The Emerald Isle is the ship that Francis O’Neill worked as a steward on when he first travelled to New York in the late 1860s. The ship is famous in the annals of Mormon history for bringing a total of 1280 Mormons in three voyages across the Atlantic. The last crossing, in 1868, was particularly cruel, where:
the water became stagnant and unfit for use, causing much sickness among the emigrants. No less than thirty- seven deaths occurred. Although many children died of measles, it was felt that the drinking water contributed to the high death rate.*
O’Neill himself records in his memoirs of his time on the ship:
It may be worthy to note that I was paid for coming to America and therefore not an emigrant; that I landed without a coat on my back, having been a victim of thieves; and that I formed acquaintances on that trip that I have been matrimonially associated with for more than half a century.*
The last reference is to his wife, Anna Rodgers, whom he met on board.