of them did not even make it to the shores on the far side. Others reached port only to die of fever and starvation, to be buried hastily in alien soil. Their names, whether of the living or of the dead, were also frequently recorded incorrectly. The names were misheard, misunderstood and misspelt. Families were lost simply because they became untraceable in the records. A variety of accents from Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Donegal caused identical names to be misheard and spelled in completely different ways by the recording clerks.
Both these examples illustrate in a truly terrible way the humorous proposal “Would you like to be buried with my family?” In this context it takes on a deeper and altogether darker meaning.