The Irish Famine experience – from a Montreal perspective – unveiled at UL
Archive of an era: Jackie Ellis, Embassy of Canada, Professor Don Barry, UL President, Ian Morissette, Director of Political and Public Affairs, Quebec Government Office, London, (front row) Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan, Dr Jason King, UL (Picture: Sean Curtin / Press 22)
By Anne Sheridan
AN ARCHIVE of Famine stories from a unique perspective has been unveiled at the University of Limerick
The archive relates to the French-Canadian Sisters of Charity who cared for the Irish famine emigrants in Montreal during the summer of 1847 and who provided homes for Irish widows and orphans.
Speaking at the launch of the archive, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Culture, Jimmy Deenihan said “These annals contain extensive and very moving eyewitness accounts of the suffering of famine migrants in 1847. Written in French and unpublished until now they were unknown to both scholars and the general public.”
Dr Jason King, University of Limerick, said the ‘typhus of 1847’ virtual archive makes accessible the stories of individuals and members of religious communities who risked their own lives to care for and provide comfort for Irish famine emigrants in the mid 19th century.
The Great Irish Famine of 1845-1850 resulted in over one million people perishing from hunger or from hunger-related diseases.
In the decade following 1846, when the floodgates of emigration opened, more than 1.8 million people emigrated, with more than half fleeing during the famine years.
The main annal in the archive is that of the Grey Nuns of Montreal which has been published in French in La Revue Canadienne under the title “Le Typhus de 1847” in 1898. The UL virtual archive is making this material accessible as it is completely unknown in the English speaking world.
The virtual archive can be accessed at: http://faminearchive.nuigalway.ie/