High Street Clonakilty

Evans Travel Story

FROM A TRIP TO IRELAND 2001

"A JOURNEY THROUGH COUNTY CORK"

by Linda Evans
 
In the spring of 2001, my sister Jane and I brought our mother to Ireland for her 80th birthday.  It was her fifth visit.  Jane and I were only on our second visit.  This is an excerpt from that visit.
 
As we drove towards County Cork from County Waterford, the landscape begin to change.  We knew that we would soon be in County Cork and the home of our ancestors, the Donovans.  The landscape appeared more rugged.  Lush farms gave way to smaller ones and in the distance we could see the mountains of West Cork and Kerry beyond.
 
We passed through Youghal (pronounced Yawl), a small town where the River Blackwater meets the sea.  It’s clockgate, built over the main street,with traffic flowing directly under it’s arched form, was built in 1777 and was once a combination of clock tower and jail.  Several United Irishmen were hung from her walls after the failed 1798 uprising.  I envisioned them hanging there, suspended over the main street of the town.  What a gruesome sight that must have been.  Youghal is most famous for having Sir Walter Raleigh as mayor back in 1588-89.
 
Tradition has it that it was he who brought back the first potatoes from the New World.  He first planted them here.  The introduction of the potato into the Irish diet would help to keep the masses alive and healthy for many generations.  But when it failed, mayhem would ensue, for that was all they had to eat, and many suffered harvest to harvest.
 
Our road eventually brought us to Cobh (pronounced Cove), a picturesque seaside town that seems to simply rise up the hillside from the sea.  It was here in 1912 that the Titanic made its last stop – when the town was known as Queenstown.  It was also here that Queen Victoria landed in 1849 when she visited Ireland.  It was also from Cobh that many emigrants made their way for their journey across the Atlantic and probably the port of departure for our ancestors.  It is said that during the "Hungry Years", otherwise known as the "Great Famine", the streets were so littered with people awaiting passage that one would have to step over them.  Many died waiting for a ship.  The skyline of Cobh is dominated by the spire of St. Colman’s Cathedral.  Today, small boats, fishing and pleasure, bobble up and down in her harbour.
 
Across the marshes from Cobh, we could see the City of Cork and it was here that we ventured next.  Cork City is Ireland’s second largest city with a population of 180,000 – though you would hardly believe it from first glance.  It is compact in size and with a low skyline.  Built on marshlands, the main part of the city is on the flats and an island between the two channels of the River Lee.  Most of the southside of the city is built on the marsh while the northside scrambles up the hillside, clinging to it.  Urban sprawl is evident and signs of Ireland’s new prosperity are visible as subdivisions, all mapped out and tidy spread out beyond.
 
Unfortunately, our timing to visit Cork City couldn’t have been worse.  We arrived in the heart of the city in rush hour traffic so we quickly escaped again across the River Lee.  Following the river west, we passed by some very expensive real estate – part of the new suburbia that spread out along the riverside.  We had been looking for a good Bed and Breakfast, but found none in this area so decided to head north towards Blarney where we were sure to see lots.  We stopped at a crossroad to get our bearings but it took me a good ten minutes with the map spread out to see where we were.  The signpost – like many in Ireland – was topheavy with several direction signs showing not only directions to towns, but other things of note to tourists.  To add to the confusion, it had become loose with time and had spun around on itself.  All of the signs were pointing in the wrong direction from where we had come from!
 
After much twisting of the map and standing almost on my head to read the sign, we left the rush hour traffic and headed north towards Blarney.  At Tower, we found Ashlee Lodge.  The owner, a Mrs. O’Leary, we immediately labelled "Martha Stewart".  The house could have been out of one of her magazines.  It was pristine and absolutely perfect inside and out and very well decorated.  Our room was much the same and well co-ordinated.  The drapes were custom made to match the decor.  The rest of the house was also out of Martha Stewart Living with a lovely collection of Waterford crystal and expensive Irish pottery.  Mrs. O’Leary lived up to Martha’s reputation at breakfast the next morning.  We had fine china, real linen napkins and a breakfast menu – rare indeed in a B&B.  My mother and Jane settled for the traditional Irish breakfast but I couldn’t ignore the variety and settled instead for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. It was to die for!
 
A gentle mist fell throughout the next morning, but the skies cleared for the afternoon.  We drove around Blarney and I saw Blarney Castle but opted not to kiss the Blarney stone.  The town, rightly so, is a town built on tourism.  Every second house is a B&B or small junky gift shop geared for the tourist.  It looked like it had been a lovely town before all of that arrived.  We did stop at the Blarney Woolen Mill’s shop which is a massive two-storey building in the heart of town.  I was impressed more with the huge blooming rhododendrum in the parking lot than the shop.  It was massive and tree sized, not like my wee bush at the cottage. We did locate a automated internet machine that was coin operated.  It was finger touch operated, with no keyboard, and we did manage to pump in enough coin to get the NHL scores back in Canada but were not able to check our e-mail before the time ran out.
 
From Blarney we went south again and then west as we followed the River Lee.  We had had enough of brash toursim, and travelled the back roads – R619, 585 and 590 towards Bandon. 
As we came away from the River Lee, the narrow roads became twisty and the countryside less manicured.  We passed near Beal-na-Blath where Michael Collins was assassinated in 1922.  It was easy to see how he was ambushed in this landscape.  A steep forested twisty road brought us down into the valley and to Bandon, a drab little greystoned town.  We found the first evidence of our family name – on a billboard for a convenience store.  We lunched in a cafeteria built in a courtyard of a block of shops. 

 Attached to a bakery, Jakes provided one of the best "soup-of-the-day" we had had.  A menu anywhere in Ireland that advertises "soup-of-the-day" is invariably "Cream of Vegetable" soup.  Only once on our trip was the "soup-of-the-day" not this.  Rich and creamy, with a piece of wheaten bread on the side, this soup clings to your innards.  Jakes also had the best lemon pie I have ever had and the piece was humungous!

 
As we came out of the square we noticed that people were gathering at a massive Roman Catholic Church at the top of a hill which dominated the town.  We thought it was a noon day mass, but it was obvious that it was something bigger.  People strolled in from all sides for a funeral of a local merchant.  We bypassed the funeral, and strolled around the graveyard attached to the church.  We found several Donovans therein, but like many churchyards with cemeteries in Ireland, this cemetery was more recent – and graves there only dated back to the last decade of the nineteenth century.
 
I knew that there must be an older cemetery about somewhere and stopped an elderly man on his way to the funeral for directions.  Now I’ve always had a theory about stopping people for directions – always stop a senior who looks like they belong in the community to get information.  This fellow fit the criteria to a "T", but sometimes my theory fails and did so today.  Dressed in his finest for the funeral, it was pretty obvious that the suit he wore was saved for just such occasions.  Uncomfortable in his church clothes, he nonetheless took the time to try and explain.  He was obliging indeed but I hadn’t a clue what he said.  In his thick Corkian accent, through a toothless grin, he attempted three times to give me directions.  His hands also flailed about as he spoke.  He reminded me of the old farmer Mr. Moleturd on the hotel version of the British comedy series "Are You Being Served?".  Only about every seventh word was understandable.  I got the words "old", "red", "left", "goat", and "right".  Nothing else made sense.  I thanked him for his time and we motored on out of Bandon and on to Clonakilty.
 
High Street ClonakiltyWe setted in Clonakilty – or as my sister Jane called it "Clunk-a-kitty" for the night.  Clonakilty is a lovely market town, known for its colourful handpainted signs and colourful buildings.  I strolled down the High Street and took some lovely shots.  This was apparently uncommon, as three ladies with shopping bag carts stopped gossiping long enough to see what I was doing.  They gave me a stare as I passed by and then resumed gossiping.  I was particularly interested in O’Donovan’s Hotel and not just because it carried our family name.  Many of Ireland’s top politicians stayed here and gave speeches from its small balcony on the second floor to a crowd below.  Among them were Daniel O’Connell, de Valera, Donovan Rossa and even Charles Stewart Parnell.  The town itself was well-kept and manicured.
 
The highlight of the town, however, was our accomodations.  I recommend the Riverside B&B, just off the High Street, to anyone passing through town.  It is a treat in itself and came with it’s own entertainment.  The "woman of the house" offered us a separate contained unit – a "Granny House" they had had built for her parents who had decided they "were not old enough for one" and we were thrilled. It was nice to have a place to ourselves.  The entertainment was provided by the "man of the house".  Tall and wiry, and a bit spastic, Richard Darcy’s movements and antics kept us in stitches throughout our stay in Ireland and well afterwards too.
 
My sister Jane first encountered him while taking our luggage out of the trunk.  He literally bounded out of the house and popped up in her face to ask if all was well and if we had enough towels.  She was startled at first and arrived at our door with the luggage and fits of laughter.  A little while later I went out to the car for something and again he bounded out of nowhere with arm outstretched.  In it was a cup of milk for our tea.  As quickly as he bounded out of the house, he rushed back inside again, leaving me standing in the driveway with a cup of milk and startled out of my mind.  I returned to the room in fits of laughter as my sister did and nearly spilled the milk on the way.  Richard Darcy was immediately dubbed "Basil" of the British sitcom "Faulty Towers".  All his mannerisms were hilarious.
 
Breakfast was just as comical.  We were hardly in the house when he bounded about again, jumping out in front of us with a towel over his left arm.  He rushed us into a very tasteful dining room of bright yellows and blues.  He then flitted about a cupboard on his tippy-toes as he listed off at full verbal speed the list of offerings which included a vast array of juices, fruit and cereals to hold us till the "full breakfast" arrived.  He was so spastic and full of such energy that it was everything we could do not to burst into laughter.  His mannerisms and appearance were unmistakable.  Had he tipped our breakfast in our laps, poured coffee in our cereal bowls, or even walked away with the tablecloth tucked in his pants, we would have not been surprised – or cared!  The entertainment was worth the cost of Riverside B&B and I recommend it to everyone!
 
After breakfast we went to explore an old abandoned graveyard we had seen the day before on the top of a hill in Clonakilty.
 
CLONAKILTY’S FORGOTTEN ONES

They lie at the top of the hill Clonakilty Burial Ground
On a road that went to others 
But now leads to nowhere. 
Overgrown with gorse and bramble,
There are no signs – no recognition. 
The gate and turnstile,

Rusted from years of disrepair and neglect
Encase their shrine. 

Here lie Chieftains and seanachies, 
Bards, farmers, and townspeople – 
Makers of the past – now forgotten. 
From massive tombs open to the wind, 
To Celtic crosses once lovingly carved, 
And small markers hand-tolled crudely, 
And beyond – to the unmarked expanse 
of the famine graves – all silent now.

Moss and weeds cling to the stones, 
Yet mayflowers and bluebells battle them 
to stand sentinel over all who lie here – 
A precious splash of colour in salute. 
A crow shrieks menacingly from on high – 
His cry a warning that this is his domain now, 
And that it is he who is guardian and 
Caretaker of the souls that lie within.

There is family buried here, 

On the hillside above Clonakilty.
Their names have passed down 
Through the stormy generations
And crossed the seas to Canada.
Here lies John, and Daniel and Michael 
Alone you are, but not forgotten, 
Your memory crosses the sea with me.

It was a clear day, but cool, as we left Clonakilty to explore West Cork and Donovan territory.  We took the N71 towards Rosscarbery, the birthplace of O’Donovan Rossa in 1831.  He was born the same year our people left Ireland.  We stopped in the small village of Leap – a one-way street village, squeezed between two steep hillsides.  We were really in Donovan territory now as evidenced by the many shop-fronts signs with Donovan on them – or perhaps it was one wealthy Donovan who owned all of them!  It seemed that half the village was going into mass so mother and Jane followed them in while I went to explore the High Street and the graveyard behind the church that was literally built into the hillside.  It was a steep climb to the cemetery behind and I wondered how the pallbearers managed such a climb after funerals with caskets as well!  There were several O’Donovans buried here and many of their tombs listed their farm names as well.  But again, the graveyard was modern – early 20th century.

 
As the church spewed out the worshippers after mass, I stopped an older fellow again asking for directions to the old cemetery.  I hadn’t learned from my experience in Bandon.  This fellow had teeth but I still couldn’t break through his thick accent.  My baffled face brought on a second detailed list of directions to the old cemetery but we left confused still.  In fact, I couldn’t swear on a bible, but I think that the second set of directions were entirely different from the first.
 
We opted instead to continue on to Skibbereen.  A market town steeped in history, especially as it related to the Great Famine years.  Thousands died here between 1845-1850 and are buried in mass graves.  We visited Abbeystrowry Cemetery on the River Ilen, just outside the town – the site of the massive burial pits from the famine years.  I couldn’t help but sing the folksong "Skibbereen" while I walked through the site.  We also visited the Famine Museum in Skibbereen.
 
Donovan CastleAs we left Skibbereen, we were very quiet after all that we had seen.  Our laughter over breakfast in Clonakilty seemed so long ago.  We took one of the back roads north through farmland and rolling hillsides towards Aghaville and then turned east towards Drimoleague.  We had every intention of visiting the village as mother had spent time there years ago and first visited Donovan Castle from this small village.  Here she waited hours for a "taxi" to go to the mountain where Donovan Castle was located just to the north and she had to wait as the taxi driver also ran the mortuary and some other business.  It was a real "no hurry" town.  Unfortunately we didn’t get into Drimoleague.  Just before the village, we saw a signpost for O’Donovan Castle and we took this road north and then east to the castle ruins.
 
Built in the 12th Century, by the O"Donovan Chieftain (who had been driven out of Limerick by Brian Boru), the castle was a pitiful reminder of her glory days.  She had gaping holes from an attack by Oliver Cromwell’s men in the 17th century – when she was abandoned.  Impressive still, the castle juts out of a rocky outcrop, and the hole made by Cromwell’s army is still visible.
 
O’DONOVAN CASTLE
 
Once a stronghold
She offered refuge to all around her,
When wars were commonplace.
Her walls were strengthened
By the seanachie’s words
Told ’round a turf fire till dawn’s wee hours.
Her being was once filled
With the dancing music of jigs and reels
Scratched from a fiddler’s bow.
Subdued by Cromwell,
Her people scattered, not by choice,
To the four corners of the earth.
Alone the ruins stand now,
Isolated on a rocky outcrop –
A testament to a history once rich and full.
 
Because the mountain near the castle was named the same as my son, Owen, we motored on thinking we would find a way back to Drimoleague.  The road was paved near the castle, but as we climbed the mountain it quickly turned to gravel and eventually loose dirt and then rose sharply.  Having nowhere to turn around, we continued to climb, balanced precariously on the edge.  Halfway up the track, sheep bounded out in front of us, the wee lambs lagging behind.  They were quickly followed by a small red Toyota – a shepherd on wheels!  We watched this modern farm method with amusement.  He continued to shout at the herd of sheep which went up the mountainside in parade.  At a gap in another field, the shepherd issued another command, and without a fuss, all the sheep entered the new pasture.  We continued to follow the shepherd in the Toyota up the mountain and it eventually turned into quite a climb through switchbacks.  We had no idea at this point where we were but felt he would lead us out somehow.  He did.  We peaked the mountain and roared down the other side.  The shepherd turned into his farm for lunch and we motored on.  The countryside was typically West County Cork, where rock and farmland melted together – a landscape that could support nothing more than sheep.  Farms were scarce and not very prosperous – nothing like the pristine farmlands we had seen in southeastern Ireland.
 
Hopelessly lost, we continued on our trek as we knew we were at least heading west.  We stopped some children and found that we were on a back road leading to Bantry.  We were now a long distance from Donovan Castle and the village of Drimoleague and so carried on.  After a quick lunch in Bantry, we headed north to County Kerry and left County Cork behind for another time.  There will be another time – perhaps several.
Cairn at Johnville

Johnville – An Irish Community

An Honourable Independence – Johnville, an Irish Community

 

2005 Johnville Picnic — Johnville’s Klondike Kate — Johnville Publications — Excerpt from the Irish in America — Newspaper Articles — Letters to the Herald

 
Cairn at Johnville
Founded primarily by the efforts of Bishop John Sweeney, the thriving farm community of Johnville is a fine example of the industriousness, grit and determination of the Irish immigrants to New Brunswick. Facing adverse weather conditions in an extremely remote location, the first settlers of Johnville showed remarkable strength, endurance and fortitude as they carved out their community from the deep forest of Carleton County.

Picture at (R) above: Cairn at Johnville. Text on plaque:
Dedicated to the Memory of the Rt. Reverend John Sweeney, Bishop of Saint John, Whoe Founded the Settlement of Johnville in 1861, and to Those Good Men and Women Who Now Lie Here. “He Does Not Die Who Can Bequeath Some Influence to the Land He Knows.”

With the first settlers arriving in 1862, the arduous task of clearing the land, building shelters, and planting crops for their survival began. Despite these hardships, the naturally cheerful and resilient spirits of the Irish won out and around 1863 the first of many Johnville picnics was held to celebrate their fruitful labours and freehold independence. Games, music, dancing and great food filled the day. The picnic is still famous today and is attended by not only people of Irish ancestry, but also anyone who enjoys fellowship and takes pride in their own heritage.

2005 Johnville Picnic

 
For over 100 years the small community of Johnville has held the Annual Provincial Archives booth at Annual Johnville PicnicJohnville Picnic in early August. (see picture of Provincial Archives Booth at Annual Johnville Picnic at right.) What started as a means for neighbours to relax, enjoy each others company, and to celebrate and give thanks for another bountiful harvest, has become a time of year for residents and former residents to return to the place it all began. Children and grandchildren, friends, neighbours and distant relations, come from places widespread to reconnect with their loved ones, rekindle friendships, and to celebrate the memories of this wonderfully close-knit community.

Visitors interested in the history, heritage and genealogy of the Johnville community make the annual trek to take part in the weekend’s festivities, take in the activities on the fairgrounds, share a meal together, dance and talk to the wee hours, and celebrate their annual Johnville Mass where they will once again give thanks for all they share and the common bonds that bring them back, year after year.
 
The Provincial Archives makes research materials available on-site during the picnic weekend to assist the many visitors from all over the continent, and perhaps even the world. The picture to the right shows the 2005 booth of the Provinical Archives at the Johnville Picnic.

 
Johnville’s Klondike Kate:
 
The area in and around Johnville has a strong Irish heritage and may be best known as the birthplace of Klondike Kate. History Television produced a segment of their "The Canadians" series on Klondike Kate.

 
Johnville Publications
 
Even though Johnville is a small community, by anybody’s standards today, it has generated enough interest to have had its own place in the written histories of Canada. These publications include:

 
An Honourable Independence: The Irish Catholic Settlers of Johnville, Carelton County, New Brunswick – by William Patrick Kilfoil and Mary Kilfoil McDevitt

Johnville: The Centennial Story of An Irish Settlement – by W.P. Kilfoil

The Real Klondike Kate – by Anne Brennan

The Irish in America – by John Francis Maguire

As some of these publications may no longer be in print, please check with your library services to determine if they are available for borrowing.
 
 
For more information and an interesting look back through history, please take the time to browse through the following links for more insight into this early Irish settlement in New Brunswick:

 
– author J.F. Maguire, M.P.
 

Various Newspaper Entries

 
25 July 1861 – Johnville Gets Its Name
09 September 1862 – Johnville Colonization
20 October 1866 – The New Settlements
27 November 1866 – Johnville Prosperity
17 October 1867 – Pastoral Visit to Johnville
 

Letters to the Herald:
 
12 January 1878 – Letter from Johnville
23 February 1878 – Letter from Johnville

Irish in America

The Irish in America

 Chapter III
 

Scene in the Lords — The Irish Race Despaired of — The Settlement of Johnville, New Brunswick — We Enter the Settlement — The First Man and Woman — The Second Man and Woman — Jimmy M’Allister — Mr. Reilly from Baillvourney — Celtic Energy — How the man of no Capital gets along — One Cause of Success — Mass in the Forest — Neither rent nor’ Gale — Other Settlements

 Scene in the Lords
 
On a certain evening of March 1866, there was a more than usual attendance of peers in the House of Lords; and, attracted by the subject for discussion, many members of the Commons occupied the bar, or that portion of the gallery reserved for their accommodation. Among the strangers who were present, was the Roman Catholic Bishop of St. John, New Brunswick, an Irishman, but for nearly forty years a resident in that colony. Earl Grey had given notice of his intention to submit a series of resolutions in reference to the state of Ireland; and the largeness of the attendance was owing more to the gravity of the subject than even to the fame of the statesman by whom it was to be introduced. With that grave and impressive statement, which belongs to the Parliamentary records of the country, this work has no concern; a little incident which occurred during its delivery being the only justification for its mention in these pages.
Standing immediately near the stranger, was a gentleman who displayed marked courtesy to the ‘American’ – as the Bishop simply represented himself to be – pointing out to him the leading peers on either side, and explaining such of the forms and modes of procedure as were likely to be useful to one who was for the first time witness of a debate in the Lords. In the course of his statement Earl Grey necessarily referred to the Emigration movement, which he deplored as a great calamity – a regret, I may remark, shared in by the wisest statesmen and truest patriots of the day; though this annual wasting away of the strength and very life of a nation is regarded, not merely with indifference, but with positive satisfaction, by shallow thinkers, and false judges of the character and capability of the Irish race.
 
 
 
‘My dear sir,’ said the courteous neighbour of the Catholic Bishop, ‘I do not at all agree with his lordship; ‘on the contrary, my deliberate conviction is, unless the ‘Irish go away on their own accord, or are got rid of in ‘some manner or other, and are replaced by our people – I ‘mean the English or the Scotch – nothing good can ever ‘be done with that unhappy country.’
 
The conviction thus deliberately expressed was honestly entertained.  There was no hostility, no anger, no passion, but a deep-seated belief in the truth of the terrible sentence thus tranquilly pronounced on a whole nation.  A similar opinion has been too frequently expressed or insinuated in the public press of England, not perhaps so frequently of late as in former years; and, shocking as the fact may appear to be, there have not been wanting those who call themselves Irishmen, to indorse this insolent slander by their unnatural verdict.
 
Now, if any man in that assembly could most practically and completely refute the scandalous proposition, it was the Catholic Bishop to whom, in the dusk of the evening, and while the gorgeous chamber was yet in the shadows of twilight, his courteous informant thus vouchsafed this candid opinion.  That same day, a few hours before he listened to this sweeping condemnation of the Irish race, Dr. Sweeney had described to me the extraordinary success which had attended his efforts to settle the Irish on the soil of New Brunswick; and how, in the midst of the most trying difficulties, which scarcely any one in the old country could imagine, much less appreciate, the same Irish, of whom the gentleman in the House of the Lords so utterly despaired, had, in an almost incredibly short space of time, won their way to rude comfort and absolute independence.  In that interview I acquainted the Bishop of my intention to make a tour through the British Provinces and the States; and before we separated it was arranged that I should specially visit his latest settlement of our unjustly depreciated countrymen.  The appointment made in London in the month of March was faithfully kept in New Brunswick in the month of October; and on the morning of Thursday, the 25th of that month, the Bishop and I were en route for the settlement, a distance of nearly 200 miles from the city of St. John.
  
 
After having passed the first evening at Frederickton, the capital of New Brunswick, where many Irish are comfortably circumstanced, and steadily increasing in wealth, and the second at Woodstock, where there is also a fair proportion of the race equally thriving, we set out at an early hour on the following morning for the settlement of Johnville, a distance of thirty-five miles, not of rail or water, but of rough road; and about noon on Saturday we were entering the forest avenue which led to the uttermost boundary on the western side.  The road over which we travelled had to me all the charm of novelty, and would have appeared picturesque and striking to any one from the old country, for it resembled rather a cutting through a vast and ancient wood than an ordinary highway.  The Bishop was, as I thought, unnecessarily enthusiastic in his praise of the new road, which, I must confess, I thought altogether fatal to personal comfort, and in the last degree trying to the safety of the springs of our vehicle, though the carriage had been specially adapted to meet such trifling contingencies as deep ruts, profound hollows, occasional chasms, with an abundant variety of watercourses roughly covered over with logs, not always matched with the nicest care.  I appreciated the road from a European point of view, and as it affected my individual comfort; but the Bishop retained a vivid remembrance of the mere lumberman’s track of three or four years previous, and could estimate at its right value the facility which this new highway afforded to his settlers for the transit of their produce and provisions.  As we proceeded through our couple of miles of dense forest – in which the dark green of the pine and the brighter verdure of the spruce contrasted with the prevailing sombre hue of the hard wood, occasionally relieved by the bright yellow leaves of the beech, and the gleaming crimson of the frost-tinted maple – we were met by two or three of the country waggons, laden with grain, and driven by strapping young fellows, roughly but comfortably clad, their stout horses trotting briskly along the Bishop’s model highway.  These young men were delighted to see their good Pastor, whom they saluted with a mixture of respect and affection, and with whom they chatted with the most perfect freedom.  They promised to spread far and wide the grateful intelligence that Mass would be celebrated at eight o’clock the following morning in the little chapel of the settlement.
 
Before we enter the Irish settlement of Johnville, it will be necessary to explain briefly its origin and the conditions under which it was established.
 
Deploring the tendency – the ruinous tendency – of his countrymen to congregate in masses in cities, or to ‘hang about town,’ as it is generally described, and being thoroughly conversant with the many evils resulting from this prevailing habit of the Irish immigrant, the Bishop of St. John determined to employ his influence to induce numbers of his people to settle on the soil, and thus, amid the simplicity and safety of a rural existence, create for themselves a happy home and an honourable independence.  Availing himself of the facilities afforded by the Labour Act, he applied to the Government for tracts of unoccupied land on certain conditions, one being that he should find settlers for this land within a limited time.  His first application was for 10,000 acres, which were to be occupied in twelve months.  For this quantity of land settlers were found within the prescribed period.  A second 10,000 acres were then applied for, and similarly occupied; and an additional 16,000 acres, also obtained by the Bishop, were yet to be occupied by those who possessed the requisite courage to face the difficulties and temporary hardships of a new existence.  There were then in actual occupation 170 lots, of 100 acres each; and allowing for the settlers with families, and the young men who had not yet entered into the bonds of wedlock, the number of souls in the settlement of Johnville might be fairly estimated at 600 at the very lowest – a terrible responsibility to the Bishop, if his influence had been unwisely used, but a triumph and a consolation to him if it had been exercised in a spirit of wisdom and humanity. Of this the reader can form a judgment from what follows.
 
Each settler was required by the State, as the principal condition of obtaining 100 acres of land, to give work, to the value of sixty dollars, on the public road that was to pass by his own door; and was intended for his own advantage; but while, if so inclined, he could perform this amount of work in one year, he was allowed four years for its completion. Before he could obtain the registry of his grant, somewhat analogous to a Parliamentary title in Ireland, he should be returned by the Commissioner as having executed this required amount of work, cleared five acres, built a house at least sixteen feet square, and actually settled as a resident on the land assigned to him.  These conditions had been complied with, in all cases, within the four years allowed, but in most they had been satisfied in two years, and by a considerable number of the settlers in a still shorter time.  When the return is made by the Commissioner, who visits the settlement once a year, the grant is then formally registered and issued, and the settler becomes the fee-simple proprietor of 100 acres of land, the property of himself and his family, and of which no power on earth can deprive him or them.  Should a poor man be fortunate enough to be the father of one, or two, or more sons, of the age of eighteen or upwards, he can procure 100 acres for each of them on the same conditions; and though a large family; is regarded with horror by your Malthusians of the old country; it is a blessing of inestimable value in a new country, in which human labour – that grandest of fertilisers and mightiest of civilisers – finds its true appreciation.
The first tenement which the settler in the forest contrives for himself is a camp, or shanty.  It is constructed of logs rudely put together, the interstices filled up with moss, leaves, or clay, whatever can best keep out the wind and the cold; the roof consisting of the same materials, further protected, by a covering of bark, eked out, it may be, with branches of the pine, the spruce, or the cedar.  Warmed by a stove, or carefully prepared fire-place, the camp or shanty is considered to be a dwelling of surpassing comfort by the settler who commences his first winter in the forest. In a year or two, perhaps a longer time, the rude camp is abandoned for the more spacious and elaborately constructed log cabin, or log house; and when the settler arrives at the ‘frame house’ and the frame barn, he looks upon himself as having reached the climax of earthly comfort, and even the highest point of luxurious accommodation; though possibly in a few years after the frame house gives way to the substantial brick dwelling, porticoed, and pillared – the glory and delight of its hospitable owner.
 
We enter the Settlement
 
Jolting and jumping over many an agreeable variety in the surface of the road, which the Bishop and I regarded with quite opposite feelings, we came to the end of our verdant avenue, and reached a little eminence crowned by a chapel of modest dimensions and unpretending architecture.  From this vantage ground the first portion of the Irish settlement of Johnville opened out before us; and though, on that sharp October day, the sun but occasionally lit up the landscape with its cheerful beams, one could easily imagine how beautiful it must appear in summer, when the wide valley is filled with waving corn, varied with bright patches of potatoe, and the surrounding woods are clad in all the varied verdure of the living forest.  Bounded on all sides by a wall of trees, which in one direction cover a range of mountains as beautiful in their outline as those that are mirrored in the sweet waters of Killarney, an undulating plain of cleared land extends about two miles in length by a mile in breadth, dotted over with the most striking evidences of man’s presence and the progress of civilisation, – comfortable dwellings, substantial and even spacious barns – horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry of all kinds, from the loud-crowing ‘rooster’ to the puddle-loving duck and the solemn goose.  Even to the eye of an Irish farmer, the vast plain before us would have presented a rough and rather unpromising aspect, for not two acres of the many hundred already ‘cleared’ were yet free from the stumps of the great trees whose lofty branches had waved and moaned in the storms of ages.  The road, bounded by rude log fences, and the limits of each holding marked out in the same primitive manner, and stumps a couple of feet high plentifully scattered over every field, – this at the first glance would not favourably impress the Irish farmer, to say nothing of the English Yeoman or the Scotch Lowlander; but were he to overcome his first impressions of the strangeness of all he saw, and enquire into its details, he would soon discover much to astonish and much to gratify him.  The stumps, that impart so strange and rough an appearance to any early settlement, cannot be destroyed or eradicated for some years to come; yet, from the first year that the trees had been laid low by the settler’s axe, abundant crops of grain and potatoes had been raised with comparatively little trouble; and large quantities of hay, priceless as winter food, had likewise borne witness to the fertility of the soil on which a constant succession of leaves had fallen and rotted through countless ages.
 
The First Man and Woman
 
In the fall of 1861 the first settlers, a man and his wife – Mr. and Mrs. Hugh M’Cann – entered the forest, bringing with them provisions for the winter, and a very moderate stock of furniture and other valuables, which the prudent pair had accumulated by their industry in the city of St. John.  Through a mere track, the oxen, lent by a kindly Irish family, slowly dragged after them the entire worldly wealth of this stout-hearted couple, the pioneers of the civilisation so soon to follow in their footsteps.  Right in the midst of the forest – never before trodden save by the Indian, the lumberman, or the wild animal – the M’Canns settled down, resolved to brave the severity of the approaching season.  The first thing to be done was to erect a log cabin, and for the rougher portion of this indispensable work the thrifty pair were able to pay; but they had to cover their dwelling by their own labour, which they did with great pieces of bark and branches torn from the trees under whose shadow they took up their abode.  Here then they were, in the heart of what to them was a wilderness, more than two miles from a human habitation, and even uncertain of the way by which they could reach the outer world; their only guide being either a faint track, or an occasional mark, or scar, made on the bark of a tree.  Still they were not in the least degree discouraged.  Mrs. M’Cann had pluck and cheerfulness sufficient for a more hazardous enterprise.  With a good stove, and an occasional quilt or blanket, suspended on the walls as tapestry, the cold was effectually kept out, and the lonely hours made comfortable during the bitter winter.  Armed with his keen axe, Hugh cut and chopped through the months while the snow covered the ground; and so resolutely did he work, that when the white mantle vanished from the earth before the warmth of the spring, the M’Canns had cleared several acres of their land; and in the Autumn of 1862 they gathered in their first produce – an abundant harvest of potatoes, oats, and buckwheat.  A proud woman was Mrs. Hugh M’Cann, as she did the honours of her forest home to the settlers of 1862; and prouder still as she afforded hospitality and the shelter of her warm roof to many who had yet to raise a dwelling over their heads.  I could well appreciate the brave and cheery nature of this humble Irishwoman, as the Bishop and I – after a lengthened and somewhat laborious tour through the settlement – sat before the well-replenished stove which had so often warmed the limbs of the wayfarer, and smiled its ruddy welcome to the heart of the exile; and I listened to Mrs. M’Cann while she chatted gaily to her guests, making light of trials and difficulties that would have daunted many a lord of creation.  She laughed, as she told of her furniture being flung by a surly captain on the shore of the river; how she lost her temper with the fellow,’ and did not recover it for ever so long; how tartly she replied in a spirit not of the mildest theology, to the kindly-intentioned queries of a Free-will Baptist; how ‘it was as good as any theaytre’ to see Hugh and herself tramping after the lumbering oxen, and all their cherished property nodding and shaking on the jolting waggon; how Hugh spent a portion of his first Sunday – ‘after saying hour prayers, Bishop, by all means’ – in making the frame of the door, while she constructed the door ‘with her own two hands;’ how happy they felt as, the cold being effectually barred out, they sat down before their bright stove, and drank a rousing cup of tea; how, as time rolled on, and the forest receded before the resolute axe, and the fields grew in dimensions, and cattle lowed round their house, and hogs grunted in the piggery, and roosters and their wives strutted and clucked, she had a tremendous battle with a skunk that assailed her chickens, and how, single-handed, and appealing in vain to unheroic or sleepy Hugh, she slew the invader of infamous odour, and then nearly fainted through fatigue, excitement, and the overpowering stench it emitted; how as many as sixteen used to lie at night on every available spot of the floor, and the priest was curtained off by a quilt in a corner to himself; and how, with the help of God, the more she gave the more she had to give. A pleasant hour’s chat was that with Mrs. M’Cann, who did the honours of her log cabin with the ease of a duchess.
 
The Second Man and Woman
 
The second woman settler merits special notice, were it only to prove, to would-be sceptics, that the relations between the landlord and the tenant in the old country have really something to do with the Irish peasant’s migration to the New World.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Crehan, of Galway, had been tenants on a certain property in that country; and this property having, in some way respecting which Mrs. Crehan was a little bewildering in her explanation, come into the possession of a gentleman with a fine old Galwegian name, the tribulation of the Crehans commenced.  The first thing done by the new landlord was to raise the rent on his tenants, the second to deprive them of their mountain pasture, the third to cut off the shore and its seaweed from their free use, and the fourth to persecute a cherished pig with degrading pound, and its indignant owners with harassing fines. It is the last drop that causes the glass to overflow; and possibly the wrongs inflicted on the friend of the family and traditional rent-payer filled to overflowing the brimming measure of their woes; for the Crehans made up their minds to go somewhere – anywhere – ‘to the end of the world’ – rather than remain in a state of abject vassalage, dependent on the caprice or avarice of the gentleman with the fine old Galwegian name, ‘and a holy Roman, too, if you plaze,’ as Mrs. Crehan scoffingly assured me.  The Parish Priest was consulted by the afflicted pair; and he, having seen the letters of the Bishop of St. John, which had been published in the Irish papers, advised them to proceed at once to New Brunswick, and take land for themselves and their children in the Johnville settlement, ‘where no man or no law can take it from you or them,’ added their counsellor.  The advice was instantly adopted by the Crehans, to whom the now wiser landlord would have been glad to let a much larger farm than that whose rent he had so arbitrarily raised. But it was too late; and so, after paying, ‘to the last farthing, everything they owed in the world,’ they took ship for St. John with their large family of children, their hard-earned savings, and, what they prized scarcely less, a letter from their Parish Priest to the Bishop.
 
On their arrival in St. John they lost no time in seeking the Bishop, to whom they presented their only credential, the letter that was ‘to make a landlord Dinny.’  The wife at that time spoke English perfectly, while the husband understood no other language than that which is the sweetest to hear and the softest to the tongue of the Connaught peasant; and clustering round this seeminly helpless couple, was a swarm of young children, some little more than toddling infants.
 
As the Bishop heard their story, and glanced at the group of young creatures, he looked upon the case as almost desperate: the husband, who had to rely on his wife’s somewhat questionable powers as an interpreter, might not be able to make himself understood, and probably the struggle would be too severe for the children.  Therefore he sought to dissuade them from the attempt which they were so anxious to make. But to go into the forest they were determined, and go into it they did – with a result which is pleasant to narrate.
 
Their entire worldly means consisted of 20£, with which they had to provide every necessary for a large family until the first crop could be reaped and gathered in.  There was, however, the right stuff in the poor Galway emigrants, although they were of the purest type of that Celtic race of whose capacity your self-complacent Anglo-Saxon stupidly affects to despair.  In an incredibly short space of time the Crehans had a sufficient quantity of land cleared, fenced, and cropped, a spacious log house and ample barn constructed; a horse, and cows, and hogs, and sheep, were purchased, or raised on this farm in the wilderness; and when the Bishop and I walked through their property, and inspected their wealth in barn and field, these despised and persecuted peasants were in possession of 200 acres of land, and such independence as they never dreamed of in Galway.
 
Volubly did Mrs. Crehan – a dark-haired, sharp-eyed, comely matron – tell of her treatment in Ireland, and her trials in her new home, as she welcomed the Bishop and ‘the gentleman from the ould country’ into her log cabin, which, in a few days, she was to abandon for a grand frame house, constructed on the most approved principles of American domestic architecture.  This mansion was evidently an object of the most intense pride to Mrs. Crehan, who was much complimented by the expression of our desire to see it.  As we proceeded towards the new building, which was then receiving its protecting coat of ‘shingle,’ I remarked that she must have felt somewhat lonely on her first entrance into the forest.
 
‘Thrue for you, sir, it was lonely for us, and not a living sowl near us, but the childer.  Indeed, sir, ‘twas only by an ould stump that I knew whether I was near home or not; and other times we couldn’t find our way at all, only for a cut on a tree.  And ‘twas the owls – the divils! – that would make a body’s heart jump into their mouth. Oh, sir, they screeched and screeched, I declare, like any Christian, till they frightened the childer out of their sivin sinses.  The little boy – he’s a fine fellow now – would catch hould of mo by the gownd, and cry out, “Oh, mammy, mammy! what a place daddy brought us to! – we’ll be all ate up to-night – mammy, mammy, we’ll be all ate up to-night.”  You know, sir, it’s easy to frighten childer, the craychers,’ apologised the mother.
 
‘But, Mrs. Crehan, I suppose you don’t regret having come here?’
 
‘Deed, then no, sir, not a bit of it.  No, thanks be to the Lord, and blessed be His holy name!  We have plenty to ate and drink, and a good bed to lie on, and a warm roof over our heads, and, what’s more than that, all we have is our own, and no one to take it from us, or to say “boo” to us.  The grief I have is that there’s only the 200 acres – for I’d dearly like another hundred for the second boy.  And, sir, if you ever happen to go to Galway and see Mr. Blank (the gentleman with the fine old Galwegian name), you may tell him from me, that I’m better off than himself, and more indipindent in my mind; and tell him, sir all the harm I wish him is for him to know that much.  ‘Twas the lucky day he took our turf and the sayweed – and a bad weed he was, the Lord knows.’
 
Jimmy M’Allister
 
‘Mrs. Crehan, where’s the ould man?’ asked a crabbed little fellow, who seemed anxious to do the honours of the settlement to the strange gentleman, and who would keep us company, for a bit of the road.’

‘Where is he gone, is it? Why then, Jimmy, he’s gone to sell a cow,’ was the good woman’s reply.

‘Gone to sell a cow!’ exclaimed Jimmy, with an expression of affected horror.  ‘Yea, Mrs. Crehan, ma’am, what do you want partin’ with your beautiful cow?’

‘What do I want partin’ with the cow, is it? Then, Jimmy, it’s to pay what I owe, and I don’t like to be in debt; that’s what it manes, Jimmy.’

‘Bravo, Mrs. Crehan!’ said the Bishop; ‘I admire your principle. Never be in debt, if you possibly can avoid it.’

 
Jimmy was silenced, thinking perhaps that Mrs. Crehan had the best of the argument, the more so as his lordship was on her side.
 
Jimmy M’Allister may not be the wisest or most sagacious adult male in the settlement; but, fortunately for him, he has a better half, who looks sharply after all things, Jimmy included.   Mrs. M’Allister is of so thrifty a turn that she would pick a feather off the road; and indeed so successfully had she picked up and bartered this article of comfort and commerce, that she was then after selling four good beds for the respectable sum of 16£ – no small addition to the annual revenue of the M’Allisters.  Jimmy was of a different turn of mind: he would rather pick up a grievance than a feather; and the want of a priest for the settlement was a topic on which he dilated with persistent eloquence, notwithstanding the Bishop’s repeated assurances that there would be a resident priest in the course of the following spring.

‘But, my lord,’ persisted Jimmy, ‘he’s wanted bad; and that’s no lie.  Faith, my lord, a body may die three times over in this place before he could send for the priest; and as for that, a poor fellow mightn’t have the dollars convaynient to send for the doctor – two dollars goin’ and two dollars comin’ – Be dad, my lord -’

‘Well, Jimmy, please God, you shall have the priest next spring,’ said the Bishop.

‘That may all be thrue, sir – my lord!’ – but, after all, a body may die three times over before he could send for him, and then, my lord -’

‘Very well, Jimmy, you will be sure to have him,’ said the Bishop with additional emphasis, in the hope of satisfying the unappeasable grievance-monger.

‘And, my lord, sure this settlement is well able to support its own priest, and I tell you he’s much wanted – and, for the matter of that, a poor body may die three times over before he could be able to send for him -’

 
A rumour that Mrs. M’Allister was in sight had a marvellous influence on Jimmy, who asked for and obtained a ready leave of absence from the Bishop, on the plea of ‘urgent private business,’ which, in his zeal for the spiritual welfare of his fellow-sinners, he had altogether forgotten. Jimmy rapidly fell behind, and was not seen till the following morning.
 
 
Mr. Reilly from Baillvourney
 
Amongst other settlers whom we visited, was a Cork man, named Reilly, from beyond Macroom, and who, ‘every day he rose in the old country saw Ballyvourney before his two eyes.’  Reilly was a man of middle age, grave countenance, handsome features, including a marked aquiline nose, of deliberate utterance, the richest of Munster brogues, and a splendid faculty for rolling the ‘r’ like the rattle of a drum under the hands of Frenchman; and it would seem as if honest Reilly had a preference for words that enabled him to display this faculty to the greatest perfection.  The manner in which he pronouned ‘your lordship,’ ‘your-r-r lor-r-rdship’ was grand.
 
Reilly had come out in the May of 1862; and all he had, besides an immense family – there were eleven children in the settlement in October 1866 – was a little money for provisions, and an axe.  But the man, and the axe, and the will and power to use it, were ‘with God’s help,’ equal to the work to be done; and so resolutely did he set to his task, so vigorously did he and his eldest boy hew away at the forest, that he was enabled to gather in 100 bushels of potatoes that fall.  These, and what remained in the flour-barrel, kept the wolf from the door of Reilly’s little sheepfold.  And so the stout Cork man and his sturdy boy toiled on, season after season, and year after year, until, in October 1866, the settler of 1862 had cleared between forty and fifty acres of land, and was the owner of two yoke of oxen, six cows, several sheep and hogs, a good log house, to which he had just added a commodious loft, a fine barn, a piggery of suitable strength and dimensions.
 
‘Well, Reilly, I congratulate you,’ said the Bishop. ‘What you have done in the time is most creditable to you.’
 
‘Well, my lord, I am getting along purty well, I thank my Maker for it.  We have raison to be grateful and contented, your lordship, with what we’ve done.  There is a good prospect for us and the children, the Lord be praised!  Sure enough, ‘twas a great change from the ould country to this.  Glory, too, to the Lord for that same!’
 
It may be remarked, that my excellent countryman secured to himself in this short speech ample opportunity for the display of his r’s, which came magnificently; into play.
 
A glance into the comfortable and spacious house, where Mrs. Reilly was employed in dressing a plump representative of the Reillys, afforded material for pleasing speculation; for near the big table at the opposite side of the room, stood a pair, whose conscious manner – the same kind of thing one may see in a drawing-room – evidently portended speedy employment for the resident priest for whose advent Jimmy M’Allister so ardently sighed.
 
Celtic Energy
 
Having visited many of the houses in the first great clearance, we drove through the forest, a distance of two miles, and came to a plain or valley of far greater extent, stretching five miles in one direction, but similar in its leading features to that which we had just left. It may be remarked, in order to be accurate, that the Crehan family were among the occupiers of this portion of the settlement; but as Mrs. Crehan was the second woman who had braved the difficulties of a life amidst the woods, I somewhat anticipated in her case.  The vast tract stretching out before us was reclaimed, or cleared, on the low ground, and on the gentle elevation, and up the side of the mountain range that ran parallel to the plain.  Here, as in the first clearance, were the same evidences of the presence of man and the power of that most effective capital of all – human labour well directed.  Decent houses and ample barns were to be seen in every direction; and, what was the most hopeful indication of the thrift and energy of the settlers, was the fact that, in very many instances, while the family still remained in the primitive log house, the barn for the reception and storage of grain and other produce was large, substantial, and built in the best style common to the province.  In numerous cases we found settlers to possess two frame barns, with spacious piggeries constructed of logs, from which the well-known melodious sounds unceasingly issued.  In a very rare instance was the original camp or shanty tenanted; but where it was still the dwelling-place of the family, a fair proportion of the land was cleared, and a good barn was filled with the produce of a prosperous season.  One of the settlers, named M’Mahon, had just completed a frame house which, for extent, outward appearance, and interior comfort and accommodation, was equal to almost any farmer’s dwelling I had seen in New Brunswick, from Shediac to St. John, or from St. John to Johnville – a distance of 300 miles. M’Mahon had brought some capital into the forest, the result of his industry as a blacksmith. His new trade appeared to thrive with him, as he was surrounded with the most convincing evidences of prosperity and comfort.
 
How the man of no Capital gets along
 
It must not, however, be supposed that all who came into the settlement brought more or less pecuniary capital with them.  Many – indeed, the majority – commenced without any capital save that comprised in their health, their strength, and their willingness to work.  ‘Nothing, sir, but my own four bones, a sharp axe, and the help of the Lord,’ was the pithy and pious response of more than one toiler in the forest, as he was asked of his struggles and success.  This is how the settler with no capital save that indicated in the reply mentioned, managed to ‘get along.’  Having earned, by working for others, as much as enabled him to procure an axe and provisions for a month or two, he boldly faced the forest, perhaps with a wife and one or more children.  Fortunate was the settler if he could obtain the friendly assistance of a neighbour to raise the first rude shelter for his young wife and her infants; but in the earlier period of the short history of the settlement such assistance was not always procurable, and the pioneer of future civilisation had to construct his shanty ‘any how he could.’  Satisfied that he had thus secured a home for his wife and little ones, he laid about him vigorously with his keen axe, smiting many a tree which would have formed the proudest ornament of an English park, and prostrating pine, beech, oak, and maple, with the same unsparing energy. T he rapid decrease of the scanty provisions would but too soon warn the bread-winner that he must linger no longer in the camp; and leaving his loved ones to the protection of Providence, he would again go out in search of work, which was always to be found.  On the Saturday night the poor fellow might be seen – by the owls, were those grave birds on the lookout, or by a casual wayfarer like himself – trudging along the rough highway, or rude track, bearing on his shoulders the grateful burden of the next month’s provisions, won in the sweat of his brow by honest toil.  Thus he would work occasionally for others, and then slash around him with his trusty axe, until he had cleared a few acres, and planted them with grain and potatoes, built a barn, and gathered in the first blessed fruits of his industry.  And so on, from the shanty to the log cabin, from the log cabin to the frame house, and the couple of barns, and the yoke of oxen, and the milch cows, and the flock of sheep, and the great breeding sow and her clamorous offspring, – so on to independence, comfort, and content.  This is literally the substance of many a simple tale, gratefully volunteered, or easily elicited by a few leading questions.
 
The settlers of Johnville are invariably kind to each other, freely lending to a neighbour the aid which they may have the next day to solicit for themselves. By this mutual and ungrudging assistance, the construction of a dwelling, or the rolling of logs and piling them in a heap for future burning, has been quickly and easily accomplished; and crops have been cut and gathered in safely, which without such neighbourly aid might have been irrecoverably lost.  This necessary dependence on each other for mutual help in the hour of difficulty draws the scattered settlers together by ties of sympathy and friendship; and while none envy the progress of a neighbour, whose success is rather a subject for general congratulation, the affliction of one of these humble families brings a common sorrow to every home.  I witnessed a touching illustration of this fraternal and Christian sympathy.  Even in the heart of the primitive forest we have sickness, and death, and frenzied grief, just as in cities with histories that go back a thousand years.  A few days previous to my visit a poor fellow had become mad, his insanity being attributed to the loss of his young wife, whose death left him a despairing widower with four infant children.  He had just been conveyed to the lunatic asylum, and his orphans were already taken by the neighbours, and made part of their families.  One of them peered curiously at my companion and myself from under the peak of a huge fur cap that almost rested on his little nose, as the Bishop was enquiring after the family of a fortunate settler, named Murphy, who had brought the eldest of the orphans to his comfortable home.  How long these tender sympathies and beautiful charities may resist the influence of selfishness, or civilisation, I know not; but that they then existed in strength and holiness I was abundantly convinced.
 
  One Cause of Success
 
To one cause may be attributed some of the success which has crowned the labours of these Irish settlers, and the wishes of their Bishop and his zealous co-operator, the Rev. Mr. Connolly, the good priest of Woodstock, – the absence of intoxicating drink, or the prevention of its sale in the settlement.  What village in England or Ireland with a population of 600 souls – that of Johnville in the autumn of 1866 – is without its ‘publick?’  Scarcely one; while the probability is that many villages of an equal population in the old country possess two of such establishments.  Against the sale of spirits in the settlement the Bishop has resolutely set his face, and in this salutary policy he has the hearty co-operation of the pastor of Woodstock, to whom much of the merit of the organisation and fortunate progress of the colony belongs.  Rarely is spirituous liquor of any kind brought in the house of a settler, and, save in some special instance, after a hard day’s work, in which many persons are necessarily joined, it is as rarely tasted by this simple and sinless people.  I must, however, admit that, on our return through the entrance avenue, we did meet with an elderly gentleman, who must have been enjoying himself while visiting a friend beyond the limits of the settlement; for not only were his powers as a charioteer considerably impaired, but his damaged articulation imparted a still more bewildering intricacy to ‘the explanation of his discreditable conduct,’ with which, on demand, he favoured the Bishop.
 
The material progress of this Irish settlement may be illustrated by a significant fact – that fat cattle to the value of 200£ were sold to buyers from the States the day of my visit.  What were the feelings of Jimmy M’Allister, as he heard of this tremendous sacrifice of live stock, and which included the cow of Mrs. Crehan, that excited his special interest, it would be difficult to depict; but the fact of this remarkable sale of the surplus stock of a young colony was mentioned with price by one of the most intelligent and energetic of the settlers, Mr. Boyd.
 
Boyd was one of the few who brought a little capital with them into the settlement.  But by far his best and most useful capital consisted of four well-grown, healthy, active sons, and an intelligent hard-working daughter, who adds the functions of post-mistress to the more laborious and profitable duties of housekeeper.  Each of the young Boyds has 100 acres of land in his own right, though they all wisely keep together as one family, and probably will continue to do so until circumstances, over which young people generally have ‘no control’, compel them to prepare for events by no means unlikely in an Irish colony.  One of the ‘boys’ was finishing a splendid barn, another barn being filled by bursting with grain of all kinds.  The father admitted that the property then possessed by the family – himself and his four sons – was fairly worth 1,000£.
 
According to the census, taken at the instance of the Bishop, the estimated value of the land cleared, with the stock, the produce, and the buildings, up to the fall of 1865, was 14,500£. – an immense sum, when it is remembered that up to May 1862 there had been but one family (Hugh M’Cann and his wife) in the settlement, and it was not until 1863 that the greater number of the residents had ventured into the forest.  It was supposed that the estimate for 1866 would have reached 20,000£.  And if such be the result of a few years – three or four at the very utmost – of patient industry, stimulated by the certainty of reward and the security of its possession, what may not be looked for ten years hence, when science and matured experience are brought to the aid of human toil and manly energy?
 
Mass in the Forest
 
Early on the Sunday morning, the roads presented an unusually animated appearance, as groups of settlers moved towards the little chapel in which the Bishop was to celebrate Mass at eight o’clock.  Keen was the wind and sharp the air as the faithful appeared in view, issuing from the forest in various directions, some with horse and waggon, but the greater number sturdily completing a smart walk of five, six, and even ten miles.  Bright and cheerful and happy they all appeared on this auspicious occasion, when they were to hear the voice of their pastor, and join in the most solemn act of Christian worship.  There was no tawdry finery among the women, no dressing beyond their condition with the men; both were decently and suitably clad, good strong homespun being rather common with the latter.  That the ladies had not exhausted the wealth of their wardrobes, or brought out their best at so unfavourable an hour for legitimate display, I was impressively assured; and more than one of the sex – in each case a matron of mature years – volunteered an apology for alleged inelegance of costume, the result, as they urged in extenuation of their sins against Fashion, of the haste required in order ‘to overtake Mass.’  As a proof that there is no lack of sympathy between the occupant of the palace and the tenant of the wilderness, I may mention, as an interesting fact, that on the wall of the bed-room in which I enjoyed my first and last night’s repose in the midst of an American forest, I observed a specimen of that intricate arrangement which is said to have had a royal origin, and is known to the world, admired or execrated, by the name of crinoline.  This is given as an instance, not alone of the omnipotent rule and universal sway of Fashion, but of the progress of Irish settlement in the path of modern civilisation.
 
Beneath the groined roof of lofty cathedral there never knelt a more devout congregation than that which bowed in lowly reverence before the rude altar of the little rustic chapel in Johnville. Here was no magnificence of architecture, no pomp of ceremonial, no pealing organ, no glorious work of the great masters of sacred song; here were no gorgeous pictures glowing from painted windows, no myriad lights on the altar and in the sanctuary, no priests in golden vestments, no robed attendants swinging silver thuribles filled with perfumed incense, – none of these; but a little structure of the simplest form, covered with shingle, and as free from ornament or decoration as the shanty of the settler – with an altar of boards clumsily put together, and covered with a clean but scanty linen cloth.  But those who knelt there that morning felt no want, missed no accessory, sighed for no splendour; their piety required no aid to inflame or sustain it. Exiles from a Catholic land, they were once more under a sacred roof, once more listening to the voice of their Church – once more assisting at the celebration of Mass.  And when the Bishop addressed them in simple and impressive language, such as a father might fittingly address to his children, and promised that he was about to gratify the wish of their hearts by sending a priest to live amongst them, a deep murmur of delight evinced the joy and gratitude of the devoted people.  These, indeed, were tidings of gladness, the fulfilment of their fondest hopes, wanting which, material comfort and worldly prosperity would be in vain.
 
Neither Rent Nor Gale
 
Through one door the women passed out, through the other the men.  By the latter sex I was at once surrounded, and I was soon satisfied that every province and most of the counties in Ireland had a representative in that congregation.  For a good hour they talked and chatted outside the little church, though the air was keen and the morning still raw.  They eagerly enquired after places as well as persons, priests or politicians, and ‘how the old country was getting on’, and ‘whether anything was really to be done for it?’  Oen gave a case of oppression, another of hopeless struggle against rack rent or insecure tenure, as the reason of his flight from the land of his fathers. But of their new home not one had a desponding word to say.  They spoke with pride of their hard work, and their steady progress, and the future which they confidently anticipated. 
‘Well, thank God, ‘tis our own, any how, and nobody can take it from us,’ said one of the settlers; to which there was a general chorus of ‘amens,’ and ‘true for you.’
 
‘Take care, Mick, you havn’t the half-year’s rent ready; so don’t be crowing.’  This pleasant sally from a wag much tickled the audience, who, to do them justice, were willing to laugh at the smallest joke.
 
‘Tis true, Dan, boy; but there’s nobody lookin’ for it,’ replied Mick, who added, in a voice of affected commiseration that was ‘as good as a play,’ and was rewarded with an approving shout – ‘but, faith, I’m thinking the agint has the mazles, or the rhumatiz, poor man! or he’d be here before now for it.’
 
‘Jimmy’ – to my friend of the day before – ‘is your gale to the fore?’ asked a pleasant-looking Tipperary boy.
 
‘Little we trouble ourselves with gales, or storms aither, in these parts,’ replied Mr. M’Allister, whose innocent wit was rewarded with such vociferous applause that I dreaded the effect on his naturally abundant vanity.
 
‘True for you, Jimmy, the misthress attends to the rint, and that kind of business. I hope she’ll be sure and keep the resute, – ‘tis bad to lose the writin’ – as I know, to my cost.’
 
‘There’s a boy,’ said Mr. M’Allister, pointing to a vigorous young settler of some six feet in his vamps, ‘and I ask you, sir, this blessed morning, wasn’t it a mortial sin to turn his father, and three boys as likely as himself, out of the ould country.  Sheep, they wanted, indeed! Christians wouldn’t do ‘em. Well, the Lord had a hand in it, after all, for here they are, all the boys, with their hundred acres apiece; and what do you think, sir – eh, Terrence, my buck! Faith, sir, he’s looking out already. Don’t mind the boys laughing, Terry; you’ll never do it younger. but, sir, there they are, them four fine lads, and every man of them the lord of his own estate. After all, there’s nothing like being a man’s own master.’
 
‘He doesn’t always be that same, Mr. M’Allister, when once he’s married,’ suggested one of the bystanders, with a sly twinkle in his eye.
 
Mr. M’Allister did not seem to have heard the observation; nevertheless he rapidly changed the conversation, and, plunging deep into the politics of Europe, appeared immensely interested in the intentions of the Emperor Napoleon towards the Court of Rome.  Jimmy was in high spirits that sharp morning, influenced not a little by the knowledge that his excellent wife was then enjoying ‘a comfortable snooze in her best feather bed’ at the safe distance of half a dozen miles from where her husband stood, the centre of an admiring circle.  It was not the right occasion for airing a grievance; and, indeed, his pet grievance – the want of the resident clergyman – had been so completely demolished by the assurance publicly given by the Bishop, that it was hopelessly past use.  The temporary delay in establishing the second school in the settlement afforded him both a theme and a consolation; but even of this text for an occasional harangue he was soon to be deprived. Jimmy may now be in search of a grievance; and, when found, it is to be hoped it may not be a very serious one – barely sufficient to afford a gentle provocation to amicable discussion.
 
To my humble self, I must gratefully admit, Mr. M’Allister did the honours of the settlement in a manner at once affable and patronising.  When we took our departure, which was not achieved without vigorous and repeated hand-shakings, and prayers and blessing unnumbered, we were accompanied a couple of miles of the road by the Resident Magistrate of the settlement, who also combined in his own person the additional dignities of Captain of Militia and Councillor of the Parish.  Mr. Cummins was himself one of the settlers, and he recounted with modest pride the story of his early efforts and his daily increasing prosperity.
 
Other Settlements
 
On our return to St. John we met the Post-Master-General – a Scotchman – who had recently paid an official visit to the settlement; and he was loud in the expression of his astonishment at the progress which the people had made in so short a time, and at the unmistakable evidences of comfort he beheld in every direction.
 
The settlement of Johnville is but one of four which Dr. Sweeny established within a recent time. He has thus succeeded in establishing, as settlers, between 700 and 800 families, or, at an average of five persons to each family, between 3,500 and 4,000 individuals. The description given of Johnville would generally apply to the other settlements; the difference, whatever it might be, arising more from the quality of the land than any other cause.

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget
by Shauna Driscoll

 
Spirituality is a subject that affects us all, in one way or another, throughout our entire lives, but there is no time that tests our beliefs more than in the time of war. Of all man’s inventions, this is the creation that forces even the purest of heart and mind to contemplate and question their faith. When faced with the horror that unfolds before them, they can do nothing but wonder what sort of God would allow such nightmares to exist on this beautiful planet.

 
They are not alone in their struggles. Within the ranks, marching side by side, are men and women who have not only given their lives to God, but to helping our service men and women retain the faith they need to make it through just one more day on the battlefield.

 
Little talked about, they are given perhaps the most important task of all – the care of the hearts, minds and souls of soldiers who dedicate their lives to protecting our safety and freedom.

 
“’I’ll give you just three nights in the front line trench before your hair will turn grey.’”(1) So Rev. B.J. Murdoch was told by another priest during his early days in the military of the first World War, and which he recounts in his book "The Red Vineyard", which is then followed by the even less encouraging, “’You’ll not be very long in the army till you’ll wish yourself out of it again.’” (2)

Truer words were probably never spoken, but no matter how discouraging they may have seemed they could not stop the Reverend Murdoch from facing the horrors ahead. He was, if not prepared, then most certainly determined to continue his work despite being faced with such a dour outlook. His strong heart and mind, perhaps bred through his Irish heritage, would not turn away from such a worthy cause. 

Quaint churches, glorious cathedrals, unwavering parishioners were not to be part of his life for quite some time as he joined the ranks of war. Indeed, the main tool of his trade was provided by the military in a small wooden box, which he recalls with a sense of fondness.

 
“After a few days a box about one foot and a half long, one foot high and nine inches wide, arrived. It was made of wood covered with a kind of grey cloth, with strips of black leather about the edges and small pieces of brass at every corner. There was leather grips on it so that it could be carried as a satchel. It was my little portable altar, containing everything necessary for saying Mass. One half opened and stood upright from the part containing the table of the altar, which when opened out was three feet long. Fitted into the oak table was the little marble altar-stone, without which one may not say Mass. In the top of the upright part was a square hole in which the crucifix fitted to stand above the altar; on either side were holders to attach the candlesticks. From the wall that formed a compartment in the upright portion, where the vestments were kept, the altar cards unfolded; these were kept in place by small brass clips attached to the upright. Chalice, ciborium, missal and stand, cruets, wine, altar-breads, bell, linens, etc., were in compartments beneath the altar table. The whole was wonderfully compact and could be carried with one hand."(3)
 
His whole life, his career, packed away in one small box that was able to be carried like a satchel. Looking about myself, taking in my own possessions, gathered with care and love and memories, I can’t imagine having my entire life put together in one small box, and yet Reverend Murdoch and those like him achieved perhaps their greatest feat with such limited resources. 

 
They did not think of all they had left behind, but looked ahead to all that they would gain.

For Reverend Murdoch, it wasn’t about the battlefield or skirmishes. It was about lives, the lives of men he would have seen everyday, and the stories they’d have to tell. Repentance would be the norm from men afraid of what would happen from day to day, hour to hour, and yet he never questioned their motives, or their purpose. He remained an honoured confidante with the strength of character to listen to all these men had to confess, and offer them some form of salvation.
 
One afternoon Reverend Murdoch was approached by a soldier who, in his quiet manner, desperately needed to talk. For hours this soldier poured out his entire life history, stating over and over “’Father, I’ve led an awful life!’”(4) He seemed to feel it was important for Reverend Murdoch to know why he’d turned his back on God, and why he wasn’t deserving of any forgiveness for his sins. After hours of this conversation, when the soldier had apparently exhausted all he’d needed to say, he didn’t meet any form of recrimination or doubt, just an acknowledgement of the words spoken, and an offer to help. “’Yes,’ I said, ‘and now if you will come with me into the confessional and ask God’s pardon from the bottom of your heart for all those sins, I will give you holy absolution.’”(5)

 
It was late evening by the time Reverend Murdoch finished speaking with the solider, offering advice and hope, despite the soldier’s initial thought that he deserved none of it. One small step, to make such a great difference in the life of one man, and in doing the same for one more, and then one more, making a greater difference to all who had contact with him in such a dangerous time.
 
Rev. Raymond Myles Hickey Perhaps Reverend Murdoch thought his war-time counsel would have ended with WWI, but he was most certainly mistaken. Many years later, as Canadian soldiers once again gathered to be sent overseas, he was approached by a former student, the young Reverend R. Myles Hickey (Picture at left).
Reverend Hickey was making his own decisions of whether to go to war or stay home, wrestling with the same questions Reverend Murdoch had had some years before. His mentor offered encouragement, as repeated in Hickey’s book, "The Scarlet Dawn", and truth combined. “’Yes, go Father Raymond; you will make a good chaplain; and if you are killed, well you’ll save your soul.’”(6)

 
Reverend Murdoch’s last words would have shaken the strongest of men, and they did cause Reverend Hickey to realize, perhaps for the first time, that death was a great possibility. It might have made others turn aside from the service, but Reverend Hickey faced those fears and joined the men going to the war. Later, during some of the worst battles, Reverend Murdoch’s words came back to him, and in them Reverend Hickey found the strength to carry on. He might die on those fields so far from home, but in so doing he would save his soul, and perhaps the souls of the men fighting alongside him.

 
Later, when Reverend Hickey had occasion to speak with a Senior Chaplain who describes for him in vivid detail the horrific retreat at Dunkirk, Hickey wished to be back in his home at Jacquet River. His faith almost failed him, leaving him wondering, “My turn will come, and will I have the courage to go through it?”(7)

 
He finds, as the days continue to pass, that he does have the courage. He found the strength in his faith, and the faith of those around him to carry on, day by day, to continue administering to the needs of his men, and even to help them through their own little romances amidst the events that unfolded.

 
One evening Reverend Hickey is approached by a shy, young soldier who reminds him of an offer to write letters for the men who cannot read. Reverend Hickey might be a little surprised when the young man blurts out, “’Could you – could you – could you write a love letter.’”(8), but no matter how unusual the request for a chaplain, Reverend Hickey merely assured the man that he was a master at love letters.

 
A sweet moment during a terrible time; and a moment that came back to Reverend Hickey some four years later. When preparing the day’s dead he comes across a familiar face; the same soldier, who had been so anxious to write his love letter, now being lowered into a narrow grave. As Reverend Hickey whispers his prayer for the young man he recalls the struggle over that letter, the repeated “Dear Mary, Dear Mary,”(9) as the soldier tried to work out what to say to his love back at home. And later as the Reverend writes to her about the death of her husband, the same voice repeating “I love you, I love you as much as…”(10), to which the young man had eventually ended, “…as much as I love the Lord!” (11)

 
We hear so often of the struggles of soldiers, of the heroism on the battlefield. We’re asked to remember the war, in the hopes of learning from our mistakes. We’re taught about the great Generals of our time who led our men and women to victory. And here, almost silently, are a group of military service men who have put aside their comfortable lives and quiet service to God so that they may be beside our soldiers, marching across war-torn countryside, to offer some sense of hope and faith in a time that could easily destroy both.

 
It may be rare to hear their names, or think of their positions, but they remain the silent guardians of all hearts in war. May we remember them, and pray for them, like all those who fought so fearlessly for our great country.

Lest we forget….


Memorial in Capriquet, France

(1) The Red Vineyard – Reverend B. J. Murdoch – Page 12
(2) Ibid.
(3) The Red Vineyard – Reverend B. J. Murdoch – Page 19
(4) The Red Vineyard – Reverend B. J. Murdoch – Page 116
(5) Ibid.
(6) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 12
(7) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R. Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 97
(8) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R. Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 40
(9) Ibid.
(10) The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R. Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page 41
(11) Ibid


Picture (above): Memorial in Carpiquet, France to the soldiers of the North Shore Regiment, 8th Infantry Brigade, Canada
 


Right Rev. Benedict J. Murdoch (1886 – 1973)
 
Born in Chatham, NB on March 21, 1886, son of Robert Murdoch and Mary Allen, Benedict J. Murdoch received his elementary and high school education in Chatham, and his univerity courses at St. Dunstan’s College, Charlottetown, PEI, from which he graduated in 1908. In September of that year, he entered the Grand Seminary in Quebec and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Barry on June 29, 1911.

 
Except for a few months spent in the Redemptorist Novitiate in Ilchester near Baltimore, Maryland, USA, in 1914, Father Murdoch’s early years in priesthood were given to the pastoral ministry in New Brunswick: in Balmoral, Charlo, Dundee and Newcastle. During World War I, in 1915, he enlisted as chaplain to the 132nd North Shore Battalion; and from then until the end of the war he served as chaplain with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France, Germany and Belgium. From these harrowing years came the warp and weft of the material he presents in his best-known book, "The Red Vineyard." Here, he relives for his readers the experiences of those war years which, when it was all over, demanded an exacting toil from his human resources, as he recounts in a later autobiography, "Part Way Through."

 
In his book about his WWI experiences, "The Red Vineyard", Father Murdoch provided this dedication:
 
"To the memory of all those men
With whom I walked up and down
The ways of The Red Vineyard;
But especially to the memory of those
Who stopped in the journey, and now
Rest softly in their little green bivouacs
In the shadow of the small white crosses,
This book is affectionately dedicated by their
Friend and Comrade"


Returning home from the war, he served as pastor at Jacquet River (1919 – 1921) and at Douglastown (1921 – 1930). By then, the ill effects of his years in military service were definitely manifesting themselves, so that he was forced to give up his pastoral duties and accept a prolonged period of rest. In 1932, he retired from active full-time participation in the ministry and spent several years at Bartibogue, where he produced most of his novels and meditative writings by which he has been recognized as one of the leading prose stylists of Canada. His tenth and last book, "Facing Into The Wind", arrived from the press on the very day of his death – the final visible achievement of this priest – soldier who has been described by one of his comrades-in-arms as "one of the very best".

 
In 1971, on the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination, Father Murdoch received from Pope Paul VI the special honour and title of "Honorary Prelate to His Holiness", a fitting recognition of his richly beautiful giving to the People of God during so many years. The last three years of his life were spent at Mount St. Joseph. He died at Hotel-Dieu Hospital on Wednesday evening, January 31, 1973.

 
Msgr. R. M. Hickey (Maj.) MC
 
Born in Jacquet River, NB, Raymond Myles Hickey attended the local school; St. Thomas University, Chatham; and Holy Heart Seminary, Halifax, NS.
 
After ordination in 1933, he did ministry in Bathurst, Campbellton, and Chatham, NB. For three years prior to the war, he was on the faculty of St. Thomas University.
 
His six years as Army Chaplain were a great experience. He won the Military Cross on D-Day at St. Aubin, France, and was invested by the late King George VI at Buckingham Palace on July 5, 1945. In 1956, he was made a Domestic Prelate with the title of Monsignor. In 1976, his Alma Mater conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.
 
He is author of three books, “Scarlet Dawn,” “My Hobbies Three”, and “D-Day Memories.” He also collaborated with the Reader’s Digest in the three-volume “Canadians at War.” 
 
In his book "Scarlet Dawn" Monsignor Hickey penned the following dedication:
 
"To all in the Army, Navy and Air Force who went out to meet the “Scarlet Dawn”, but especially to those for whom that Dawn was the Evening of their life, this book is dedicated."
 
 
Msgr. Hickey in France at 35th anniversary of D-Day"In 1979, Msgr. Hickey was chosen to attend the Ceremonies for the 35th Anniversary of D.Day in Normandy, France. On June 6, 1979, in the Beny-sur-mer Military Cemetery, where 2,400 Canadian Soldiers lie buried, Msgr. Hickey, speaking to the large crowd in French and English, ended his speech as follows:

"My dear friends, my dear confreres, my dear compatriots: 

The prayer that I am going to say with you here this morning is the same prayer that I said here so often – oh, so often – 35 years ago. 

You, too, from experience, know this prayer.

 

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them; we will remember them."
I thank you for the honour of saying this prayer here this morning. Without a doubt, it is for the last time."(1)
 
In September, 1987, Father Hickey returned to France to take part in the unveiling of a monument to the men of the North Shore Regiment who died at Carpiquet on July 4, 1944. It was during this visit that Msgr. Hickey retired to his room for the night and quietly passed away in his sleep. As he so often prayed for others – he will be remembered.
 

(1)The Scarlet Dawn – Reverend R Myles Hickey, UNIPRESS, Fredericton, N.B. – Page xxxi
 
 


Links to other sites and stories about Chaplains BJ Murdoch and RM Hickey, and the war-time Chaplaincy in general:

In the Day of Battle:  Canadian Catholic Chaplains in the Field,1885-1945 by Duff Crerar (CCHA, Historical Studies, 61 (1995), 53-77)
The Scarlet Dawn by by Melynda Jarratt, Webmaster, www.CanadianWarBrides.com – a brief biography of Msgr. RM Hickey
D-Day: Canadian troops land in Normandy as part of the largest invasion in history (A CBC "Canada – A People’s History" production)
An article on Capriquet and D-Day from Esprit de Corps magazine on-line 
The Normandy Campaign from the Juno Beach Centre
 
 
 


In addition to the two books mentioned above (The Red Vineyard by Rev. BJ Murdoch and The Scarlet Dawn by Msgr. RM Hickey), another book of interest about war-time Irish New Brunswickers is "North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment" by Will R. Bird, Brunswick Press 1963. Please check with your local library or book store for availability of these books as one or more of them may no longer be in print.

Irish Christmas Traditions

Irish Christmas Traditions

The ICCANB would like to offer all the best of this wonderful time of the year to you and your families! On this page we have included a few of the popular Irish sayings for this time of the year and attempted to give one variation of pronunciation to guide you. We have also listed several websites that offer a glimpse into the most popular Irish Christmas Traditions. May you and yours be blessed with all the joy, peace and goodwill of the season!

PHRASE:                               Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi mhaise duit!
PRONOUNCED:                   Nullig fwee yan iss fwee mway/shih dwit
MEANING:                            A prosperous and enjoyable Christmas!

PHRASE:                               Nollaig Shona duit!
PRONOUNCED:                   Nullig hunna dwit
MEANING:                            Happy Christmas to you!

PHRASE:                               Athblian Shona duit!
PRONOUNCED:                   ought/bleen hunna dwit
MEANING:                            Happy New Year to you!

Irish Chirstmas Traditions Websites

(Note: These sites are not under the control of the ICCANB and may contain advertizing and/or pop-ups)

Christmas in Ireland – from the Christmas Archives
An Irish Christmas – from irishabroad.com
Christmas in Ireland – from Santas.net
Irish Christmas Traditions
Irish Christmas Customs (includes a recipe for Christmas Cake)
Irish Christmas Traditions (from ClassBrain.com)
Irish Christmas Traditions – by Michael Green of the Irish Newsletter
How to Celebrate an Irish Christmas

So……Happy Christmas to all!!!!
(And don’t forget to e-mail us your own Christmas memories!!)

Profile – Eva Steele

 
Profile 
of a 
Special Irish Lass 
– – Eva Steele–

A diminutive five feet tall, weighing less than 100 lbs, Eva Steele embodies all that is Irish with her sparkling blue eyes that will either embrace you or dismiss you in a flash of pure Irish honesty.  Born in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland in what she would coyly admit was some time during our last century, Eva was the only daughter, 2nd eldest in a sea of five sons born to James and Violet (ni Capon) Lynch.  Her father was a member of the Irish constabulary.
Eva dancing at the Hampton Coffee House
A resident of Saint John since December 13th 1946 when she arrived in Canada as a young war bride on The Empire Brent, (which docked at Pier 1, Halifax) Eva still retains that soft Irish brogue from her home town. Soon after settling in Saint John with husband, John H Steele, Eva resumed her career in nursing, first in private duty, then at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Saint John and finally at the Saint John Regional Hospital until her retirement. Eva is the proud mother of two; her son Robert (Nicole) Steele (currently of Fredericton) and daughter Joyce (Dave) O’Hanlon (of Australia). 

 

Picture (R): Eva dancing at the Hampton Coffee House.

Eva in the thick of Irish celebrations!Throughout it all, Eva’s boundless energy was evident as she made her mark in her adopted homeland, amazing all with her enviable ability to work tirelessly for a good cause and to charm all those around her while she was at it. Not one to sit quietly in the background, Eva became a well-recognized fixture of the Saint John community, entertaining everyone with her Irish dancing, singing, acting, poetry recitations and endless capacity for good old Irish fun! Her recitation “Ode to Dr. Collins,” a poem about a young Saint John Doctor who gave his life helping the sick on Partridge Island in 1847, resounds with the lilt of the Irish land and you can still hear the ring of the hills of Clare in her voice. To this day, if there is an Irish activity underway, you’ll find Eva in the thick of it!!

Eva was a founding member of the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick and has worked tirelessly for the advancement of Irish culture and heritage in this province ever since. A remarkable and determined worker, she was responsible for single-handedly obtaining over 3,000 signatures to have Partridge Island protected as a historical site.

It would never be a surprise for the phone to ring at 8:30 a.m. “Hello, it’s Eva. I’ve just sold a full Eva with Farrell McCarthy, Editor of the ICCANB newsletter magazine, The Shamrock Leaf.page advertisement for the Shamrock Leaf.” By this time this youthful senior would already be at work in her “office” having finishing her breakfast of four slices of bacon, a grilled tomato, some scrambled egg and a slice of whole wheat toast, a good hearty breakfast for a deceivingly hearty individual! Picture (R): Eva with Farrell McCarthy, Editor of the ICCANB newsletter magazine, The Shamrock Leaf.

As much as Eva is consumed with energy when it comes to promoting Irish history and culture, she is also consumed with the love of friends and family. She makes frequent trips to Ireland, visiting her one remaining brother, Bill Lynch in Malon, County Donegal, and the rest of her extended family, and has made the trip to Australia five times to visit her daughter and family.

Fiercely independent, Eva insists she could make these trips on her own but her son, Robert, accompanied her on her most recent trip to Ireland just "so she could keep an eye on him!". It’s this Irish humour, combined with her small stature, boundless energy and mischievous glint in her eye that makes Robert think his mother may very well be of Leprechaun stock!

Eva with ICCANB members Mary May, Donna Blanchard and Helena Hook at the Saint John Arts CentrePicture (L): Eva with ICCANB members Mary May, Donna Blanchard and Helena Hook at the Saint John Arts Centre.

In addition to her extended family and her 4 grandchildren, Michelle & Jason Steele, Deirdre (O’Hanlon)(Joe) Quinn and James (Ceri Forbes) O’Hanlon, and three great-grandsons, Declan Quinn, Callum and Bailey O’Hanlon, Eva has no difficulty keeping track of years’ worth of friends and acquaintances from around the globe. She’ll regale you with stories of who is married to whom, who has recently welcomed a new addition to their family, who has fallen ill and who is on the mend, all the time weaving in history lessons and tidbits of general interest. Her amazing memory and capacity for capturing details, and then retelling them in the most entertaining way, may be attributed to the social skills she developed during her nursing career but are just as likely to stem from the very makeup of this extraordinary Irish lass.

Recognition for Eva’s Efforts

Throughout her active life, Eva has accumulated many volunteer hours and has been deservedly honoured for her efforts. She was at the inaugural meeting of the I.C.C.A.N.B. held at St. Malachy`s High School in 1984 and has been on the Board of Directors ever since. She has also served on the Provincial Board for over twenty years and is a well known face in the ticket booth at the Miramichi Irish Festival.

In March of 2003, Eva was presented with a framed certificate which read:

“In appreciation of faithful and dedicated service, and as a token of esteem and affection, A Lifetime Membership Award is presented to Eva Steele, by the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick, Saint John Chapter.”
In March of 2005, she was named Honorary Chairperson of St. Patrick’s Week in Saint John and presented with a plaque which read:
"In Recognition and Appreciation to Eva Steele, Honorary Chairperson, St. Patrick’s Week, March 12 2005".
 “I’m delighted. She really is a treasure,” commented past President Dr. Danny Britt when told that Eva Steele was selected to be the Honorary Chair of the 2005 celebrations.

Eva as "Queen Aoife" 

Eva presiding as Queen Aoife

Dubbed “Queen of the Irish” by the group Men and Music, Eva has earned this title through her countless contributions to the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of Saint John. In recent years she has dressed up in her long green velvet gown and golden crown to preside as “Queen Aoife” of Tir Na N’Og (The Land of Youth) for the St. Patrick’s Week children’s ‘Wearing of the Green’ held in Brunswick Square.

Eva, the Performer

Eva with film director Daniel McCarthyAlways willing to perform, Eva was delighted when, as soon as movie director Daniel McCarthy laid eyes on her, he knew that she was perfect for a role in his movie “Irish Eyes” (released as “Vendetta – no justice, no mercy”) which starred Daniel Baldwin. No stranger to the stage, Eva danced her Irish hornpipe and recited poetry at the Imperial Theatre on numerous occasions. You will usually find her at the Annual Benefit Breakfast at O’Leary’s Pub in Saint John, in aid of the Belfast Children’s Vacation, with her dancing shoes at the ready. She was on the Entertainment Committee for the arrival of the 3 masted sailing ship, "The Jeanie Johnston" when it arrived in Saint John from Tralee, Ireland. Picture (L): Eva with film director Daniel McCarthy 

Eva is also an active member of Comhaltas, a worldwide organization that promotes the music, song, dance and language of Ireland, and has fundraised and organized many of their Christmas parties and events in Saint John.

Eva and Famous People:

 
Never far from a camera lens, Eva has been photographed with Frank McKenna; Former Mayor, Shirley McAlary; Former MP Elsie Wayne; Monsignor Sheehan; President of Ireland, Mary McAleese; Irish Tenor, Frank Patterson; Film Director, Daniel McCarthy, Fiddle champion, Seamus Connolly of Boston and many more!! She is the darling of all!
 
Pictures: Eva with:( L-R, Top to bottom) Frank McKenna; Aide to the President of Ireland; Monsignor Sheehan; Elsie Wayne, former Mayor of Saint John; fiddle champion Seamus Connolly.
Eva with Frank McKenna Eva with Aide to President of ireland Eva with Monsignor Sheehan
Eva with Elsie Wayne Eva with Seamus Connelly  
The ICCANB feels honoured to have had such a long association with this great and inspiring lady and wishes Eva many more years in which to regale us with her quick wit, enthusiastic performances, and just the wee bit of helpful "advice" when we start to go astray!

Best wishes now and always, Eva, from all your family, friends, and general admirers.

Author & entertainer, Mary Grannan

Mary Grannan

Author & entertainer, Mary GrannanMemories of Mary
Reminiscences of a Special Lady
by Marilyn Driscoll

 

Born February 11, 1900, Mary Grannan was the middle daughter of William Peter Grannan and Catherine Haney.  Growing up in the Fredericton area, Mary and her sisters Ann and Helen eventually settled with their parents at their home on Brunswick street, which still stands today.  As an adult Mary began her career as a teacher in Minto and Devon schools where she was able to satisfy her love of children and of telling stories to great advantage.  Mary’s maternal Grandmother, still with the Irish brogue of her homeland, and Mary’s mother Catherine were very influential in developing the Irish charm and intelligence that Mary demonstrated in abundance.

Mary – the Teacher
The Grannan home on Brunswick Street in Fredericton
Having inherited the quick wit and insatiable curiousity of her Irish ancestors, Mary was always fascinated with everything going on around her, able to turn the most mundane of incidences into entertaining, humourous stories with which to regale her friends, family and students. Never having married, while teaching in Devon Mary lived in the family home on Brunswick Street and made her way each day, usually on foot, across the old Carleton Street bridge to her school. It would have been easier had she secured a position on the South side of the river, closer to home but Mary was living in a time not quite as tolerant as today, and she was an Irish Catholic. Some things were just understood. (Pictured at right is the Grannan home on Brunswick Street in Fredericton)

No matter, Mary excelled at anything she put her mind to and during these years she added to her growing collection of stories. Gaining noteriety with her students and their parents for her entertaining teaching style and her love of storytelling, in 1935 Mary was approached by CFNB radio station in Fredericton to start telling her stories over the airwaves. Titled "Just Mary" and "Maggie Muggins", as were her first children’s books, Mary’s stories were an instant hit with the children within the CFNB listening audience.

Mary – the Entertainer

Plaque installed on the Grannan home.Mary got her "big break" when the producer of her show at CFNB persuaded an executive from CBC Radio to review her work. CBC followed up with an offer of their own: to come to Toronto to head the children’s programming for CBC and to star in a national CBC Radio children’s show. As much as Mary loved New Brunswick, the City of Fredericton, and her family, Toronto was a fascinating lure to this young woman who enjoyed lots of action around her. She loved the Theatre, books, movies, and all the people associated with them. Toronto was indeed an irresistable draw, allowing her not only the means to bring her stories to a much broader audience but also to rub shoulders with many notables of the industry at that time.

Her new career also provided the opportunity for world travel, public appearances and speaking engagements. ‘Just Mary’ had become a recognized name and a much-respected member of "the arts". In 1954, the wonderful stories made their debut in the quickly growing world of television. Now Mary’s characters became household fixtures as viewers, young and old alike, were enthralled by the antics of their favourites like Maggie Muggins and Mr. Magarrity coming to life before their very eyes. Eastern Canadians were most familiar with Maggie Muggins and all of her adventures but across the country other viewers were held captive by productions such as "Jubilee Road", and "The Land of Supposing". Mary continued to work for CBC, both in Radio and later in television, until her retirement in 1962, when she returned to her home in Fredericton and began the next phase of her life. By this time Mary had published 30 children’s books and written more than four thousand scripts for children’s entertainment.

Mary – a Friend’s Reminiscences

"Mary had the most wonderful smile. When she smiled at you, which was often, it was like the sun had suddenly burst out in the room. And her laugh! Oh, that wonderful laugh! It seemed to come from the bottom of her soul and was so infectious that it made everyone around her laugh too." recalls long-time friend of the Grannan sisters, Don Roberts. Mary’s father and Don’s grandfather were both firemen in the city so Don had known the Grannan family for his whole life. However, with Mary being in her late twenties the year that Don was born, it was not until her return to Fredericton after her retirement that he really became an integral cog in the machinery of the Grannan household. Don Roberts on his own radio show.

Don worked as a buyer for many years at McElmans Variety Store and when Mary first returned from Toronto she would stop in frequently to pick up the latest magazines and newspapers that would keep her connected to the "goings on" in the entertainment world that she missed so much. She and Don had many conversations in the store and, recognizing a person who shared her wide and worldly interests, Mary asked Don if, instead of her coming in every day for the papers and magazines, he could drop them off to her on the way home from work each day and she would pay him for them when he arrived. Don replied that he would be pleased to do this for her. And so it began.

"I dropped into the house every evening on my way home and the "girls" would always have supper waiting for me. I bet I ate my supper meal there 362 days of the year every year after that. I’m not sure what my poor mother thought of eating supper alone every night while I passed time with the Grannan girls, but she never complained of it. Why, some evenings, if I was feeling a little guilty about it, I would try to sneak past the house but always there was one of the sisters rapping at the window and gesturing for me to come in.", Don laughingly relates as he takes a walk down memory lane.

"Mary was fascinated by such a broad range of topics, from old silent film stars to books and authors to circus entertainers. Nothing the least bit sensational or interesting was missed by her keen mind" says Don. In the evenings they would sit by the hour in the sunroom of the house, the three sisters and Don, each on a sofa as if they were "adrift on their own little boats", as Helen Grannan would often remark, and they would play brain teasers, each trying to stump the other. The questions varied and ran the gamut of all of the things that Mary was interested in, which provided an abundance of material from which to draw their questions. By this time Don had been "adopted" by the sisters and treated like a son they never had the opportunity to have, none of the girls having married. Mary was always well-prepared for "question time" and would often reward Don with "prizes" for a correct answer.  Her prizes were items she had gathered in her many travels and during her life in Toronto, mementos of the incredibly interesting life she had led. Sometimes it would be a favourite book.  Other times it might be an intricately decorated glass and silver bowl, or an old crystal ink well.  With the house being chock-full of beautiful things, lovingly collected, there was no end to her list of things to choose from.  Don, in his turn, would spend the days thinking very hard about questions he might be able to stump the women with.  He rarely could do so, given the sharp minds and voracious reading habits of all three Grannan sisters.  He would frequently bring things they liked the most, usually imported chocolates or something of the like, to give as prizes for answering his questions correctly.  "The last thing they needed was more "stuff" to put on a shelf" he mused.  "It was a wonderful way to keep the mind sharp.  You never knew what topic Mary’s quizzes would be drawn from so you had to be well-prepared" laughs Don as he reminisces.

His close friendship with the Grannans brought him into contact with many famous people as well as he would be invited to parties at Mary’s house.  He developed a close friendship with J. Frank Willis, also of CBC fame, and his wife Gladys and would often visit them when he was in Toronto. Later, after Frank’s passing, Don and his wife Joan remained good friends with Gladys until her passing.

Don remembers, as if it were yesterday, the day in 1975 when the phone rang at work and the voice told him to come quickly, one of the Grannan sisters had died. His heart leapt to his throat as he replied "Which one?". "Mary." was the answer.  Don recalls standing in shock, receiver still in his hand, his worried staff around him saying "Don, are you okay?  What’s wrong, Don?"  He dropped the phone and ran from the store, all the way to Brunswick Street where he wrapped his arms around a grieving Helen and assured her he would be there to help her through everything.  "I was devestated" said Don, "but I knew I had to keep myself under control to help Helen deal with all of the details now facing her".  News quickly spread around Fredericton and indeed was picked up by CBC and related to the whole country.  Mary had died suddenly, going upstairs to her room after lunch for a quick nap as she said she was feeling a little tired.  She sat on the edge of her bed, then fell back and it was over.  It was the way she would have wished it – going while her mind was as sharp as ever, her famous wit and vivacious personality still in top form.  She was just a few weeks shy of her 75th birthday.


While few remain who knew Mary personally, the image of this wonderfully creative woman lives on in the hearts of all those who, as children, crowded around the radio on Sunday, or brought Maggie Muggins into their living room through their new television screens. Mary will always be remembered wearing a stylish hat, large earrings, her silver cuff bracelets, and her enormous smile.

The year 2006 finally witnessed something that has been missing all these years: the publication of a definitive biography of Fredericton’s famous children’s entertainer as well as a compilation of several of her "Just Mary" stories. Halifax-born author, Margaret Hume, launched her Mary Grannan biography on the anniversary of Mary’s birthday, February 11th, in the city where Mary, and "Maggie Muggins" were born. So, with great respect and the sincere hope that one day we’ll once again be able to purchase beautifully bound books of all the wonderful tales created by this imaginative lady, we end this journey into the "Land of Supposing" with the words of the irrepressible Maggie: "I wonder what will happen tomorrow!"

Beltaine

Beltaine
From Winter Dreams Come the Fires of Spring

Compiled by Bruce Driscoll

 

Spring comes with promise and growth, bringing life and warmth to the grays and browns of left-over winter. If, as T. S. Eliot wrote in The Wasteland, “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land,” then surely May is the month of renewal and joy. The ancient Celts celebrated the turning of the year as a great wheel, and the earth as the womb of life. Their beliefs were lunar focused as opposed to later groups who were solar focused.

They believed that everything was conceived in darkness and then brought into the light and this belief provided a common flow across all of their traditions and rituals. Just as babies are conceived in darkness and seeds are sown beneath the earth, the Celtic day started with darkness and moved into the light. Therefore, the Celtic day began at sundown and moved into the light. So did their concept of the year.

The year was divided into the “dark months” and the “light months”. It started in the dark months with Samhain at sundown on October 31st. While there were specific rituals and traditions associated with the solstices and equinoxes, the principle festivals were centred around the four fire festivals of the year. Of these, Samhain and Beltaine were considered the most important.

November 1st – Samhain – the beginning of the new year;
February 1st – Imbolg or Imbolc, represents the beginning of Spring . It means "in the belly" and signifies an end to the dark, hungry days of winter;
May 1st – Beltaine – The stirrings of life heard at Imbolg have matured into the vibrant song of summer;
August 1st – Lughnasadh – the first day of autumn and the beginning of the harvest.

The Return of the Sun…

Beltaine (pronounced bel-TEN-ya or bel-CHEN-ya) is an anglicization of the Irish "Bealtaine" or the Scottish "Bealtuinn." While "tene" clearly means "fire," nobody really knows whether Bel refers to Belenus, a pastoral god of the Gauls, or is from "bel," simply meaning "brilliant." It might even derive from "bil tene" or "lucky fire" because to jump between two Beltane fires was sure to bring good fortune, health to your livestock, and prosperity.

Preparing the Beltaine Fire

When the Druids and their successors raised the Beltaine fires on hilltops throughout the British Isles on May Eve, they were performing a real act of magic, for the fires were lit in order to bring the sun’s light down to earth. In Scotland, every fire in the household was extinguished, and the great fires were lit from the need-fire which was kindled by 3 times 3 men using wood from the nine sacred trees. When the wood burst into flames, it proclaimed the triumph of the light over the dark half of the year.
 

Having doused their hearth fires at sundown on April 30th, all Celtic households would thread their way up the hillsides, driving their livestock and pets before them, to reach the location of the twin holy fires burning brightly. These twin fires represented the eyes of the Goddess as she returned from her long winter sleep and beheld her subjects before her and her lands spread far and wide, awakening from the long dark months.
 
One by one the livestock were walked through the path between the two “eyes” where the Goddess could look favourably upon them, thereby cleansing them of all the impurities laid upon them in the darkness, and ensure their health for the upcoming year. After the livestock, then the people would follow, each receiving their blessings in turn.

Smudging takes place as participants enter the circle.

 
Then the whole hillside came alive as people thrust brands into the newly roaring flames and whirled them about their heads in imitation of the circling of the sun. If any man there was planning a long journey or dangerous undertaking, he leaped backwards and forwards three times through the fire for luck. As the fire sunk low, the girls jumped across it to procure good husbands; pregnant women stepped through it to ensure an easy birth, and children were also carried across the smoldering ashes. When the fire died down, the embers were thrown among the sprouting crops to protect them, while each household carried some back to kindle a new fire in their hearth which would burn continuously from that point until the next May Eve. When the sun rose that dawn, those who had stayed up to watch it might see it whirl three times upon the horizon before leaping up in all its summer glory.
 
There are other associations with May 1st in Celtic mythology. According to the ancient Irish ‘Book of Invasions’, the first settler of Ireland, Partholan, arrived on May 1st; and it was on May 1st that the plague came which destroyed his people. Years later, the Tuatha De Danann were conquered by the Milesians on May Day. In Welsh myth, the perennial battle between Gwythur and Gwyn for the love of Creudylad took place each May Day; and it was on May Eve that Teirnyon lost his colts and found Pryderi. May Eve was also the occasion of a fearful scream that was heard each year throughout Wales, one of the three curses of the Coranians lifted by the skill of Lludd and Llevelys.

 

 
The Rites of Spring…
 
The Queen of May and Jack, the Green Man, rest after overseeing the celebrations.Beltaine was a time of fertility and unbridled merrymaking, when young and old would spend the night making love in the Greenwood. In the morning, they would return to the village bearing huge budding boughs of hawthorn (the may-tree) and other spring flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families, and their houses. They would proceed back home, stopping at each house to leave flowers, and enjoy the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. In every village, the maypole—usually a birch or ash pole—was raised, and dancing and feasting began. Festivities were led by the May Queen and her consort, the King who was sometimes Jack-in-the-Green, or the Green Man, the old god of the wildwood. They were borne in state through the village in a cart covered with flowers and enthroned in a leafy arbour as the divine couple whose unity symbolized the sacred marriage of earth and sun.
 
 
These wildwood antics have inspired writers such as Kipling:

 

“Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!”
 
The plaiting of the May Pole
And for most, May 1st is that great holiday of flowers, Maypoles, and greenwood frivolity. It is no wonder that, as recently as 1977, Ian Anderson could pen the following lyrics for his art-rock band Jethro Tull:

”For the May Day is the great day,
Sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did ley

Will heed this song that calls them back.” 

                                                                               The plaiting of the May Pole

Modern-day Beltaine Suggestions…

Arise at dawn and wash in the morning dew: the woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful; the man who washes his hands will be skilled with knots and nets.

If you live near water, make a garland or tussey mussey (posey) of spring flowers and cast it into stream, lake or river to bless the water spirits.

Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill, then give it to one in need of caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend.

Beltaine is one of the three "spirit-nights" of the year when the faeries can be seen. At dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through it, and you may see them looking back at you!

Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck. Be careful of the flame!
Make a May bowl — a wine or punch in which the flowers of sweet woodruff or other fragrant blossoms are soaked—and drink with the one you love.

The dreams and hopes of the ancient ones were captured in the celebrations of Beltaine, and their rites of passage and fecundity have echoed down the centuries to blossom in those of us with Celtic blood and Celtic hearts. We would do well to embrace and cherish the renewal of life that Spring brings to our spirits as we shake off the chill of Winter’s passage, and rejoice once more with the fires in our souls.

Conservation staff at the CMC examining the canoe. Photo by Steven Darby, CMC

Maliseet Canoe

Jennifer Ditchburn
Canadian Press
Published Wednesday May 23rd, 2007
Appeared on page A1

Maliseet Canoe Connects New Brunswick and Ireland

Conservation staff at the CMC examining the canoe. Photo by Steven Darby, CMCA majestic birch-bark canoe has glided its way back to Canada after nearly 200 years, helping to tell not only the story of aboriginal ingenuity but also of a Schindler-like hero of the Irish famine.

 

The Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) put the weathered, six-metre long canoe on display Tuesday for the first time. The public can watch conservators busily trying to restore it over the course of the summer, before it is shipped back to its current owners at the National University of Ireland in Galway.

The watercraft could be the oldest of its kind in the world, the work of Maliseet craftsmen living near Fredericton in the early days of the British colony.

Photo: Dr. Kathryn Moore, National University of ireland, GalwayBecause it was hung high above a damp stairwell in the Irish university’s museum for so many years, the birch bark, cedar ribs and spruce roots that keep it together remained moist and intact. Up close, you can still see the delicate lines of the birch tree’s bark. Others of its vintage would have disintegrated long ago.

Dr. Kathryn Moore, a geologist from Ireland’s national university, made it her personal mission over the past several years to piece together the life of the vessel spanning centuries. She sought out head conservator Paul Lauzon from the Canadian museum to check out the canoe in 2003, and under his guidance it was brought back to Canada early this year.

The stories that have sprung up from the canoe are the stuff of good historical TV dramas.

The Maliseet built the unusually long canoe in the early 1820s, perhaps for a figure of importance such as New Brunswick Governor Sir Howard Douglas. It was likely used to cruise up and down the St. John River, transporting furs or perhaps arms.

Shortly thereafter, a wealthy Irish landowner arrived in the region for a short stint as captain with the British army regiment stationed in the colony. Stepney St. George, of County Galway, was there long enough to witness the devastating fires that spread between Miramichi and Fredericton in 1825, and to help Sir Douglas with the relief efforts for the estimated 15,000 homeless settlers.

Before leaving, he acquired the canoe – whether he bought it from a person of stature such as Douglas or bought it directly from the Maliseet is unclear. He had it, and two other canoes, shipped home to his family’s historic home, Headford Castle, where Moore believes it was actually used on local waterways.

Two decades later, the Irish countryside where St. George lived would be utterly transformed by famine. While other wealthy landowners turned a blind eye to the plight of the poor, St. George became chairman of a relief committee, bankrupting his ancestral estate by opening soup kitchens on the property and housing those on the brink of starvation. He wrote letters to the British government, vainly asking for help to save more from dying.

"It may well be that Stepney St. George’s experiences in New Brunswick in 1825 may well have informed his approach to tackling the tragedy that happened in 1847 in Ireland," Moore said. "There are real parallels and links that I have suspected there but I have yet to prove."
Photo: Dr. Kathryn Moore (NUIG)
St. George contracted a famine-related disease and died in 1847. Headford Castle was leased by a new tenant, who promptly evicted the poor from the grounds and the canoe, which was given to the university in 1852. It moved around the university through times of upheaval, such as the war of independence, and finally in 2001 was given a closer look. Moore and others noticed it had begun to fall apart, with the help of bugs and nesting pigeons, and wanted to save it. They contacted the Canadian museum for help.

"It’s a symbol of Irish history, it’s a fantastic story," she said.

Stephen Augustine, Curator of Ethnology, Eastern Maritimes, CMC. Photo: Steven Darby, CMCFor Canadian curator Stephen Augustine, the canoe tells another tale – that of aboriginal technical prowess. Augustine, himself a Mi’kmaq hereditary chief from New Brunswick, marvels at how the methods of constructing the canoe stood the test of time.

"It has endured 200 years and this technology and indigenous science attest to how well the indigenous thinking has survived. The idea of it endures, and that’s one of the more poignant aspects for me."

Rebecca Bunch, Conservator and Paul Lauzon, Head Conservator, CMC Photo: Steven Darby, CMC
Restoring the canoe has several challenges, including finding just the right birchbark from New Brunswick to help patch some of the rougher spots. Once the project is finished, the canoe will be shipped back to Ireland where Moore intends to have it exhibited.

Said Moore: "It means so much to local Irish history and Irish-Canadian relations at this point and time, it’s very important for us to have Irish people see and appreciate it."

Irish Luxury NB Resort

Irish firm touts luxury N.B. resort
By Nina Chiarelli
Times & Transcript Staff
Published Thursday April 5th, 2007
Appeared on page A1

It’s being billed as the quintessential New Brunswick resort, surrounded by ecologically pristine lands where nature is the designer and time is the architect.

Plans for the resort, to be located near Elgin just east of Sussex, include a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, a 150,000-square foot conference centre, a sports village that will host tennis, golf, soccer and swimming clinics, a breathtaking clubhouse with a fine dining restaurant, an on-site crèche for parents who want to make sure their kids are tended to, and two styles of homes for rent or purchase, according to brochures advertising the resort.

The only problem is Ann Collins, of Ann Collins Property Ltd. in Meath Country, Ireland is selling a concept to investors that doesn’t yet seem to have teeth.

The land this Quintessential resort, as it’s being billed, would be placed on isn’t owned by the developer.

In fact, the Dept. of Natural Resources has turned down the company several times in its bid to trade small parcels of land for a swath of 2,800 acres of Crown land.

And a local landowner Don Steeves who, with his brother owns 400 acres surrounded by the Crown land, isn’t selling.

"I have no intentions of selling because it was handed down for several generations and it means more to me than any development," Steeves said, adding his land will be divided between his four sons when he dies.

Steeves said he was told by the developers’ local agents that his property is key to the whole development, since its lush covering of old growth trees is practically void of rocky terrain, and it would be perfect for a golf course.

"That’s one reason they want it so bad. It’s easy to doze. It’s easy to develop, to put a road in. It’s a fantastic woodlot, really," he said.

Still, Ann Collins, of Ann Collins Property Limited in Meath County, Ireland is selling the concept to investors overseas.

"The Irish are buying property all over the world, and there’s so much going on with this resort," she said, from Ireland on Tuesday.

Collins described the planned resort as a typical holiday home, idea for Irish retirees.

The Province of New Brunswick itself wasn’t able to offer much information on the project even though several websites set up by the developers and by Collins’ real estate company would have investors believe the project is much father along.

Collins herself said construction could begin in as little as three weeks.

However, the Dept. of Environment said no permits have been issued and no applications filed in respect to building anything of the sort near Elgin.

Apparently three years ago this company was sniffing around and interested in this project," said spokesman Mike Wesson.

"Since then they’ve not made any further approaches to government. They haven’t formally applied for any environmental impact assessments and there are no permit applications in progress."

Business New Brunswick referred calls to Tourism New Brunswick. Since the proposal is private, and involves no government money, Tourism spokeswoman Danielle McFarlane said she could not speak to the project either.

"It’s a private sector development," she said. "I can’t confirm anything."

When contacted again, Business New Brunswick spokeswoman Sarah Ketcheson said her department has worked only to field basic inquiries by the company.

"They have not, however, come to us with any business plan, or any project. They have not made an official request," she said.

Frank Tenhave, executive director of Enterprise Fundy, an arm’s length government agency working on the project, was even less forthcoming.

"The details – I’m not at liberty to give you at this time. There will be an official announcement coming in the very near future," he said.

Although Tenhave works for an agency that is funded by taxpayer dollars, he refused any and all questions about the plan or land in question, and abruptly hung up on the Times & Transcript.

He was, notably, referred to by name as someone who could speak on the project by officials from two of New Brunswick’s provincial departments.

Extensive articles have been written in the Irish press about plans by the developer, Silver Maple Developments, to turn a huge swath of New Brunswick’s countryside into a world-class destination for well-to-do foreign retirees.

The e-brochure touting the project includes architectural drawings of the luxury three- and four-bedroom homes that will be available for rent or purchase on site.

Each home will feature a large deck with integrated hot tub, a double-height sitting room, and a master bedroom with a custom-designed wardrobe, ensuite shower room, and Jacuzzi-type bath.

The brains behind the venture, Saint John native Sheree King Gillchrist and her Irish partner Declan Campbell could not be reached for comment. Their New Brunswick solicitor, Allison Gerrish, listed by Business New Brunswick as a director of the company, also declined comment.
Donald Arsenault, Minister of Natural Resources, said it’s up to his department to accept any land trade.

"What we’re looking for, what we want to find is land that is of equal value or greater value," he said.

"They’ve come to our department with a couple of pieces of land that they are proposing. On many occasions we have refused."

Arsenault said the exchange has been ongoing for several months, to no avail.

"Not one has been satisfactory or to our liking so far," he said.

The brochure selling the resort showcases the best of New Brunswick’s tourism offerings, landscape, seasonal activities and regional amenities, while also showing pictures of polar bears and mentions of hot springs, of which there are none in Albert County.

"Quintessential will cater for families, couples, golf/sport enthusiasts, business groups and many more," the brochure says.

"Research into this project has been ongoing for the past four years. The developers have already expended a lot of resources to date on research, marketing and planning. Sheree and Declan are confident that they have assembled a very talented and motivated team of experts in all fields to make this development the best that it can be."

It also includes New Brunswick’s history as a haven for Irish settlers fleeing Ireland after the famine.

"The peaceful shores of New Brunswick have been a welcoming sight for hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants who passed through Partridge Island during the famine years," it says, adding that Saint John is Canada’s most Irish city and celebrates its strong Irish heritage with a week-long St. Patrick’s music and entertainment festival.

The resort also includes the promise of a highly-touted Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Only those who own a property will qualify for golf course membership, and priority golf tee times will be given to owners and renters of a dwelling.

Julie Trimble, a spokeswoman with Nicklaus Company in Florida said there are no signed projects in New Brunswick at this time.

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