Irish Canadian Famine Research

Irish Canadian Famine Research

Category: Maria Monk

Launch of the “Saving the Famine Irish” Exhibit at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre

http://mtltimes.ca/saving-famine-irish-exhibition-comes-montreal-2/Famine-Exhibition-Map-FT5S

The Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation is hosting “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger,” at the Centaur Theatre from April 11th until April 17th. It is arriving from the Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, which hosted the exhibition, curated by Dr. Jason King and Dr. Christine Kinealy, from March 17th, 2015 until March 17th, 2016.

This moving exhibition tells the story of the religious orders in Montreal whose members gave selflessly to Irish immigrants during the summer of 1847 – their time of greatest need.

Many thousands of people fled from Ireland during the Great Hunger and immigrated to Canada, the only doors never closed to the Irish. Famine immigrants to Montreal were not only among the poorest of the poor, but many of them arrived already sick with typhus fever. Despite this, a number of people in the English and French Canadian communities provided the ailing and the dying with shelter and support. At the forefront of this compassionate movement were the Sisters of Charity, also known as the Grey Nuns.

“The story of the Grey Nuns, and of the other religious orders who helped the dying Irish immigrants, is one of kindness, compassion and true charity,” Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac and a professor of history,  said. “Nonetheless, almost 6,000 Irish immigrants perished in the fever sheds of Montreal. They had fled from famine in Ireland only to die of fever in Canada. This is a remarkable story that deserves to be better known.”

This exhibit is being hosted by the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation to help underscore the need to create a suitable memorial at the site of the “Black Rock” , which marks Montreal’s Irish Famine cemetery. This new green space would honour the 6000+ Irish immigrants who died and were buried in the area in 1847; as well as the many Montrealers who went to their aid, including John Easton Mills, the Mayor of Montreal at the time. He personally provided care and comfort to these unfortunate immigrants, caught typhus, and died as a hero. It would also honour the many brave French-speaking Quebec families that adopted more than 1000 Irish orphans, resulting in an estimated 40% of Quebecers having Irish ancestry today.

WWL

 

 

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“Saving the Famine Irish” Exhibition comes to Montreal

http://mtltimes.ca/saving-famine-irish-exhibition-comes-montreal/Black Rock - 1859 (0)

This moving exhibition tells the story of the religious orders in Montreal whose members gave selflessly to Irish immigrants during the summer of 1847 – their time of greatest need.

Many thousands of people fled from Ireland during the Great Hunger and immigrated to Canada, the only doors never closed to the Irish. Famine immigrants to Montreal were not only among the poorest of the poor, but many of them arrived already sick with typhus fever. Despite this, a number of people in the English and French Canadian communities provided the ailing and the dying with shelter and support. At the forefront of this compassionate movement were the Sisters of Charity, also known as the Grey Nuns.

“The story of the Grey Nuns, and of the other religious orders who helped the dying Irish immigrants, is one of kindness, compassion and true charity,” Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac and a professor of history,  said. “Nonetheless, almost 6,000 Irish immigrants perished in the fever sheds of Montreal. They had fled from famine in Ireland only to die of fever in Canada. This is a remarkable story that deserves to be better known.”

This exhibit is being hosted by the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation to help underscore the need to create a suitable memorial at the site of the “Black Rock” , which marks Montreal’s Irish Famine cemetery. This new green space would honour the 6000+ Irish immigrants who died and were buried in the area in 1847; as well as the many Montrealers who went to their aid, including John Easton Mills, the Mayor of Montreal at the time. He personally provided care and comfort to these unfortunate immigrants, caught typhus, and died as a hero. It would also honour the many brave French-speaking Quebec families that adopted more than 1000 Irish orphans, resulting in an estimated 40% of Quebecers having Irish ancestry today.

 

Montreal Irish Monument Foundation with Black Rock

Co-curator Dr. Jason King meets with Directors of Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation Fergus Keyes, Victor Boyle, and Donovan King to discuss future plans.

Saving the Famine Irish: the Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger

http://www.greynun.org/2015/06/saving-the-famine-irish-the-grey-nuns-and-the-great-hunger

Irish FaminePainting on the ceiling of Bon Secours Church in Old Montreal

 

Sister Marlene Butler received information from a friend in Connecticut about the exhibition telling the story of the Grey Nuns who gave selflessly to the Irish Famine immigrants in Montreal.  Within a few days, Sister Anne Marie Beirne called to tell her she had received information about a conference to be held at Quinnipiac University from June 3 to 6.  During the Conference there would be a presentation entitled “Sacred and Sacrilegious Women’s Testimonials:  the Grey Nuns and Maria Monk” by Jason King from the University of Galway.  They went for the talks on Friday, June 5 and to see the exhibition.  They were warmly welcomed and experienced a very inspiring day including a visit to the exhibition.

Jason King explored the controversy around Maria Monk that erupted in 1836 around accusations of institutional concealment of females and child victims of illegitimacy.  There was a sense of public fascination “with the concealed women and children incarcerated in these institutions to develop lurid fantasies about them.”

In his presentation, King argues that “the sacred images and religious iconography of French-Canadian and Irish female religious caring for Montreal’s famine immigrant in the “Saving the Famine Irish” exhibit were directly influenced and shaped by the sinister impressions of Maria Monk a decade earlier, which they sought to repudiate and replace”. He wanted to show that these sisters worked in a very anti-Catholic environment.

According to King, the annals of the Grey Nuns of Montreal  gave  the best and most detailed accounts in North America  describing  the plight of the Irish famine immigrants.  The Grey Nuns  worked with the women and orphans in the fever sheds in Old Montreal.  Many of them  lost their lives caring for the women and children.  The Grey Nuns were the first to be called to care for immigrants in the fever sheds.  Following them were the Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph.  The only image of them is in the painting of Theophile Hamel “Le typhus” ( 1848).

Click here to be linked to the Grey Nun annals

Montreal’s Irish Famine Cemetery: Maps and Images

From Donovan King: Commemoration Struggles from 1847 to the Present http://www.montrealirishmonument.com/sites/default/files/MontrealsIrishFamineCemetery.pdf

Black Stone 1.pngBlack Stone 2.pngMap 1.0. Excerpt from 1846 map of MontrealBlack Stone 3.pngMap 2.0. Excerpt from 1853 map of MontrealBlack Stone 4.pngMap 3.0 Excerpt from 1894 map of MontrealBlack Stone 5.pngMap 4.0. Proposed Irish Cultural and Memorial ParkFever Sheds PhotographPhotograph
Construction buildings from top of bridge, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1858-59
William Notman (1826-1891)
About 1858-1859, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card – Albumen process
25 x 30 cm
Gift of Mrs. Henry W. Hill
N-0000.392.2.2
© McCord Museum

Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger Exhibit

Grey Nuns Exhibit brochure 1

Grey  Nuns brochure 2.png

Grey Nuns at “Women and the Great Hunger in Ireland” Conference, Quinnpiac University, June 5, 2015

Grey Nuns at Quinnipiac

From Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University:

Among our more than 50 guests at our “Women and the Great Hunger in Ireland” conference are Sister Marlene Butler GNSH, left, of Yardley, Penn., and Sister Anne Marie Beirne GNSH, of Queens, N.Y. The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart visited our year-long “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” exhibit in the Arnold Bernhard Library. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” Sister Butler said. “We try to create a more compassionate world — and it’s really inspiring to see what the Grey Nuns accomplished in Montreal.” Sister Beirne said the exhibit demonstrates how much we can all help each other. “Just hearing the stories is so emotional.” She is continuing the work of her predecessors by volunteering her time at Marguerite’s Pantry in New York. “It’s living a life of compassion,” she said. “That’s what they called us to do.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1G0s2Ab

Grey Nuns exhibit setup 2

GreyNunGarb

During their visit Dr. Jason King delivered a keynote address entitled “Sacred and Sacrilegious Women’s Testimonials: The Grey Nuns and Maria Monk, Famine Irish Migrants, and the Montreal Fever Sheds in 1847-1848″.

He suggested that the sacred images and religious iconography of French-Canadian and Irish female religious caring for Montreal’s Famine emigrants in the “Saving the Famine Irish” exhibit were directly influenced and shaped by the sinister impressions of Maria Monk a decade earlier, which they sought to repudiate and replace.  In the decade before the Irish Famine influx into Montreal in 1847, the very same orders of priests and nuns who cared for Irish emigrants and rescued Famine orphans had become figures of infamy following the publication of The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, or, the Hidden Secrets of a Nun’s Life in a Convent Exposed (1836).  Her purported autobiographical account of her experiences within and escape from the Hôtel Dieu convent was a staple of American nativism and a best-seller, with over three hundred thousand copies purchased by 1860 – second only to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the antebellum United States.  In her Awful Disclosures, Maria Monk claimed to have been incarcerated in Montreal’s Hôtel Dieu convent in which she alleged that acts of sexual abuse and infanticide routinely occurred, although her allegations were comprehensively discredited in the years that followed.

Grey Nuns launch 3

Hotel Dieu convent

It is profoundly ironic that the very same priests and nuns who were vilified by Maria Monk in 1836 for plotting to murder helpless Irish infants became iconic figures and venerated in popular memory a decade later for their salvation of Famine orphans. In fact, this tension between sacred and sacrilegious, or iconic and idolatrous images of women and children was embodied in the figures of the uncloistered nun with the Irish infant, which provided a focal point for the popular memory of Maria Monk as well as the fever sheds. Ultimately, it was only by forgetting the sacrilegious figure of Maria Monk that the sacred memory of the clergy and female religious who cared for Irish emigrants in Montreal’s fever sheds could be preserved and transmitted.

Maria Monk with child

Nuns rescuing orphans in fever sheds of Montreal

Irish America: The Grey Nuns at Quinnipiac

From Irish America:

The Grey Nuns at Quinnipiac

GreyNunGarb

Sarah Churchill, Assistant to Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute examines a photo of a Grey Nuns. Images by Johnathon Henninger.

By Matthew Skwiat, Contributing Editor
June / July 2015

Anew exhibit on the Grey Nuns hosted by Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University opened April 1. A private event launching the exhibit took place on March 31 with the Canadian Consul General, Quebec Delegate to New England, and the Irish Consul General of New York all in attendance.

The long overdue exhibit shines a light on the untold number of English and French Canadians who provided charity and support for the thousands of immigrants who fled Ireland during the Famine. Foremost among them were the Sisters of Charity, who were more commonly referred to as the Grey Nuns. Theirs is a story of compassion and resolve during a time of great suffering and one which has been largely overlooked.

Quinnipiac launch 4

Barbara Jones, left, Consul General of Ireland, Marie-Claude Francoeur, Quebec Delegate to New England,Christine Kinealy, John F. Prato, Consul General of Canada, and Jason King toured the exhibit “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” on display at the Arnold Bernhard Library on the Mount Carmel campus of Quinnipiac University. The exhibit opened to the public April 1, 2015. (Photograph by Johnathon Henninger / for Quinnipiac University)

The exhibition, “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger,” was a joint collaboration between Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute and professor of history, and Jason King, Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Moore Institute at Galway University, and the Arnold Bernhard Library. Kinealy said of the exhibit, “The story of the Grey Nuns, and of the other religious orders who helped the dying Irish immigrants, is one of kindness, compassion and true charity” adding “this is a remarkable story that deserves to be better known.” ♦

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The exhibition runs through March 18, 2016.

Ireland’s minister for diaspora affairs visits Quinnipiac to view ‘Saving the Famine Irish’

Irish Minister for Diaspora Affairs visits “Saving the Famine Irish” Exhibit

Christine Kinealy and Jimmy Deenihan

From left: Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, and Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s minister for diaspora affairs.

May 8, 2015 – Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s minister for diaspora affairs, visited Quinnipiac on May 7, to view the University’s vast collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Irish Famine.

Deenihan viewed the exhibition, ‘Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger,’ in the Arnold Bernhard Library on the Mount Carmel Campus. He also toured Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University.

“Quinnipiac University is at the forefront of bringing awareness and knowledge of The Great Hunger to the wider community through the important work of the institute and the museum,” Deenihan said. “Scholars and students can avail themselves of the unique collection of resources, both written and visual. Quinnipiac is bringing the story of Ireland’s Great Famine to the diaspora in a fresh and meaningful way.”

The exhibition, hosted by Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, tells the story of the religious orders in Montreal whose members gave selflessly to Irish immigrants during the summer of 1847 – their time of greatest need.

“The minister for diaspora affairs was very engaged,” said Christine Kinealy, a professor of history and director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute. “He knew all about the Grey Nuns and thought the museum was beautiful.”

Deenihan was accompanied by Christine Reen, private secretary for the Department of the Taoiseach (prime minister) in Ireland, Emer Rocke, director of Irish Abroad and the Global Irish Network Unit for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, and Fiona McCabe, Ireland’s vice consul general in New York.

“It was a fine visit,” Kinealy said. “They were very appreciative of what we do in terms of the wide impact Quinnipiac has on Irish students and forging better relationships with scholars in Ireland and with people interested in learning more about the Great Hunger.”

“It was a pleasure having Minister Jimmy Deenihan visit Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum,” added Grace Brady, executive director of the museum. “As minister for diaspora affairs, it was quite fitting for him to see the museum in an area that is home to many generations of descendants of Irish immigrants. The minister thanked us for all the work we have been doing to educate people about the Great Hunger and for showing exceptional Irish visual art.”

– See more at: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/irelands-minister-for-diaspora-affairs-visits-quinnipiac/#sthash.a9zJyTQY.dpuf

“Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” Exhibit Launch at Quinnipiac University and the Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation

“Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” Exhibit launch at Quinnipiac University.  The exhibit runs until March 18, 2016.

New exhibition now open to public

Grey Nuns exhibit setup

Sarah Churchill sets up Grey Nuns Exhibit.

Quinnipiac exhibit setup

 

Sarah Churchill sets up Grey Nuns Exhibit.

Grey Nuns launch 8

Co-curators, Professor Christine Kinealy of Quinnipiac University and Dr. Jason King of Galway University at the reception on March 31, 2015.

Quinnpiac launch 2

President John Lahey alongside Consul General from Canada, John F. Prato.

Grey Nuns launch 2

Dr. Jason King gives a guided tour of the exhibition to Marie-Claude Francoeur, Quebec Delegate to New England.

Grey Nuns launch 3

A copy of “The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk”, a staple of anti-Catholic nativism published nearly a decade before the arrival of famine migrants in Canada, on view in the exhibition.

Grey Nuns launch 4

Consul General for Canada, John F. Prato, speaking at the reception.

Grey Nuns launch 5

Professor Christine Kinealy speaks about the Grey Nun’s habit on view in the exhibition.

Quinnipiac launch 4

From left to right, Barbara Jones, Consul General from Ireland, Marie-Claude Francoeur, Quebec Delegate to New England, Professor Christine Kinealy, John F. Prato, Consul General from Canada, and Dr. Jason King on a private tour of the exhibition in the Arnold Bernhard Library.

 

Quinnpiac launch 5

John F. Prato, Consul General from Canada, speaks with Dr. and Mrs. John Lahey.

Montreal Irish Monument Foundation with Black Rock

Co-curator Dr. Jason King meets with Directors of Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation Fergus Keyes, Victor Boyle, and Donovan King to discuss future plans.