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Grosse Ile, Famine Island

Irish Memorial

Hallowed Ground of Irish Famine Victims

Grosse Ile, on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, near Quebec City, was the site where Irish victims of the ;( Famine of the mid 1800s were quarantined. Many of whom never got to see the Canadian mainland. Mass graves and a monument honoring those who perished are in evidence on the little island.

EMIGRANTS ... Research Centre ... Famine Links ... DVDs on Ireland

Though the generosity of French Canadians, orphaned Irish children were adopted and in many instances allowed to retain their own surnames.
Books ... Wild Geese ... Red Hand ... French Mention

Famine Links ... Irish Famine ... Famine Symphony

Pilgrimage to GROSSE ILE

The Irish Memorial - Quebec, Canada
August 15-17, 1997
Sponsored by Action Grosse Ile, Canada (416-221-9789)
AOH & LAOH in the U.S. (860-739-8216)

Children of the Gael died in their thousands on this
island having fled from the laws of foreign tyrants
and artificial famine in the years 1847-48.

God's blessing on them. Let this monument be a token to their name and honor from the Gaels of America.
God Save Ireland.

Translation of the Irish inscription on the Celtic Cross erected by the AOH in 1909.

A translated English version is more politically correct and is markedly softened.

Amazing. Diaspora

Canada Seizes Bloody Sunday Book

Ray O'Hanlon in the "Irish Echo" newspaper for August 20-26, 1997, writes.

Canadian customs officers seized copies of the recently published "Eyewitness Bloody Sunday" from author and human rights activist Don Mullen over the weekend.
Mullen was stopped by customs officers at Montreal Airport early Sunday morning. He arrived on a flight from California and was travelling to Grosse Ile near the city of Quebec to attend cermonies commerating the Great Famine.
Mullen said that when he asked officers why he had been stopped and detained, he was told that the officers were acting on instructions to be "on the alert for terrorists."

As well as copies of the book, a U.S. edition of which is due for publication in October, officers also confiscated 160 copies of the Breglio Report - a report into the January 30, 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings in County Derry, Northern Ireland, that resulted in the deaths of 14 unarmed citizens.
The report, compiled by former New York City Police Department ballistics expert Robert Breglio, alleges that British army snipers, using rifles and telescopic sights, shot at civil rights protesters from the walls of Derry.....................
After questioning, Mullen was released and allowed to continue his journey to Grosse Ile but was not given back the books, reports and other items.

Anglo-Saxon connections reach far and wide to manage the Irish - not an overly daunting task since most of them are already with O'Leary in the grave.

Canadian Heritage ... Newspapers

Grosse Ile, Gateway to Canada

In 1984, a book by Marianna O'Gallagher, S.C.H. was published by Carrig Books entitled Grosse Ile, Gateway to Canada, 1832-1937. It makes a substantial contribution towards reminding Canadians of the wealth of meaning contained in the history and the geography of the island. It took about five years of research to bring to light the tragic, yet fascinating story of a little island that looks, from a distance, like a hump on the surface of the St. Lawrence River. Grosse Ile has passed through a period of almost complete oblivion dating back to the early years of the twentieth century. Fortunately some people in Quebec, people of both Irish and French Canadian descent, did not let the story of the island die in their memory. This as described in the book's forward by James Mangan FSC.

Acadian ... Colonial Times

Informational Linkages

Hills of Tara Erin State
Quebec Travels Quebec Pictorials
How Irish? NY Times - a List
Thingies Famine Events
Irish News Irish Net
Celtic Culture Toronto Parade
Lark Spirit Canadian

The Irish Diaspora

The Irish diaspora needs to be understood as a lesson on the overcoming of a people against a tyrannical neighbor whose deeds parallels the dastardly deeds of their Teutonic brothers of the twentieth century.

The Irish in Newfoundland 1623-1800 by Michael J. McCarthy.

In 1623, Lord Falkland, who planned on founding a colony
on the Southern Shore of the Avalon around Renews, had a book
published for him in Dublin, inviting Irishmen to participate
in a venture.
A statement by one of another time.
 Newfoundland is a fine plantation, It shall be my station
till I die, Mo Cradh! go m'fhearr liom a bheith a n-Eire,
(Alas! I'd rather be in Ireland)
                   Donnacadh Ruadh MacConMara (1715-1810)
Irish Halifax: The Immigrant Generation, 1815-1859 by Terence M Punch 1981, is worth reading.
The mass exodus of Irish, which ran from 1815 until the 1850's, had
a deep impact on all the North American areas which received the flow
of emigrants. One such host community was Halifax, 
 Nova Scotia.

The Irish in Cape Breton by A.A. MacKenzie in 1979.

In the fuzzy mind of popular history, the Irish of the new world
have been linked to their larger and more "typical" settings,
like Boston, New York, and Chicago, and when the drift shifts
to Canada, the larger urban concentrations again spring to mind:
Halifax, Saint John, Montreal.........
By far the greater part of Canada's Irish settlers and the offspring
have lived on the fringes of larger alien communities.

Snippets from History of Early Nova Scotia

Proof of Irish out and about; Irish-born Nova Scotian Governor Parr expressed his anger towards the New York Loyalists who crowded into Halifax. There they fled to escape the rabble fermenting revolution in His Majesty's colonies. Parr referred to them as a "cursed set of dogs" because the amount of work they generated for him with their demands. They were an arrogant and grabbing lot and abused even their own loyalist fellows.

Irishman Richard John Uniacke was to cut his teeth in American patriot, Jonathan Eddy's rebellion, although he was later to rise to the position of respected servant of his majesty's government.

Aug '98 -Trip to Nova Scotia yielded

Secured a publication in a bookstore on immigration to and from Nova Scotia 1815-1838. It was published in 1942 by Nova Scotia Public Archives.

Archivist Harvey writes in the Preface:

As a result of this prolonged research more than, one persistant conjecture has been proven wrong. For example, the statement has been made repeatedly that Scottish immigration to Nova Scotia reached its peak in 1817 and ceased abruptly in 1828. ---------------- and from casual references in the Archives that almost as many Scots came to Nova Scotia in the decade subsequent to 1838 as in the previous decade, although more than half of them came between 1839 and 1843. --------------
Similar revisions have been made in the traditional view of Irish immigration, which is shown to have been much greater in this period than was generally suspected.

In Appendix III of preparer J.S. Martell's document
On numbers and years shown of Passengers from Newfoundland - 1815-1838
It is not supposed that these are complete returns of "passengers" from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. ------ Nearly a thousand, perhaps, there were more, came in 1816 and 1817 and it is known that they were Irish. Those at Arichat in 1830 were also Irish. Most of the others were probably Irish.

My comments
In material I've read, it appears the Scots seemed to be loyal to the Crown even after the defeat they suffered at Culoden. Maybe that is why American historians play up a Scot-Irish scenario for a Scot's contribution in America's cause although Scot John Paul Jones (added Jones to his Paul surname after murdering a fellow Scot) comes to mind. Nova Scotian, historian A.C. Jost of Guysborough County compared Jonses' thuggary to that of the German submarines that sank Cansco fishing schooners during WWI. Jones' privateering escapades was little more than legalized piracy.

Back then, the Royal Navy's practice of sending ashore cudgel-swinging bands of sailors, the notorious press gangs, to "impress" males into seagoing service was legalized kidnapping. When an admiral ran short of a crew, the governor persuaded his counsel to issue a press warrant, ostensibly to rid Halifax of vagabonds. Nova Scotians vanished into the lower decks of His Majesty's ships to die in distant lands, or from scury etc.

Scot-Irish folks had been in Ireland by 100 years as of this point in time. When does an American born individual become an American or an English born Irish person become English and British?

Spoke to a gentleman, while I was in Halifax who brought to my attention that Haligonians with names appearing to be of an Irish origin wonder about it. He posited that some of them may have been "soupers," those who availed of soup during the Famine and in doing so became Protestants. Naturally there are many shades of reasons for recreating the past.

Rockland County
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This document last modified Sep 15, 2001.