The Irish Canadians. When the Irish were forced to embark from their homeland, many think of America, England, or Australia as the ports where they landed. In this letter, we will visit the land of Canada, which was the migratory destination of 5 million people of Irish descent.
Céad Míle Fáilte – and you are very welcome to your Letter from Ireland. How are things going with you this week? I’m afraid we’re back to “horizontal rain” here in County Cork today – a good day for watching sports in a nice cosy pub.
I’m having a nice cup of Barry’s tea as I write – and I do hope you’ll have a cup of whatever you fancy yourself as you join me for today’s letter. Now, the rest of this letter will be a confession – followed by four acts of contrition.
Let me explain. Last week, I started by wishing all our US readers a very happy Independence Day weekend (and I do hope it went well for you). But, then I was reminded just how many Canadian readers we have!
Of course, July 1st was Canada Day – which I did not mention – and I do wish all of our wonderful Canadian readers belated well wishes. But we won’t leave it at that – let’s spend the rest of this letter sharing some wonderful Canadian Irish ancestry stories.
The Irish have been arriving into the provinces of Canada for many centuries. Between 1830 and 1850 alone, 620,000 Irish immigrated – driving the total population of the provinces up to almost two million people. While many of these immigrants continued onto the United States, a majority settled down across the provinces. Today, about five million citizens of Canada claim Irish ancestry – amounting to about 15% of the total population. They are the big numbers. But now, let’s make it a little more personal.
Let’s have a look at the stories of just four of these Canadian-Irish men and women – each with a very unique, and marvellous, story to tell.
To start, Pierre Aubry from Quebec was on to me a number of months back – he wanted to share a story with me about his Kilkenny ancestor. This was one of those true stories that people would not believe if they saw in a movie!
Is that not an amazing story? So many Aubrys in Quebec today link back to this one Kilkenny man.
Next, we go on to Ontario. Melinda Stahl was on to us, telling the story of her ancestor – Denis O’Donovan. Did any of your Irish family talk about wishing to go back to Ireland? Maybe they wanted to retire there and be buried among their kin? Well, that’s was the wish Denis Donovan kept through his life – and he achieved it in a manner of speaking.
Our third story is based in British Columbia – and comes from Heather and Tom Reynolds. It’s the story of a woman who had to fight to get ahead in a male-dominated hierarchy. The story connects the attitude Heather Reynolds must have displayed with that of one ancient queen of Connaught.
Our final story is from Jack Coffey of Nova Scotia. He imagines a letter coming from one of his ancestors, Patrick Coffey – and then writes a reply. These two letters that make a heartfelt connection across the years.
I do hope you enjoyed those wonderful stories of just four Irish Canadians. There must be so many other stories out there just like these ones. How about you – do you have any Irish-Canadian stories that you would like to share?
So, I hope that all of our Canadian readers can now forgive me for my error of omission last week – it won’t happen again! And I also know that each of these four stories will resonate for all people of Irish descent in many different countries.
As always, do feel free to leave a comment below now if you would like share a story or the Irish surnames in your family.
Slán for now,
Mike and Carina : )
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