John Harland (b. 1854) was a farmer, businessman and grocer in the village of Bessbrook
in Co. Armagh. He was the agent who provided tickets for steamship companies such
as the White Star Line.
Tom, Willie, Jack and Wallace were the sons of his first marriage. Each of them was
to find a wife in a different continent:- Tom married a South African, Willie an
Australian, and Jack an American; while Wallace, after spending several years in
New York and then serving in the British Army during the Great War, returned to Ireland
to marry his girlfriend from their schooldays together. She, too, had been part of
This story is rather unusual because this family, although so widely dispersed,
kept in constant communication with each other down the years. Any reasons for this
limpet-like behaviour remain obscure but perhaps explanationsmay be found in some
snippets about the human geography and history of Ireland - see the Background section.