29th September 2015
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
WHEN: Thursday, September 24, 2015 – 7:30PM Reception
WHERE: Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, County Kerry
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Saturday 26 September the National Famine Commemoration took place in Newry, County Down. As part of the Famine Commemoration, an international conference on the the theme of “John Mitchel: The Legacy of the Great Irish Famine” was organized by Anthony Russell, Tommy Fegan, and Paddy Fitzgerald. This is the first time the event will be held in Northern Ireland and follows on from a successful hosting in Strokestown, county Roscommon in May 2014.
Full details of the conference programme below:
Wednesday 23 Sept 7.00pm Official Opening of the Conference 7.00pm A Hedge School Event Ulster and the Legacy of the Great Famine Chair: Tommy Graham (History Ireland) Panellists: Professor Mary Daly, Professor Christine Kinealy, Professor Peter Gray and Dr Ruan O’Donnell
Thursday 24 Sept
10.00am Anthony Russell, Mitchel’s Town and The Famine in Two Ulsters
10:45am Professor William Smyth – Reflecting on the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine
11:15am Dr James Quinn – John Mitchel, the Irish Peasant and the American Slave
2.00pm Pechakuchas – 7 Presenters, 7 Slides, 7 Topics in 7 Minutes 1. Slavery, A Biblical Perspective – Nigel Agnew 2. Seven Famines – Dr Paddy Fitzgerald 3. Belfast Famine– Eamon Phoenix 4. Newry Workhouse – Hugh McShane 5. Famine Commemoration– Michael Blanch 6. A Famine Family – Lynn McAreavey 7. Strokestown – John O’Driscoll
Friday 25 September
10.00am Christine Kinealy, The wee-men of Belfast. Female Philanthropy and the Great Famine
10.45 am Dr Laurence Geary, The Great Famine and Medicine 11:15am
Cathal Porteir, What folklore can tell us about the Great Famine that the documents cannot
11.45 am Dr Jason King, Irish Famine migration to Montreal, Toronto and New Brunswick
2:00pm Dr Ciarán Reilly – ‘Famine has made sad savages among its poor’: the world of the Ulster cottier in the 1840s.
2.30pm Dr John Nelson – Like Father, Unlike Son: The Rev. John Mitchel
3.00pm Cormac O’Grada – Eating People is wrong:Thoughts on Famine
3:30pm Reflections on the Conference – Professor Christine Kinealy
Saturday 26 September
10am ‘The Famine Plot – A discussion on the Great Famine and Culpability’ Chair: Robert Kearns – Ireland Park Toronto; Panellists: Tim Pat Coogan, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Professor Liam Kennedy, Brian Patterson.
Irish Times, Saturday, September 26, 2015.
Stormont culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys in Newry, Co Down at the National Famine Commemoration ceremony. Photograph: Paul Faith.
The tragedy of a coffin ship which hit an iceberg and sank was recalled at the first National Famine Commemoration event to be held in Northern Ireland.
Hannah left Warrenpoint in April 1849 with approximately 170 passengers and crew on board.
She sank in the Gulf of St Lawrence on April 29th, 1849 with at least 49 deaths though the ship’s list was lost and nobody knows exactly how many people were on board.
The annual commemoration was held at Albert Basin, Newry. Nearby Warrenpoint was a major port of emigration during the famine years. Hannah sailed from there on April 4th.
Most of those on board Hannah were from south Armagh. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys referenced the Murphy family from Mullaghbane who lost two of their children in the sinking and whose descendants still live in North Crosby, Ontario.
Stormont minister for culture Carál Ní Chuilín gave an account of the sinking of Hannah. One mother lost her six children, she said.
The ship struck an iceberg in the middle of the night and many of the children were trapped below deck. The ship sank in just 40 minutes and survivors clung to ice floes, but many died from exposure.
One eyewitness reported of the survivors: “No pen can describe the pitiful situation of the poor creatures. They were all but naked, cut and bruised and frostbitten. There were children who lost parents and parents who lost children. Many, in fact, were perfectly insensible.”
Dr Eamon Phoenix, a member of the famine memorial committee, stated the catastrophe directed impacted at least 3.5 million in Ireland. The population of the historic province of Ulster dropped by 16 per cent between 1845 and 1851. The worst affected county was Cavan where 43 per cent of the population was lost through either death or emigration.
Dr Phoenix pointed out that the famine affected both Catholic and Protestant communities in the North.
The famine had a “seering impact on the traditionally prosperous parts of east Ulster,” he said, adding that it was particularly notable around Lurgan and Portadown in Armagh.
In Newtownards the potato crop failure coincided with a downturn in the linen industry which devastated the area leaving “emaciated, half-famished souls”, according to a local newspaper account.
The workhouse in Newry saw a rise in numbers from 465 in 1845 to 1,100 in 1847.
The service was hosted by Newry and Mourne District Council. The National Famine Commemoration was first established in 2008 and is held in a different part of the country every year.
Representatives of the diplomatic corps from more than 30 countries attended the event and laid wreathes.
Mrs Humphreys will also unveil a commemorative plaque in Warrenpoint, Co. Down on Sunday in honour of those who emigrated and all of the people who suffered on the island of Ireland as a result of the famine.
From right to left: Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers; Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Professor Christine Kinealy; Curator of Digital Irish Famine Archive (NUIG), Dr. Jason King.
Statement for launch of Digital Irish Famine Archive from Ambassador Kevin Vickers:
It gives me great pleasure to launch the Digital Irish Famine Archive and “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” exhibit. Both the digital archive and the exhibit commemorate and pay tribute to the Grey Nuns of Montreal and people of French and English Canada, like Bishop Michael Power in Toronto and Dr. John Vondy in Chatham, now Miramichi, New Brunswick, who gave their lives caring for Irish emigrants during the Famine exodus of 1847. It is especially fitting that we launch the digital archive on this day, after Montreal’s Irish community has just made its annual pilgrimage to the Black Stone monument, which marks the site of the city’s fever sheds and mass graves for six thousand Irish dead, and before the Irish Famine Summer School begins at the Irish National Famine Museum in Strokestown, County Roscommon. The stories contained within the digital archive attest to the selfless devotion of the Grey Nuns in tending to typhus-stricken emigrants and providing homes for Irish orphans. In an age of increasingly desperate acts of migration, their compassion provides a lesson for us all.
The Digital Irish Famine Archive can be found at (http://faminearchive.nuigalway.ie/).