Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

Saturday Aug. 1. {1857} We were called early this morning with the cry of “Land.”  I sprang up, hurried on my dress and went upon the deck; but no land could be seen on account of the fog.  After breakfast I went up again and we were close upon it.  There lay old Ireland, a mass of black-looking rocks and soon we saw Cape Clear and enjoyed the refreshing sight of green fields.

August 1, 1857 marked Maria Mitchell’s thirty-ninth birthday.  What a birthday gift – her first glimpse of Europe after about ten days at sea having set out as a young girl’s chaperone for a trip abroad – and something of a college education as such a trip was believed to be.  Maria’s father side was from the Isle of Wight in part and I’m sure there was a further mix of English and Irish potentially in her – from both sides.  They had had a pleasant trip over but the sight of land – and as I noted, her first ever glimpse of Europe – must have been exhilarating.  Cape Clear is located on Cape Clear Island and after seeing nothing but ocean for ten days, rocks and then green, green grass were a welcome sight.