Irish Canadian Famine Research

Irish Canadian Famine Research

Category: Professor Mark McGowan

Irish Famine Summer School in Irish National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park House, June 20-24, 2018

4195 IHT Famine School Flier St 1 copy

http://www.strokestownpark.ie/whats-on/ifss-2018

To book your place:

http://strokestownpark.rezgo.com/details/131262/the-irish-famine-summer-school-2018

Irish Journeys: Famine Legacies and Reconnecting Communities.

The 2018 Irish Famine Summer School and International Conference:

 Irish National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park House, the Irish Heritage Trust, and Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University

The 2018 Irish Famine Summer School will take place at Strokestown Park House from 20th-24th June. The theme is Irish Journeys: Famine Legacies and Reconnecting Communities.

Strokestown Park House and the Irish National Famine Museum provide a hub for visitors and scholars to experience a uniquely preserved historic house and explore the lives of rich and poor in their original setting.

The 2018 Irish Famine Summer School will consider the Great Irish Famine and its legacies of dispersing communities between Ireland, Great Britain, North America, and Australia. Particular emphasis will be placed on the theme of Irish journeys at home and abroad, including the experiences of Irish emigrants and their descendants in building communities and becoming integrated into their host societies. The topics of homecoming, revisiting Ireland, and reconnecting communities between Irish and diasporic locations will also be central themes.

The annual Famine conference is an international, interdisciplinary event that brings together local, national and international Famine experts. We ask for papers that approach the subject ‘Irish Journeys’ from the broadest possible artistic, cultural, historical, and socio-economic perspectives.  We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers and envisage dedicated panels on (but not limited to) the following themes:

  • Irish Journeys at home and abroad
  • The Irish Famine Migration to North America, Great Britain, and Australia
  • Migration, Integration, and community building in Ireland and the diaspora
  • Artistic, cultural, historic, and socioeconomic legacies of eviction and migration
  • Reconnecting Irish communities between Ireland and diasporic locations
  • Homecoming: revisiting Ireland

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Christine Kinealy (Quinnipiac University)

Professor Mark McGowan (University of Toronto)

Professor Mike Cronin (Boston College)

Professor Ian Kuijt (University of Notre Dame)

Professor Maureen Murphy (Hofstra University)

Enquiries and proposals of no more than 250 words, accompanied by a brief biographical note on the author, should be sent to Dr Jason King: faminestudies@Irishheritagetrust.ie and/or Professor Christine Kinealy (Christine.Kinealy@quinnipiac.edu) by 1 February 2018. Decisions on proposals as decided by the organising committee will be communicated by the end of February.

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New Deadline for Abstracts March 17: Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland Conference, Quinnipiac University June 14-17 2017

childen-and-the-great-hunger-in-ireland-conference-extended-deadline-2cfp-children-and-the-great-hunger-in-ireland-extended-deadline

 

CFP: Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland Conference

cfp-children-and-the-great-hunger-in-ireland-2017

Call for Papers: Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland

Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust at StrokestownPark, is hosting an international conference,

“Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland.” In any sustained period of food hunger and famine, children are one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of disease and mortality. The Great Hunger that occurred in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 is no exception. This conference will explore the impact of famine on children and young adults. While the focus will be on Ireland’s Great Hunger, a comparative approach is encouraged. It is anticipated that a selection of papers will be published.

  • Children and poor relief •Children and philanthropy •Abandonment and societal shame •Children’s literature and children in literature •Visual representations of children and young adults •Childhood diseases •Vagrancy and prostitution •Children and crime •Averted births and demography •Proselytizing the young •Children in print and material culture •Teaching the Great Hunger •The Earl Grey Scheme •The churches and children •Children in folklore •Sport and leisure •Famine and the family •Children of the Big House •Children and emigration •Memory and survivors’ accounts •Witness accounts •Memorializing the young

Papers are welcomed from all disciplines and from both established scholars and new researchers. Abstracts of 250-300 words for 20-minute papers or proposals for roundtable sessions on specific themes, together with 100-word biographical statements, should be directed to:

Professor Christine Kinealy: christine.kinealy@quinnipiac.edu And Dr Jason King: faminestudies@irishheritagetrust.ie

Deadline for receipt of abstracts 31 January 2017

Famine Irish Migrants in Ontario: The Story of Stephen De Vere and Toronto’s Irish Orphans

ireland-fund-talk-image

Ireland Park Foundation/Celtic Studies – Annual Lecture

Ireland Park Foundation/Celtic Studies – Annual Lecture

November 29 at 6:00 pm8:00 pm

Ireland Park Foundation and Celtic Studies at Univeristy of St. Michael’s College, in the University of Toronto, are delighted to host Dr. Jason King. Dr. King is Head of the Irish Famine Archive and Researcher for the National University of Ireland, Galway. He will deliver the annual Ireland Park Foundation Lecture, on the lives of Stephen De Vere and Robert Walsh. 

In 1847, Stephen De Vere risked his life sailing with former tenants from his Irish estate in the steerage of a coffin ship. In Toronto, he wrote such an influential description of the Irish Famine migration that it shocked British Parliamentarians into reforming the Passengers Acts to protect emigrants at sea. Yet the fact that he kept extensive, unpublished diaries of his voyage to Canada in 1847 and 1848 remains largely unknown. This lecture takes the audience on a tour of famine era Toronto and Ontario as seen through the eyes of Stephen De Vere and his unpublished journals.

It also tells the stories of Irish Famine orphans in Toronto, like Robert Walsh, who studied at the University of St. Michael’s College. As an Irish orphan in Canada, Robert Walsh dreamed of returning to his homeland and becoming reunited with his baby sister, who was left behind with relatives in 1847. “My sister, my dear sister, if she exists, when she would learn that she has a brother and sisters in Canada who are thinking of her she would write to them,” he hoped. “We will see then we are not alone in the world, and it is this thought that will give us courage to endure our separation here.” And yet, when Robert Walsh finally returned to Ireland in 1872 he was distraught to discover no trace of her, and died soon thereafter at the age of 33. The lecture recounts the search for his sister and reveals how she was finally found.

After this lecture, there will be a round table discussion between Dr. King, Dr. Mark McGowan and Robert G. Kearns. 

Dr. Jason King has recently become Historical Advisor to the Board of Ireland Park Foundation.

Free admission – no registration required

With the support of the Embassy of Ireland, Ottawa

http://faminearchive.nuigalway.ie/eyewitness-accounts/famine-orphans/robert-walsh

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

Irish Global Migration and Memory Cover

https://www.routledge.com/Irish-Global-Migration-and-Memory-Transatlantic-Perspectives-of-Irelands/Corporaal-King/p/book/9781138693388

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.

http://faminearchive.nuigalway.ie/

Irish Famine Archive Home Page

Famine walk from Roscommon reaches Dublin

From Irish Times (April 22, 2015)

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/famine-walk-from-roscommon-reaches-dublin-1.2185538

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

Walk to recall Famine victims offered flight or starvation

From Irish Times

Walk from Roscommon to Dublin honours the ‘missing 1,490’ Strokestown tenants

1490 walk

Frank Hanly and Caroilin Callery at Strokestown Park prepare for Walking in the Footsteps of the Missing 1,490 – A Famine Emigrant’s Walk. Photograph: Brian Farr

Marese McDonagh

Sat, Apr 18, 2015

When Caroilin Callery was a teenager, her father Jim bought the 300-acre Strokestown estate in Co Roscommon from Olive Hales Pakenham.

“It was as if the family had just walked out the door. All their belongings were around; even the family portraits were hanging on the walls. I used to love wandering through the house,” Callery says.

The house was full of history: Pakenham’s ancestor Major Denis Mahon was a landlord who was murdered during the Famine in 1847.

But Jim Callery was less interested in Strokestown House or its history than he was in the lands around it. Indeed, he had only been in the drawingroom of the house at the time he did the deal in 1979. But he needed a few acres to expand his business, and the entire estate was what was on offer. So he took it.

He was somewhat taken aback a few years later when he discovered more than 55,000 musty documents, many relating to the Famine, in the house. For better or worse the family had been entrusted with safeguarding part of the legacy of the Famine, and the National Famine Museum is just one manifestation of that responsibility.

On Saturday, when she and a group of neighbours walk 155km from Strokestown to the Dublin docks, Caroilin Callery will be retracing the steps of the “missing 1,490”, the starving tenants who set out on foot from the estate in May 1847. Major Mahon had offered them the choice of emigration through “assisted passage”, starvation on their blighted potato patch farms or a place in the terrifying local workhouse.

Coffin ships

After walking for days along the tow paths of the Royal Canal to Dublin, the weary men, women and children were put on boats to Liverpool, and from there to Quebec aboard four notorious “coffin ships”.

Caroilin Callery says the Royal Canal was “the N4 of that time” and was the most likely route for Mahon’s tenants.

It was one of the largest “assisted emigration” schemes of the Famine era, a mass movement of people with impossible choices.

While initially dubious about the scheme, the landlord notoriously booked passage for his tenants on cargo ships, rather than passenger ones, and according to some estimates, as many as 50 per cent did not survive the journey to Canada.

“Another very sad and ironic fact is that these people initially travelled to Liverpool on boats loaded with grain from Ireland. They were lying under tarpaulin on deck, on top of this wheat,” says Callery.

She is director of the inaugural Irish Famine Summer School which takes place in Strokestown House from June 17th to 21st . It will be launched by Minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys when she greets the walkers on the Jeanie Johnston on their arrival in Dublin on Wednesday.

Callery says she will be thinking of the tenants as she follows in their footsteps today.

“I will be thinking of the children walking barefoot, the hungry mothers carrying babies, the corpses they must have seen along the canal.

“ I will be thinking about Mary Tighe who is often in my mind, who left with her brother and her five children after her husband Bernard died.”

Survivors

Mary Tighe and three of her children died before their ship docked at Grosse Île. Her son Daniel (12) and daughter Catherine (9) survived, and two years ago Daniel’s great-grandson Richard Tye visited Strokestown in one of the more moving visits of the Gathering.

Callery and her neighbours will spend five days walking, overnighting in Abbeyshrule, Mullingar, Enfield and Maynooth. They are hoping that hundreds will join them along the route.

The scale of the exodus from Strokestown was discovered by Dr Ciarán Reilly from Maynooth University, author of Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine. He says estate bailiff John Robinson, who was paid two shillings to escort the tenants to Liverpool, was “given strict instructions that none were ever to return to Roscommon”.

In November 1847 Major Mahon became the first landlord to be murdered during the Famine.

“Word got back about the condition of the ships. There was a lot of anger,” says Callery

19th-century Toronto Irish immigrants a lesson in upward mobility

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Famine Irish in Toronto

Toronto Star,

By: Staff Reporter, Published on Sat Mar 14 2015

In the 19th century, Toronto was overwhelmingly British and Protestant, a bastion of WASP burghers for whom Queen and Empire were watchwords and ethnic uniformity was a given.

And then there were the Irish.

Catholics from the Emerald Isle were the city’s original immigrant underclass, and faced frank, bitter discrimination for decades. Sectarian tension once ran so high that Toronto came to be known as “the Belfast of Canada.”

Yet by the time of the First World War, the Irish had largely blended in to the city’s mainstream.

In a Toronto where marginalization of ethnic minorities remains a live issue, the integration of its Irish population in the 19th century may provide lessons, and some hope, for healing the city’s divides.

Interviews with historians, contemporary newspaper accounts, and the academic literature on the period paint a dire portrait of Victorian Toronto’s intolerance and inequality.

While the city had long been home to a smattering of Irish immigrants, the summer of 1847 saw a deluge: 38,000 between June and October, driven across the Atlantic by a potato blight that was starving the country.

The city was “absolutely overwhelmed,” said Mark McGowan, a professor of Irish Canadian history at the University of Toronto.

Just about 2,000 of those “faminities” wound up staying in the city — the rest spread across southern Ontario and farther afield — but in a city of about 30,000, the Irish influx was huge.  By 1851, a quarter of the city’s population was Irish Catholic.

The virulent anti-Catholicism of many Protestant Torontonians compounded the difficulties of accommodating so many newcomers.  Long a feature of British nationalism, hostility toward Roman Catholics was accentuated in the 1850s and 1860s by Irish republicanism and Fenian unrest in the British Isles and North America.
Some malnourished Irish died of typhus and other diseases on the way to Toronto. Those who survived often found themselves unwelcome and discriminated against, despised for their poverty but refused when they sought jobs.

Colin McConnell/Toronto Star

Some malnourished Irish died of typhus and other diseases on the way to Toronto. Those who survived often found themselves unwelcome and discriminated against, despised for their poverty but refused when they sought jobs.

In Toronto, the anti-Catholic mood was deepened by lingering resentment over the grafting together of Anglo-Protestant Upper Canada and French Catholic Lower Canada in 1840.

George Brown, a leading Grit politician and founder of the Globe newspaper, channeled this sentiment in frequent broadsides against the city’s Irish immigrants.

“Irish beggars are to be met everywhere, and they are ignorant and vicious as they are poor,” read one particularly notorious column from the time. “They are lazy, improvident and unthankful; they fill our poorhouses and our prisons.”

Brown’s vitriol contained a disquieting kernel of fact: many of the Irish who came to Toronto were desperately poor, especially as the famine dragged on.

A Globe report from the early 1860s portrayed the new immigrant sections of town as filthy warrens, full of “miserable hovels which in themselves are better fitted for pig-styes and cow-pens than residences for human beings.”

The city was soon dotted with Irish Catholic enclaves. Corktown, named after Ireland’s County Cork, was one such neighbourhood. Nearby Cabbagetown held a higher concentration of Irish Protestants, sparking occasional turf skirmishes.

Writing of his Toronto childhood, Cabbagetown native and Globe and Mail columnist John McAree remembered the animosity that bristled between the rival territories.

“Though the distance from our store to Corktown was less than half a mile, we had no contact with it,” he wrote in his 1953 memoir, Cabbagetown Store, “except on such special occasions as the 12th of July, or a rehearsal for when our Orange Lodge would march into enemy territory, looking for the trouble it generally provoked.”

The Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organization founded in Northern Ireland at the end of the 18th century, held inordinate political power in Victorian Toronto. Between 1845 and 1900, all but three of the city’s mayors were members of the Order.

July 12 marked the annual commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne, a crucial 1690 military victory for William of Orange over the Catholic James II, which ensured Protestant supremacy in Ireland.

It was one of Toronto’s sectarian holidays that periodically turned violent. By one count, Orangemen and Irish Catholics did battle 22 times between 1867 and 1892, often on July 12 or St. Patrick’s Day.

But occasional outbursts of communal violence may not have been as harmful as the steady day-to-day onslaught of discrimination the Irish faced. Access to government jobs in the police and fire services was often controlled by Orangemen, foreclosing the route to middle-class prosperity taken by so many Irish Catholics in Boston and New York.

Private companies were known to maintain informal anti-Irish hiring practices, too. Having a southern Irish accent would have been an impediment to landing a job on the Eaton’s shop floor, McGowan said.

The statues in Ireland Park hidden away at the foot of Bathurst and Queens Quay represent the struggles of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine around 1847.

Colin McConnell/Toronto Star

The statues in Ireland Park hidden away at the foot of Bathurst and Queens Quay represent the struggles of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine around 1847.

So how did the Irish emerge from a climate of poverty, hostility and violence that too often defined their lives in Toronto? A range of factors contributed, of course, some hard to replicate in modern-day Toronto, but others more readily at hand.

It surely helped that the Irish spoke English, allowing them to sidestep the language barrier that would slow the integration of later generations of newcomers.

Physical mobility was another Irish advantage. Corktown and neighbourhoods like it may have served as landing pads for the new immigrants, but they rarely stayed in one place for long.

“By the 1890s, they’re everywhere,” said McGowan, himself descended from famine refugees. “If you went to an American city, there would be these long-standing Irish enclaves. You don’t have that here.” This geographic dispersal helped bring Catholics and Protestants into closer contact, driving mutual understanding and even encouraging intermarriage. “Cupid was probably more important than denomination at a certain point,” McGowan said.

At the same time, immigrants from other parts of the world began trickling into Toronto, loosening the Irish monopoly on the fears and resentments of the WASP majority.

“From the 1880s, Toronto started getting immigrants who were even more scary from the majority perspective,” said Allan Levine, author of Toronto: Biography of a City.

“Number one, Catholic Irish immigration peters out, so there are fewer paddies with cloth caps and accents in the downtown area,” said William Jenkins, a professor of North American Irish history at York University, and himself the proud owner of a lilting Irish accent. “People basically just forget about the Irish.”

In the meantime, the community was working doggedly to improve its lot. Mutual aid societies, church parishes, sports teams, card parties, and temperance leagues created a thick support net for Catholics trying to climb the social ladder or simply to avoid destitution.

“They created their own infrastructure,” said Levine. “They looked after themselves.”

This network could be surprisingly thorough, covering expenses that even the modern welfare state neglects; the Bona Mors Society, for example, helped defray the costs of Irish Catholic funerals in Toronto.

The most important of the civil society institutions was Catholic schooling. Since the 1840s, the Upper Canada government had extended funding to separate Catholic schools, an arrangement enshrined in the British North America Act of 1867.

Meanwhile, Catholic kids could get excellent post-secondary instruction at St. Michael’s College, which only formally federated with the University of Toronto in 1910.

All that education led gradually to professional, middle-class jobs. “The generation of maids gives way to a generation of lower-level clerks, firemen, skilled tradesmen,” said Jenkins.

Eventually those clerks became barristers and bureaucrats. As McGowan pointed out, James J. Foy, a Catholic lawyer and alumnus of St. Michael’s College, became a leading Tory politician and right-hand man to premier James Whitney at the turn of the 20th century.

By the 1910s, McGowan notes, the Orange Order and the Catholic Holy Name Society were able to hold marches through Toronto without incident.

Of course, that was six decades after the first significant wave of Irish immigration to Toronto. One of the sharpest weapons against Irish marginalization was time itself.

“If you’re looking at the famine Irish, by the 1890s, you’re looking at a community that’s been here for 40 years,” McGowan said.

Through the accumulation of hard, impoverished decades, the Irish not only made themselves part of Toronto’s social fabric, they expanded the idea of what that society could be.

The Irish conception of their place in Toronto “wasn’t the imperial nationalism of WASP Canadian identity,” said Jenkins — it was more liberal, more ecumenical, less British.

“These Irish Catholics formulated their own idea of what it meant to be Canadian.”

19th c. Irish Toronto by the numbers

38,000

The number of Irish famine refugees who arrived in Toronto during the summer of 1847

863

Irish immigrants who died of typhus in the “fever sheds” at King and John Sts. that year

25 per cent

Proportion of Toronto’s population that was Irish Catholic by 1851

22

Times the Protestant Orange Order and the city’s Irish Catholics fought in the streets between 1867 and 1892, by one count

Irish Famine Summer School in Strokestown officially launched

Strokestown-House-300x200

http://www.shannonside.ie/news/irish-famine-summer-school-in-strokestown-officially-launched/

The Irish Famine Summer School in Strokestown has been officially launched during the recent Roses of Tralee visit to the town.

The summer school to be held in June 2015 follows the success of the International Famine Conference and the National Famine Commemoration held in May.

The summer school is a joint initiative between the Irish Famine Museum, Strokestown Community Development Association, Roscommon County Council and the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at NUI Maynooth.

It will also be supported by Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University and St Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

A former student of the University, the Toronto Rose Katie Blundell officially launched the school this week with Roscommon Cathaoirleach John Cummins.

The school will run next year from June 17th to June 21st and will include lectures, workshops, drama, music and excursions of the historic sites in Roscommon.