Irish Canadian Famine Research

Irish Canadian Famine Research

Category: Middle Island Historical Park

Ambassador Kevin Vickers recalls his Famine Irish ancestors and parallels with refugee crisis on RTE radio

 

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/marian-finucane/programmes/2016/0220/769570-marian-finucane-saturday-20-february-2016/?clipid=2108280#2108280

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=b9%5F20938695%5F70%5F20%2D02%2D2016%5F

From: 20:00

My Mum’s people were Kingstons from Bantry Bay. .. Paul Kingston left Bantry Bay in 1826. And my Dad’s people, people down in Wicklow, presented me with a beautiful book with my complete family history saying that my great, great grandfather was James Vickers would have left Arklow [in 1847]. Minister Charlie Flanagan would take exception to that because he is pretty sure that I come from County Laois, and there is in fact a James Vickers  who did leave Laois in 1827.  Whether I am going to call myself a Wicklow man or a Laois man I am not too sure.

Where I am from in Miramichi, New Brunswick, it is all Irish. The names are all Irish: Shanahan, Flanagan, O’Neill, Butler, Murphy, O’Shea… [In Ireland] it feels like I have come home. It really feels like home.

middle_island_memorial (1)

In my home town there is a Celtic Cross on Middle Island. In 1847 three ships arrived from Ireland, and there are 240 people buried on the island, Middle Island, and we grew up with that… During the Famine in 1847 was the worst year. The three ships involved , the Bolivar, the Richard White and the Loostaulk, their crews were overcome with typhus and cholera, and they had to make for the nearest port.  So they arrived at our home town.  But the river pilots refused to get on board the boats, because there were so many corpses on the decks.  When they finally were allowed to come up and dock at Middle Island, in the first week there were over a hundred people who further passed away.   It is two hundred and some odd people altogether who are buried there, in Middle Island, where we have this large Celtic Cross.

Middle Island Historical Park Miramichi

In Canada we are now on track to receive 25000 refugees by the end of February, and we may get up to fifty thousand by the end of the year. Between the forties, fifties, and early sixties in Canada we had three hundred and fifty thousand Irish people arrive on our shores.  There is an island in the St. Lawrence, Grosse Isle, with over five thousand Irish people buried on it who were overcome with cholera and typhus.  So it is a big part of our history.  Some people do not realize that seventeen percent of our population in Canada, like me, claim direct descendancy from Ireland. That would be roughly seven million people, a third again of the population from Ireland.  That is part of who we are.

Ambassador Kevin Vickers has also discussed the Famine Irish in Canada and his Irish ancestry during recent visits to Wicklow:

Kevin Vickers in Wicklow

 

Kevin Vickeres at Coollattin House

Pictured at the Canadian Connection event at Coollattin House are Alison Kehoe, Victor Young, Kevin Vickers (Canadian Ambassador to Ireland) and Dermot Kenny. Pic: Christy Farrell.http://visitwicklow.ie/wicklow-tourism-meets-canadian-ambassador-kevin-vickers/

The Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency, Kevin Vickers, was “very honoured and exceptionally humbled to have the profound pleasure to be back in my ancestral homeland,” when he enthusiastically addressed guests in the Library of Coollattin House, near Shillelagh, for the launch of the Coollattin Canadian Connection.

The event was organised by Old Coollattin Country Ltd and is aimed at promoting a number cultural, social and tourism links between Wicklow and Wexford with Canada, stemming from the large number of local emigrants who took the ships from New Ross across the Atlantic between 1847 and 1853.

When people say ‘Welcome home, Kevin’ it always brings tears to my eyes,” said Mr Vickers, who added that his great-great grandfather, James Vickers, left here (Wicklow) in 1847. “It is a profound experience to come back home.”

Boost for tourism as Coollattin restores historic links with Canada

Advertisements

New Irish-Canadian Famine Research presented at iNua Partnership Ireland Park Foundation Event.

Pictured at the Ireland Park Foundation Toronto / iNua Hospitality fundraising evening in The Muckross Park Hotel were from left, Jason King, Robert Kearns, Ireland park, Noel Creedon, Inua and Kevin Vickers, Canadian Ambassador. The Ireland Park Foundation in Toronto, is a charitable non-profit organisation set up to commemorate and celebrate the story of the Irish in Canada. Picture by Don MacMonagle

Pictured at the Ireland Park Foundation Toronto / iNua Hospitality fundraising evening in The Muckross Park Hotel were from left, Jason King, Robert Kearns, Ireland park, Noel Creedon, Inua and Kevin Vickers, Canadian Ambassador.
The Ireland Park Foundation in Toronto, is a charitable non-profit organisation set up to commemorate and celebrate the story of the Irish in Canada.
Picture by Don MacMonagle

http://www.corkchamber.ie/news/2015/09/29/MINISTER-COVENEY-CELEBRATES-IRISHCANADIAN-PARTNERSHIP

29th September 2015MINISTER COVENEY CELEBRATES IRISH-CANADIAN PARTNERSHIP

Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine & Defence Mr. Simon Coveney TD was the Keynote Speaker at a Gala
Dinner for Ireland Park Foundation hosted by iNua Partnership in Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney

On Thursday, 24th September 2015 iNua Partnership hosted a gala dinner for Ireland Park Foundation, a charitable non-profit organisation set up to commemorate and celebrate the story of the Irish in Canada. As a specialist investment company with deep ties to Canada, iNua Partnership is the Foundation’s first corporate partner in Ireland.

The Dinner’s objective was to raise awareness of the extraordinary work of the Toronto-based charity, as well as assist the Foundation’s important fundraising efforts in Ireland. Gráinne Seoige was the event’s Master of Ceremonies. Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine & Defence Mr. Simon Coveney TD: “I am delighted to be involved in this great celebration of the links between Ireland and Canada. My family has close personal ties with Canada, I’ve travelled there a number of times and witnessed firsthand the strength of the cultural and economic links between our two countries. This event is a fantastic means of highlighting the strong trade and socio-economic ties between Ireland and Canada and I wish the Ireland Park Foundation and iNua every success in their ambition to foster those links even further through their joint partnership.”

The partnership was officially announced by his Excellency Kevin Michael Vickers, the Ambassador of Canada to Ireland, at his residence in Dublin on April 2015. The Ambassador attended the Dinner as special guest and was joined by over 200 guests from the spheres of business, the arts and politics at the Muckross Park Hotel, a luxury 5 star hotel in the heart of Killarney National Park bought at the beginning of 2015 by iNua’s investment vehicle, iNua Hospitality. The event celebrated social, cultural and economic interests and generate much-needed funds for Ireland Park Foundation. Ireland Park Foundation was established in Toronto in 1997 by Irish entrepreneur and businessman Robert G. Kearns who emigrated to Canada in 1979. Mr Kearns said “Ireland Park Foundation is delighted to reach out to our Irish community to celebrate the deep historical, economic and cultural ties between Ireland & Canada. This has only been made possible by the generous support, vision and enthusiasm of Noel Creedon and his team at iNua Partnership.

Noel Creedon, MD of iNua Partnership said “The ambition is for this to be an annual dinner as part of our collaboration with Ireland Park Foundation, a partnership which aims to raise awareness and understanding of the Foundation here in Ireland and to strengthen the connection of Irish people living in Canada to business, cultural and political circles back home.” NUI Galway’s Dr Jason King, who has been commissioned to conduct new research to help uncover the personal stories of some of the thousands of Irish men, women and children who left from Cork and Limerick for Canada during the Famine years, presented his finding to the guests at the Dinner.

All proceeds raised from the event were donated to the Foundation.

WHAT: The iNua Ireland Park Foundation Inaugural Gala Dinner
WHO:

  • Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine & Defence Mr. Simon Coveney TD
  • Excellency Kevin Michael Vickers, the Ambassador of Canada to Ireland
  • NUI Galway’s Dr Jason King
  • Noel Creedon, MD of iNua Partnership
  • Robert G Kearns, Chairman of Ireland Park Foundation

WHEN: Thursday, September 24, 2015 – 7:30PM Reception

WHERE: Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, County Kerry

For more information, see www.irelandparkfoundation.com and www.inuapartnership.ie

Pictured: Minister Simon Coveney TD, Ambassador Kevin Vickers & Noel Creedon, MD of iNua Partnership

Excerpt from Dr. Jason King’s Address:

Here, in Killarney, we have one of the most poignant memorials to these unknown children of the Famine.  If you have some time tomorrow, I would urge you to visit St. Mary’s Cathedral – regarded as Pugin’s finest – which served as a hospital, a place of worship, and a burial ground for workhouse children long before it was completed in 1855.  The burial ground is marked by a soaring redwood tree which provides a fitting place to reflect upon the fate of the unknown children of the Famine.

Killarney Children Famine Redwood Memorial

Redwood Memorial for Children’s Famine Grave, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney.

The difficulties in tracing Irish Famine orphans make it appear all the more remarkable when we discover survivors who not only started new lives but new family lines in Canada with many living descendants.  Although the fate of Thomas Tracey remains unknown, his seven year old sister Bridget Ann settled in Whitby, Ontario, and she had children, grand- children, and great grand- children, including Terry Smith who is a board member of Ireland Park Foundation.  Bridget Ann Tracey brought with her to Canada a gold painted cream jug as a keepsake of her Irish homeland as well as stories of her transatlantic crossing passed down through generations which both remain largely undiscovered famine legacies.

http://www.thestar.com/news/2007/03/11/remnants_of_torontos_history.html

As he lay dying on Grosse Ile, Quebec, in the summer of 1847, James Quinn from Strokestown, in county Roscommon, implored his two young sons Patrick (12) and Thomas (6) to “Remember your soul and your liberty”.  Both orphans were adopted by a French-Canadian family and honoured their father’s memory by becoming priests who served mixed French and Irish Catholic congregations. In 1912, Thomas Quinn stood before the First Congress of the French Language in Canada in Quebec City to thank the Canadian people for their “untiring charity”.  This too is an unknown legacy of the Famine and our shared Canadian and Irish heritage.

image-thomas-quinn

Irish Famine Orphan Thomas Quinn

In the town of Richmond Quebec, the descendants of Irish Famine orphan Charles Coote, from Cootehill in County Cavan, treasure a handwritten account of their ancestor’s perilous transatlantic voyage on the Odessa, during which his father Samuel, mother Margaret, and sister Ellen all perished between mid-August and the first week of September in 1847, “their new world adventure ending at their first sight of Canada”.  And finally, let us not forget the story of William Vickers and the Vickers brothers who emigrated from Ireland in 1848 to the Miramichi in New Brunswick, whose descendants include our distinguished Canadian Ambassador, Kevin Vickers,who is here with us tonight.  The story of his ancestry is also too little known as a Famine legacy.

Ireland Park Foundation and iNua Partnership are to be commended for bringing these stories together.  These narrative traces of Irish Famine orphans help remind us that similar stories are being created today.   In marking their legacy, however, much work remains to be done.  In the past six months, Ambassador Vickers has launched the Ireland Park Foundation iNua Partnership, the Irish Famine Summer School at the National Famine Museum in Strokestown, the Digital Irish Famine Archive at NUI Galway, and he opened Canada’s Irish Festival on the Miramichi at the former quarantine station of Middle Island, New Brunswick.  He has helped to define a national vision and field of remembrance of the Canadian Famine Irish.  And yet, for scholars and travellers who wish to follow in their footsteps, the resources and way markers that exist remain all too fragmented.  There are no less than four digital archives that contain the records of the Canadian Famine Irish between New Brunswick and Toronto with no single, integrated, interoperable collection for scholars and the public to consult.  For travellers who wish to follow in the footsteps of the Famine Irish from Middle Island on the Miramichi, to Grosse Ile and the Black Stone in Montreal, to Kingston and the ultimate destination of Ireland Park in Toronto, all easily connected by VIA Rail, there is no single guiding authority to help way mark this national Famine Irish trail.  And here, in Killarney, we dine tonight in one of the main destinations of the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way, which is replete with Famine sites from Donegal to west Cork.  Between the three iNua Partnership hotels in Limerick, Killarney, and Cork, this trail wends its way past Stephen De Vere’s home in Curragh Chase National Forest Park, the ruined famine villages of Dingle and Ballinskelligs on the ring of Kerry, past the poignant redwood memorial here at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and on through west Cork to the blighted and iconic town of Skibbereen, first made famous by future Canadian Governor General Lord Dufferin in his harrowing 1847 book entitled From Oxford to Skibbereen.  Yet there is little to help familiarize travellers on the Wild Atlantic Way with these numerous Famine sites in their midst.   The time has come to consolidate these projects, digital archives, and heritage sites into a single field of vision and research on the Famine migrants that will honour their legacy and trace their crossings between Ireland and Canada and all of their myriad movements between our two countries.

Ireland pays tribute to Maritimes’ help during Great Famine

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-famine-commemoration-1.3285452

Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht touring New Brunswick for Famine Commemoration

Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is visiting New Brunswick this week as part of this year’s International Famine Commemoration.

Heather Humphreys is making stops in Saint John, Miramichi and Moncton to pay tribute to the people of Canada who helped Irish immigrants flee the great potato famine of the 1840s.

Approximately one million people died between 1845-1852, and a million more left Ireland forever.

“It’s very important that we remember and look back, because there’s so much famine across the world and I think by having these commemorations, it raises the awareness of famine issues in the modern world,” Humphreys said Friday on Information Morning Saint John.

“One of the legacies left behind by the famine in Ireland is the deep compassion which is felt by Irish people to those who suffer from hunger today.”

Of the more than 100,000 Irish who sailed to Canada in 1847, an estimated one out of five died from disease and malnutrition.

In Saint John, up to 2,500 people were quarantined on Partridge Island with small pox and typhus fever during the peak of the Irish immigration.

The island was an entry point for newcomers to Canada.

nb-partridge-island

Up to 2,500 people were quarantined on Partridge Island with small pox and typhus fever during the peak of the Irish immigration. (CBC)

Approximately 600 of them are buried in a mass grave on the island. Other Irish immigrants eventually settled in New Brunswick, Upper Canada and the United States.

“I’m here to say thank you to the Canadian people for the compassion their predecessors showed … because the devastating legacy of the famine is evident across the eastern region of Canada, where up to 20,000 Irish famine victims lie buried,” Humphreys said.

“But thankfully, many more thousands survived the journey and went on to build lives here … Almost a quarter of the population in this region are of Irish ancestry. So it’s important we link in with the Irish Canadians, and we meet them and those are strong links we want to maintain.”

Humphreys will lay a wreath at noon at St. Patrick’s Square in uptown Saint John on Friday.

She will then travel to Miramichi on Saturday, where she will visit Middle Island at 10 a.m., and meet with Bill Fraser, Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

Middle Island Historical Park Miramichi

middle_island_memorial (1)

Middle Island, Miramichi, Famine Memorial

Humphreys will also visit the Irish Families Monument at 2 p.m. in Moncton and then move on to Prince Edward Island on Sunday.

She previously made a stop in Halifax.

“It’s a solemn occasion to remember, and when you think of the journeys they went on, it’s quite harrowing … it’s important that we remember what they went through,” Humphreys said.

“It’s in remembering these things that it reminds us of the compassion felt by the Irish people, but it also creates an awareness as to the obvious difficulties that result in famine and the terrible things that happen.”

The first National Famine Commemoration Committee was established in July 2008, following a government decision to commemorate the Great Famine with an annual memorial day.

Since 2009, the program included an annual International Famine Commemoration at a location abroad.

Kevin Vickers Miramichi Irishfest

On July 18th, Canada’s Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers, also spoke about the Famine Irish in New Brunswick when he opened the 32nd Miramichi Canada’s Irish Festival in his home town.

The full text of Minister Heather Humphey’s address can be found here:

http://www.merrionstreet.ie/en/News-Room/Releases/Minister_Humphreys_attends_International_Famine_Commemoration_in_New_Brunswick_Canada.html