Casey, Warren

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                                     WARREN CASEY
                                   By Beatrice Jardine


St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. It’s famous for its snowstorms. And it’s famous for the soft spot it finds in the hearts of those with a bit of Irish blood still coursing through their veins. The day helps remind Warren Casey of Barnaby River about his ancestors, who came here from Ireland years ago.

He’ll remember his roots tomorrow. He will be going to a dinner and dance at the RCAFA Wing in Chatham to celebrate. “I’ll be wearing the green. I love the color green - it stands out,” Casey said.

“Back in the ‘30’s the St. Patrick’s concert was a big event - something like today’s Irish Festival. They had skits, Irish songs and fudge. People came and stayed in the hotels overnight.”

He said his name was O’Casey, but somewhere along the way the ‘O’ got dropped.

“You can tell an Irish man by his manners and the way he dresses,” Casey said. “The older ones in the community keep the Irish culture alive. They talk with a bit of Irish. You can go down town Newcastle, sit on a park bench, and pick you the people who are of Irish descent. You can tell by their mannerism and the way they dress.”

Casey’s grandfather was from Cork, Ireland. He came to Barnaby River in the 1800s. Casey was born Dec. 11, 1916. He is the son of the late Jeremiah and Mary (Foley). He was one of 13 children. Casey was brought up in the old farm house on Rte.126 in Barnaby River. It was 100 acres of farmland, cleared by hand. Casey said his father worked hard. He walked to work and home again. He made $1 a day. Some days he walked 26 miles. He would leave about 3 a. m. to get to work for 8 a.m. Casey said his mother, Mary, thought the children were saints - they could do no wrong in her eyes.

“We had a great time living on the farm. We would argue once in a while on this or that, but we got along great. We bunked upstairs in one big room,” Casey said.

“We lived on a farm, which in those days was the only means of survival, and with Dad working most of the time, we all had to pitch in and do the work around the farm. There was always plenty to do from sowing time to harvest time and, in between, wood to be cut and split. Fences had to be mended, land to be tilled and made ready for planting, livestock to feed and cows to be milked morning and evening.”

In the summer, the Casey’s farmed the land and spent the winter months and early spring in the woods and log drives. The men in his family spent their summers at sawmills and rafting booms where the different company log drivers were sorted over and put in rafts and towed by water to their mill sites along the Miramichi. “I was too young to join the log drives here, but I did some in Ontario. I fell in a dozen times - a lot of the men working the drives fell into the cold spring water - it certainly woke a person up first thing in the morning.” Clothing was dried over the campfire late at night. They slept in little tents and cooked over a campfire.

Casey went to school and went on to graduate in 1934 from St. Thomas College in Chatham. He went there though an education fund set up by the parish. “I was one of the lucky few who had this opportunity, especially during the lean ‘30s,” Casey said.

Casey went to Thunder Bay, Ontario to work in the fall of 1935 and spent the next six years on and off working in lumber camps. He joined the army, became a forest ranger, and worked for the assessment office over the years.

He married Mary (Mamie) in 1947. She was a registered nurse and worked at Mount St. Joseph until her death about ten years ago. “Mamie was a big part of my life. We had three children and we enjoyed them very much,” Casey said.

“I try to keep the Irish culture alive in my family. I tell the children as much as I can about their ancestors - I am proud to be an Irishman,” Casey said.

Casey visited Ireland in 1987 with some friends. He said he felt like one of the family.


Source: Miramichi Leader – March 16, 1990

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