Irish-New Brunswick Facts & Trivia

Saint John

Bishop William Dollard

Bishop Thomas Connolly

Bishop Thomas Connolly

The first three Bishops of the Diocese of Saint John were natives of Ireland – William Dollard (far left) of Mooncoin, County Kilkenny, Thomas L. Connolly of Cork (left centre) and John Sweeny (right), of Clones. All were visionaries and builders.

Bishop John Sweeny

Bishop John Sweeny

Timothy Warren Anglin

Timothy Warren Anglin

1849 Timothy Warren Anglin (left) – Born in Clonakilty, County Cork, immigrated to NB in 1849. He founded “The Freeman” newspaper, perpetuated today as “The New Freeman” a Catholic Diocesan Weekly. He later served as a member of the Provincial Legislature and of the House of Commons, where he became the first and only speaker from NB. His daughter Margaret became a noted stage actor in the United States at the turn of the century and his eldest son, E.A. Anglin, became a distinguished member of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Shirley Dysart (right), the first elected woman MLA from Saint John, went on to become the first woman interim leader of the Liberal Party, the First woman Minister of education and the first woman Speaker of the House.

Robert J. Higgins, Leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party, was the first Irish Catholic from Saint John to be elected to lead a provincial political party.

1993 Thomas J. Higgins, was the first elected Irish Catholic Mayor of Saint John, 1993 – 1995.

Shirley Dysart

Shirley Dysart

Sister Honoria Conway

Sister Honoria Conway

Sister Honoria Conway (left), a young Galway-born novice serving in New York, was among the first to respond to Bishop Connolly’s calls for assistance, and it was under her leadership, in 1854, the widely-respected teaching and nursing order, the Sisters of Charity was formed in Saint John.

Dr. James Patrick Collins, (right) a native of Cork, volunteered to help treat fever victims on Partridge Island shortly after setting up his medical practice at York Point. Three weeks after arriving on the island to assist Doctors George J. and William S. Harding, he contracted typhus and succumbed “a martyr to his duty”, on 2 July 1847 at the age of 23 years.

Dr. James Patrick Collins

Dr. James Patrick Collins

1836:  Michael Flood emigrated from County Kildare in 1836. In 1848 he started what has become Canada’s oldest construction company, now John Flood & Sons (1961) Ltd.

Samuel Perry McCavour, of Irish ancestry, who settled in Lorneville, was comptroller of currency from 1925-1930, and as such, his signature appears on Canadian banknotes of that period.

E.J. Henneberry, who later became one of the city’s best-known Provincial Court Magistrates, was elected to the Legislature in 1935 and became president of the Executive Council.

Ralph McInerney was elected to the Legislature in 1939 and George McInerney, along with long time school principal Arthur W. Carton, followed in the 1950s. All were from Saint John.

Michael Flood

Michael Flood

1967 Fort Howe Replica

1967 Fort Howe Replica


1780 – Fort Howe:Saint John had a blockhouse and garrison commanded during the American Revolution by Capt. Gilford Studholme, a native of Ireland. A full-size replica of Fort Howe was constructed in Saint John in 1967.

1819 – Saint Patrick’s Society: The Saint Patrick’s Society in St. John was founded in 1819 for “Gentlemen of Irish descent”. In its early years it provided financial and other assistance for new immigrants from Ireland. The original Society dissolved in the 1880s but was revived in 1929. The Presidency alternates between a Protestant and a Catholic each year.

1843 – Saint John’s first “Irish Free Presbyterian Church” was founded in 1843 when the St. John Congregation, wanting a minister from Ireland, separated from the Scottish-based St. Andrew’s Congregation. Their first minister, Rev. Robert Irvine, came from Ballynahinche in 1844.

1847 – Partridge Island: This historic gateway to Saint John can be viewed in the distance from almost any part of the waterfront. Guardian of Saint John Harbour, Partridge Island was named by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, and has a long immigration, quarantine and military history. The 10 hectare (24-acre) island was designated as a quarantine station in 1785, making it the first such station in North America. Floods of Irish and other immigrants passed through this “Ellis Island of Canada,” and it also served as a military base. The quarantine station was inundated with “Famine Irish”, reaching the peak in 1847. It closed in 1941 and military operations ceased in 1947. The island has been declared both a National and Provincial Historic Site.

1997 – Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann: The Saint John branch of this International organization is formed. It is devoted to the preservation and promotion of traditional Irish dance and music. With an active membership, it holds regular musical Sessions as well as participating in workshops with international performers and instructors.