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Canadian Ambassador arrives to Lough Derg Lakelands

Canadian ambassador arrives to Lough Derg Lakelands

A PROUD day for the parish of Terryglass-Kilbarron was enjoyed by the shore of Lough Derg recently as the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland paid an official visit.  The haunting vistas of Coolbawn Quay provided a fitting backdrop for the event, the formal launch of a compelling historiography of local people who emigrated to Canada in the nineteenth century.

561332_348392825196510_1203569728_nAs Bill Ryan of the Kilbarron-Terryglass Historical Society remarked, some of those people began their journey to Canada from the present site of Coolbawn Quay.  He hoped that the visit of Ambassador Kevin Michael Vickers would help to build a bridge across the 200 years that have passed since.  Mr Vickers was welcomed to Coolbawn Quay by lines of flag-waving pupils of the Kilbarron and Terryglass schools.  Bill and his colleague Helen Fox told those present that the Kilbarron-Terryglass Historical Society hopes to connect with many more families from the area whose ancestors emigrated to Canada long ago.

In his address, Mr Ryan said the book serves as a third social history of the old parishes of Finnoe, Kilbarron and Terryglass, following on from the Great War research published by the society in 2014, and Bridie O’Brien’s 1988 parish history.  The gathering was treated to a poignant portrayal of the life of Catherine Kennedy by Kilbarron’s Carol Platt, with Lorrha musician George Harding performing ‘Byegone Days’ on the accordion.  Catherine, of Cloninaha, was part of a family that fled the Famine to Cananda in 1847.  Their story inspired Nenagh playwright Jim Minogue’s ‘Flight to Grosse Isle’.  A Canadian ancestor of Catherine’s then traced her family’s lineage for the audience via a pre-recorded video link.7.Famine victim arrives in Cnada

Joanna Murphy, CEO of Connect Ireland, spoke on behalf of all present in saying she was “utterly moved” by the Kennedy depiction.  On a macro level, she wondered what the people who left places like Terryglass and Kilbarron all those years ago would think about the memorial occasion.  Connect Ireland played a key role in supporting the history project and Ms Murphy paid tribute to all who worked on it in the parish, “an inspiring place to be”.  She added that this project is “only the beginning” and expected that future positives would blossom.

Ireland Reaching Out also played a key role in the project.  Chairman Mike Feerick, who grew up near Portumna, made the point that Tipperary has a worldwide diaspora of between two and three million people. Ireland Reaching Out is putting together a diaspora database that would help to trace many more of our ancestors overseas, he said.

Canadian Ambassador

Ambassador Vickers told the Coolbawn gathering that his family departed Bantry Bay on their way to Canada 200 years ago.  Mr Vickers said Canada is a great country because the Irish made it that way, and he cited numerous examples of this.  Ms Fox presented the ambassador with the history book and a bowl made from a sycamore tree that was planted 200 years ago.  It contained local products including cheese from Cloninaha, Terryglass pottery, candles from Brookfield, preserves from Ballinderry, and crafts from Gortmore.  Ms Fox took the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project and concluded proceedings by singing ‘The Spinning Wheel’, a song written in 1853 by John Francis Waller of Finnoe.    Credit:Simon O’Duffy-Nenagh Guardian