Friday 24 May 2019

The village of Carnew welcomes home a group of Canadian descendants

Canadians Mary Campeau, Anne Kraushaar and John Balfe getting genealogical help from Catherin Wright
Canadians Mary Campeau, Anne Kraushaar and John Balfe getting genealogical help from Catherin Wright

Sara Gahan

The community of Carnew welcomed home a group of descendants of their kinfolk who emigrated to Canada during the bleak, hungry years of mid-19th century Ireland.

The visit was organised by the Coollattin Canadian Connection, an initiative by Carnew couple Kevin and Eleanor Lee and will feature on RTÉ Nationwide programme in the coming weeks.

The initiative was launched at Coollattin House in January, 2016 by Minister Simon Harris and the Canadian Ambassador His Excellency Mr Kevin Vickers. Since the launch the organisers have managed to reunite many Candian-Irish with their south Wicklow roots.

This year's annual homecoming took place on July 14, until July 21. The group came from places as far as Ottawa, Waterloo, North Bay, Kemptville, Granoque, Vancouver, Edmonton, North Carolina, Michigan as well as Carnew's twinned town of Smiths Falls in Ontario.

During the course of the week, they took part in bus tours to local attractions such as Ferns Castle, Coollattin House, Wells House and House of Stories in Camolin.

While in Carnew, the visitors were taken on a historical walking tour of the village, which concluded with a vintage garden tea party in a pre-Famine cottage generously made available for the occasion by Elizabeth (O'Reilly) Flanagan.

They also went a day long excursion to Dublin where they visited the Epic Museum and the famine replica ship, the Jeannie Johnson.

One of the most meaningful events during the week was at the elevated site of the mass rock at Mount Pleasant near Tinahealy which was made available by the Rothwell family. Local Catholic and Church of Ireland clergy joined in on the homecoming celebration.

To conclude such a tremendous week, the visitors were treated to a Victorian banquet in Poole's restaurant in Carnew. The meal was prepared in accordance with a recipe from a book used by the cook in Coollattin House during the 1880s. Guest of honour at the function was his Excellency, Mr Kevin Vickers, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland. There was also a special production of the award-winning play 'Flight to Grosse Ile' by Kilrush Drama Group in St Brigid's Hall.

The organisers if the successful homecoming weekend wish to acknowledge the generous support they received.

Gorey Guardian