Irish Canadian Famine Research

Irish Canadian Famine Research

Category: Marguerite Corporaal

New Book on Irish Global Migration and Memory with Chapters on the Famine Irish in Canada and Montreal

Irish Global Migration and Memory Cover

About the Book

Irish Global Migration and Memory: Transnational Perspectives of Ireland’s Famine Exodus brings together leading scholars in the field who examine the experiences and recollections of Irish emigrants who fled from their famine-stricken homeland in the mid-nineteenth century. The book breaks new ground in its comparative, transnational approach and singular focus on the dynamics of cultural remembrance of one migrant group, the Famine Irish and their descendants, in multiple Atlantic and Pacific settings. Its authors comparatively examine the collective experiences of the Famine Irish in terms of their community and institution building; cultural, ethnic, and racial encounters with members of other groups; and especially their patterns of mass-migration, integration, and remembrance of their traumatic upheaval by their descendants and host societies. The disruptive impact of their mass-arrival had reverberations around the Atlantic world. As an early refugee movement, migrant community, and ethnic minority, Irish Famine emigrants experienced and were recollected to have faced many of the challenges that confronted later immigrant groups in their destinations of settlement. This book is especially topical and will be of interest not only to Irish, migration, and refugee scholars, but also the general public and all who seek to gain insight into one of Europe’s foundational moments of forced migration that prefigures its current refugee crisis.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Atlantic Studies: Global Currents.

Table of Contents

1. Irish global migration and memory: transnational perspectives of Ireland’s Famine exodus 2. Memory and John Mitchel?s appropriation of the slave narrative 3. Recrimination and reconciliation: Great Famine memory in Liverpool and Montreal at the turn of the twentieth century 4. Remembering Canada: the place of Canada in the memorializing of the Great Irish Famine 5. ‘‘Neither do these tenants or their children emigrate’’: famine and transatlantic emigration from Finland in the nineteenth century 6. Famine, home, and transatlantic politics in two late nineteenth-century Irish-American novels 7. Famine memory and the gathering of stones: genealogies of belonging.

Marguérite Corporaal is an Associate Professor of British Literature at Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands, and principal investigator of the research program Relocated Remembrance: The Great Famine in Irish (Diaspora) Fiction, 1847–1921. She is also director of the International Network of Irish Famine Studies that is funded by the Dutch Research Council (2014-2017) and based at Radboud University Nijmegen.

Jason King is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Researcher in the Moore Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His publications include numerous articles in the field of Irish Studies, with a special focus on Irish–Canadian and Irish–American history and culture. In addition, he is the coordinator and lead researcher of the Digital Irish Famine Archive.

Irish Famine Archive Home Page


The Great Famine and its Impacts: Visual and Material Culture


The Great Famine of 1840s Ireland left a profound impact on Irish culture, as recent ground breaking historical and literary research has revealed. Less well documented and explored, however, is the relationship of the Famine and its related experiences (migration, eviction, poverty, institutionalization and urbanization) to the visual and material cultures of Ireland. This conference, which is hosted by Maynooth University and organised as part of the NWO-funded International Network of Irish Famine Studies, aims to consider broadly how the material and visual cultures of Ireland and its diaspora (including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, architecture, film, dance, ritual, musealisation, heritage, archaeology) intersect with the multiple impacts and experiences of the Famine.

Taking a broad approach to the impact of the Famine on visual and material cultures, the conference will bring together scholars from various fields to promote new, cross-disciplinary dialogues and deepen our understanding of the Famine’s cultural history.

Confirmed plenary speakers:

Professor Fintan Cullen, University of Nottingham
Dr Jason King, NUI Galway
Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald, University College Dublin
Professor Chris Morash, Trinity College Dublin
Professor Niamh O’Sullivan, Curator, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University

The conference featured a series of special events and activities, including:

  • A reading by acclaimed Irish author and Aósdana member Evelyn Conlon, whose most recent novel, Not the Same Sky (2013) draws on the social and material history of the Earl Grey-assisted emigration scheme, reimagining the story of three young women from amongst 4,000 Irish girls sent to Australia between 1848-50.
  • A presentation by Moonfish Theatre Company, whose stage adaptation of Joseph O’Connor’s Famine novel Star of the Sea has been on a sell-out national tour.
  • A talk by screenwriter and playwright Hugh Travers, Maynooth University’s Screenwriter-in-Residence who has been commissioned to write a sitcom on the Famine for Channel 4.
  • A special tour by curator Donal Maguire of the National Gallery of Ireland’s exhibition The Pathos of Distance, a collaboration with artist Sarah Pierce exploring the visual history of Irish emigration.

The conference took place at Maynooth University from 14-16 of March, and included a conference dinner at historic Carton House.

This conference has been funded by the Netherlandish Organization of Scientific Research (NWO) and Maynooth University.

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Famine walk from Roscommon reaches Dublin

From Irish Times (April 22, 2015)

Walk, in period costume, commemorated 1847 walk when 1,490 starving tenants from Strokestown walked to Dublin and boarded a ship for Canada

Famine walkers reach Dublin

Famine walkers on the final few steps of their 155km Famine re-enactment walk from Roscommon to the Jeanie Johnston in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Patsy McGarry

As they began the 155 km Famine commemorative walk from Strokestown, Co Roscommon to Dublin last weekend, participants’ thoughts turned to migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. “While exploring our past we are always conscious that the experience is someone else’s present,” Caroilin Callery, one of the walkers, said when they finished the walk in Dublin.

The walk, in period costume, commemorated one in 1847 when 1,490 starving tenants from the Mahon estate in Strokestown walked to Dublin and boarded the ship Naomi for Canada.

“Seven hundred of them died at sea,” Ms Callery said. On Monday she got a text to say 700 migrants had drowned off the coast of Libya. It was “gut-wrenching”, she said.

Ms Callery, along with Patricia Rogers, Mick Blanch, Gerard Glennon, Bernie Kelly and broadcaster Cathal Póirtéir, finished up at the Jeanie Johnston tall ship on Custom House Quay in Dublin.

Summer school

They were met by Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys, who launched the programme for the inaugural Irish Famine Summer School in Strokestown in June. Described by co-ordinator Dr Ciarán Reilly of NUI Maynooth as “the biggest conference on the Irish Famine ever held to date”, it takes place from June 17th to 21st.

The Minister told the walkers: “You’ve brought life to history and history to life.”

She said the National Famine Commemoration Day on September 26th would be marked in Northern Ireland for the first time at Newry, Co Down.

“The Famine was an event felt by all religions and all cultures on this island. It was one of the most important events in our shared history, a bit like World War one,” she said.

Tim O’Connor, chairman of The Gathering in 2013, described the Irish diaspora as “a great global parish joined by geography and time”, much of it rooted in migration as a result of the Famine.

Schoolgirl Maeve Tighe read her poem The Journey.

Roscommon county council acting chief executive Tommy Ryan described Strokestown House as “a great asset” in an “unknown” county. The house was bought 35 years ago by Jim Callery who has overseen its preservation and the setting up of a Famine Museum there.

He attended the launch of the summer school programme with his wife Adeline. Their daughter Caroilin spoke of his huge personal and financial commitment to Strokestown House. “We’re extremely proud of him.”

After the Famine Walk, Caroilin Callery travelled straight to the inaugural meeting of the International Network of Irish Famine Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands:

Caroilin at IINS o

IINS group photo

INIFS Group Photo

Jason at IINS 2

Programme Expert Meeting International Network of Famine Studies

‘Famine Migration and Diaspora’

Radboud University Nijmegen

23-24 April 2015

23 april

9:30   Opening, Gymnasion (GN) 3

9.45-10:45:   William Smyth (University College Cork), “Famine, emigration and the

transformation of southern Irish society 1845-1916”. GN 3

10.45-11.15:  Coffee/tea

11.15-12:15:   Mark McGowan (University of Toronto), “Finding the People of the

Famine Diaspora: A Preliminary Report on the Strokestown  ‘1490’ in 1847”. GN 3

12.15-13:15:  Lunch, Foyer GN

13.15-14:15:  Jason King (NUI Galway), “Performing Famine Memory: Irish Theatre and

the Great Hunger during the Rise and Fall of the Celtic Tiger”. GN 3.

14.15-15:45:  Panel session 1, GN2.

Aaron Roberts (University of California Riverside), “Fleeing and Starving: Settler Colonial Biopolitics in Ireland and Palestine”;

and response by David Nally (University of Cambridge).

Pawel Hamera (University of Cracow), “ ‘A Good Riddance’: the 1851 Irish

Census, the Mass Emigration and the British Press”.

15.45-16.15:   Tea/coffee

16.15-17.00: Plenary discussion, GN 3. Contributions by Peter Gray (Queen’s University Belfast) and Emily Mark FitzGerald (University College Dublin).

18:30 – :  Dinner at Vlaams Arsenaal

24 april

9.45-10:45:  Laura Izarra (University of Sao Paolo), “Memories of Leaving and the

Language of Return”. GN3.

10.45-11.15:   Coffee/tea

11.15-12:15:    Piaras MacÉinri (University College Cork), GN 3

12.15-13:15:  Lunch, Foyer GN

13.15-14:15: Marguérite Corporaal (Radboud University Nijmegen), “From Restoration to Reinscription: Remembering the Famine in Irish North-American Fiction”. GN3.

14.15-15:45:   Panel session 2: GN2.

Frank Rynne (Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas), “The Returned American: Irish Americans, the American Diaspora and The Land War 1879-82”.

Caroilin Callery (Strokestown Park), “Memories of Leaving and the Language of Return”.

15.45-16.15:   Tea/coffee

16:15-17:00: Plenary discussion, GN 3. Contributions by Jason King (NUI Galway) and Andrew Newby (University of Helsinki).

17.00-18:00:  Goodbye and drinks, Foyer GN