When both of their parents died within the year, it was enough for the Dolan brothers to seek out a new start. They had heard of what opportunities existed in the "new world," and thought that it would be worth the risk of the dangerous journey to find a new beginning. However, once Seamus heard about how difficult the journey could be, and how challenging it could be to find a way to settle, he thought he would go ahead of his younger brothers.
It had been over a year since Jimmy and Declan heard from Seamus, so they assumed the worst, and moved on. Jimmy married his childhood sweetheart, Rose, and began to think of ways that he and his brother could manage the farm to make a living. However, due to the famine and the overwhelming debts they had to pay from their father's attempt to keep the farm productive, they lost the land. Jimmy began to think of America again, and continued to hear from others how there was opportunity and possibility for life.
Jimmy took his pregnant wife, along with his brother and they boarded the ship to New York. They were packed like sardines. The conditions were worse than he could have ever imagined. The environment of the ship was so unsanitary that many died and even more got terribly sick. Before boarding the ship, Rose shared with Jimmy that she believed she was pregnant. The look on Jimmy's face when she told him was one of joyous surprise and introspective challenge. On that ship, Jimmy learned to sleep standing up so that he could give Rose an extra bit of room to curl up and lay down.
The combination of exhaustion, the environment, malnourishment and stress brought a terrible sickness on Jimmy. So concerned for Rose and the baby's health, he barely ate and gave most of his food to his wife. At one point, Jimmy had a conversation with Declan, that Declan didn't allow him to finish. In the middle of the night, with a small ray of light from the moon peeking through a crack in the ship and shining on Jimmy's eye, he said to his brother, "Decks, if somethin' happens. I want you to..." Declan interrupted, "That's the sick talkin' Jimmy! You'll make it."
They made it. Barely.