Newfoundland was an early destination for Irish immigrants during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The beginnings of this migration were deeply embedded in the growth of the Atlantic cod fishing trade which saw many Irish venture to Newfoundland as seasonal fishermen. As Arthur Young recounted in 1776, “The number of people who go passengers in the Newfoundland ships is amazing; from 60 to 80 ships, and from 3000 to 5000 annually.” By 1800 a permanent pattern of Irish settlement had emerged. This migration was remarkable in its geographical origins – with most voyagers hailing from the southeast of Ireland.
Economic circumstances propelled some of these Newfoundland migrants (or their children) to eventually move on to the North American mainland. These “two boaters” left a footprint in early Irish communities particularly in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and those of coastal New England.
This illustrated lecture will explore the homeland origins and Atlantic experience of Irish who journeyed to Newfoundland – with particular emphasis on those leaving from south Kilkenny. We will also investigate outmigration from Newfoundland to New England – highlighting this stepwise movement through several case studies of Irish emigrants to Maine during the nineteenth century.
Ed McCarron is an associate professor of history at Stonehill College. He is originally from Pennsylvania, and currently resides in Maine, but over the years he has lived in a variety of places – from the Florida Panhandle to a rural village in southeast Ireland. Perhaps for this reason, his research interests have focused on place, community and the historical landscape, especially viewed through the lens and contours of Irish immigrant communities. His publications have included articles ranging from an exploration of early Irish settlements in Maine, to a regional case study of Inistioge, County Kilkenny that appeared in the Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape (2nd edition). With his wife Fidelma, he is working on a historical atlas of the Nore Tidewater region of County Kilkenny – a river valley that has witnessed an ebb and flow of migration over the centuries. The Museum welcomes Prof. McCarron back for this, his second talk to our membership.