Project Updates

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Update note for May 31st 2020

A Small Project Update
As most of you are aware, some months ago, during the REM excavation for the new light transit system, the remains of 14 victims from the 1847 event, were discovered. (This excavation took place in 1% or less of the total area where the main burials of the victims from 1847 took place.)
These remains were subsequently sent to a laboratory for testing purposes.
We did receive a note from REM in the last days that although the laboratory has been closed during this virus scare lockdown, that work on this project will resume as soon as possible. They also mentioned that the remains were fairly well preserved and that DNA can likely be obtained for all or most of these remains. They have also sent out requests to other various labs around the world who might be able to provide specialized information.
The hope is that the DNA will provide information such as the gender of the victim; the approximate age; the cause of death (likely typhus or malnutrition or a combination); the diet of the victims over time (likely potatoes, corn etc.); confirmation that these remains were Irish and from the 1847 event (almost for sure but still testing is required) and similar information that will help to build a profile of each victim.
In the meantime, we have also been contacted by a group of volunteer scientists and genealogist in Ireland with an offer to help to review this DNA against their databases. This could provide such information as the location in Ireland where the victims originated. This group has provided a similar investigation concerning unidentified soldiers from WW1 – (if you would like to see a great video on their work in this area, it can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/R76Ubg-b_Sc )
Advances in DNA and the information that it can yield are happening everyday. For example, new developments in forensic DNA is starting to be able to provide a fairly good image of an individual from their DNA.
This is all quite exciting especially since after more then a decade of searching we have never been able to find any record of the names etc. of the 6000+ victims that died and were buried in the area in 1847. And although 14 out of 6000+ is a small number, they could provide at least some representation of all the victims.
The plan is after all the testing etc. has been completed, these remains will be reburied near the Black Rock in the most dignified manner possible – although that is likely a couple of years down the road.
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Walk to the Stone 2020
 

Yesterday was the last Sunday in May and the date for the Annual AOH Walk to the Stone - cancelled like so many of our Irish events in 2020.

The AOH have had a ceremony at the site of the Black Rock since 1865. It began as a private, members only ceremony with a full mass at the site. It has gone through many changes over the years, but the one constant is that the 6000+ Irish souls buried under the Black Rock and the surrounding area have not been forgotten in 173 years. It's the motivation and inspiration for the current International Famine Memorial Day, The AOH Celtic Cross that sits atop Telegraph Hill on Grosse Ile and to some degree responsible, along with the ongoing development of a proper Memorial by the Park Foundation and the Irish Community, for an awakening in Ireland of the impact of the Great Famine on the world.

On Sunday, May 31, 2020 the AOH had a simple laying of the wreath at the Black Rock along with a prayer. Joining us was the team from the Park Foundation working on the Memorial:

Fergus Keyes
Lynn Doyle
Paula Phelan (for Scott Phelan)

We felt you were all there with us.

Victor

Update - October 14th 2017

On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, Hydro started digging a series of holes at the site, each perhaps about 2” around; and maybe 8-10’ deep. This action is, of course, a requirement by law to check for soil contamination before new construction. Earth is removed and then sent to a lab for testing.
So Victor Boyle, in his capacity as Canadian President of the AOH, (Victor is also a Director of the project) organized to have Father McCory present as this work started.

(As many of you know, Father McCory is a Montreal Irish Catholic Priest assigned to St. Gabriel’s Parish in the Point).

As the majority of the 6000 victims buried in the area in 1847 were both Irish and Catholic, the Good Father took a moment to bless the space, as well as the workers on the site; and their task.
We certainly have to take a moment to mention that the company doing these tests seems to be called GHD – likely a contractor for Hydro - and the guys working were absolutely terrific. Couldn’t have possibly asked for more co-operation. They shut down their machinery so Father could give his blessing and mentioned that in all the years that they have done this work, they had never been blessed before and seemed pleased with the small ceremony.

So thanks to Father McCory, Victor Boyle and the workers on the site – it just seemed like the right thing to do as they drill into the ground. We don’t really suspect that any sign of the victims will be uncovered, but with 6000 buried there; and the haphazard fashion that the burials were conducted – particularly in the late fall of 1847 - one never knows.

December 15th 2016

Documentary Release

As some of you may remember, at the same time that Michael Collins was running his great marathon from Grosse Ile to Toronto; we mentioned that a gentleman by the name of Kevin Moynihan, a former Montrealer and a Canadian Documentary film producer was working on a new Doc about Black ’47.

He has now completed his excellent work, and although there might be an official opening for his documentary in the future, he has given The Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation permission to provide you all with a link on YouTube where he has posted it.

His documentary is called THE FAMINE IRISH and runs about 47 minutes.

Kevin mentioned that he would really like your comments / feedback about his production which can be posted here; or, on in the comments section of YouTube.

He includes highlights about our project; our Grey Nun’s exhibition and other details – many are extremely interesting and I learned a few things from his production.

So please do take the time to watch it; comment on it and share it...

https://youtu.be/ZuKPBaUCq2E

 

NEW NOTE - APRIL 13th 2016

Our Grey Nuns Exhibition opened at the Centaur Theatre on Monday, April 11 2016, with great success. And we did receive some great Media coverage. Here are a few of the links to the interviews etc.

The Montreal Gazette Newspaper:

http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/irish-famine-exhibit-celebrates-courage-of-montreals-grey-nuns

Victor Boyle, and Fergus Keyes, in an interview on Global TV.

http://globalnews.ca/video/2633019/saving-the-famine-irish

Radio Canada International (Lynn Desjardins) speaks with Professor Christine Kinealy about the Grey Nuns Exhibition that the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation has now moved to Montreal

http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2016/04/12/exhibit-chronicles-nuns-care-of-irish-immigrants/

 

October 11th 2016 .

The Montreal Irish Monument Park

Thanks to the following organizations for their support

this has helped us to present the exhibition

 

“SAVING THE FAMINE IRISH: THE GREY NUNS

AND THE GREAT HUNGER”

 

Embassy of Ireland - Ottawa -

Department of Foreign Affairs

 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians Canada (AOH)

 

The Irish Embassy Bar & Grill - Montreal

 

 

GREY NUNS EXHIBITION OPENS AT THE GREY NUN’S MOTHERHOUSE IN MONTREAL

We are very pleased to note that the Grey Nuns exhibition called “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” is now open for viewing at the Grey Nun’s Motherhouse at 138 rue Saint Pierre in Old Montreal. Currently the exhibition can be visited any day between about 10am and 4pm – but an effort is being made to extend, or offer a few evening hours.

Even if you saw this exhibit during the few weeks that we had it at the Centaur Theatre, you might want to visit it again. Just the building itself dating back from the 1600”s is beautiful, and our exhibit is only a very small part of their permanent Grey Nuns museum – which, on its own, is fascinating.

The “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” will be on display until the end of November – and is running at the same time as one that is on display in Dublin, Ireland – “Grey Nuns Famine Exhibit at Glasnevin Museum in Dublin”. It involves very similar items as will be found at the Dublin one, with the exception that here in Montreal, the display is bilingual; and also includes some terrific paintings about the event by a local artist, Karen Bridgenaw - which were not available when we had it at the Centaur.

If you plan to attend with a small group, you might want to contact the Grey Nuns at (514) 842-9411 – and they may be able to arrange for a guide to give you a proper tour on their museum.

So if you happen to be in Old Montreal, do take this opportunity to visit this beautiful building and great exhibition.

We will update you with any additional information concerning extended hours etc., as it becomes available.

(BTW – St. Pierre St. – This Street starts off as Park Avenue at the north end; then switches names to Bleury St. in downtown; and again switches names to Saint Pierre St. in Old Montreal)

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NEW NOTES - JUNE 12th 2016 .

You can follow the progress of Michael Collin’s run by liking his page at: https://www.facebook.com/irishdiasporarun2016/

MICHAEL COLLINS IS OFF & RUNNING !!

As mentioned Michael Collins is running from Grosse Ile to Toronto to raise awareness of the tragic events of the Irish immigrants in 1847, as well as, to raise some funds for various Irish Monument efforts including our Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation efforts to build a beautiful cultural green space around the Black Rock.

He is scheduled to arrive at the Black Rock, this coming Friday, June 17th 2016 at noon – and everyone else, is welcomed to meet him there and welcome him to Montreal.

We had the opportunity to meet Michael in Quebec City this past Thursday, June 9th, and then to accompany him to Grosse Ile, yesterday, Friday, June 10th to see him off on the start of his run.
James Donovan & Joseph Lonergan were representing the Irish Community of Quebec City; and gave Michael a great tour of Quebec City on Thursday highlighting especially all the Irish points of interest relating to the city.

Then on Friday, we went to Grosse Ile where Parks Canada did such a terrific job of showing Michael around the Quarantine Station where more than 5000 Irish immigrants died and were buried mostly in the summer of 1847.

And then after this visit to Grosse Ile, Michael set off from Berthier sur Mer, where the ferry from Grosse Ile docks, on his long running journey to Toronto.

There was also an article (in French) written in the Soleil Newspaper on Friday about Michael and his run…

http://www.pressreader.com/…/le-so…/20160610/281788513333186

 

(You can also see various photos and a note about the Quebec City / Grosse Ile part of his run on our Park Foundation Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Blackrockmemorial/ )

 

NEW NOTES - JUNE 12th 2016 Note No. 2

           

 

There is a group of “lady painters” in The Point that call themselves The Group of Sven. Most Sundays during the year they get together to paint and chat. And, then once a year, they hold a Vernissage to display and sell their paintings for the benefit of the Point St. Charles Community Theatre, and our free Youth Theatre program. This year, their Vernissage takes place on Saturday, June 18th from 4pm until 6pm.

A special highlight of this year’s Vernissage is this…

There are very, very few paintings or artistic images from the Montreal event when the Irish immigrants arrived in Montreal, in 1847. More than 6000 of these immigrants died and were buried around the Black Rock on the Montreal side of the Victoria Bridge. The Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation has the objective of getting various levels of government to build a beautiful cultural green space around the Black Rock. Details about our efforts can be found on our Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/Blackrockmemorial/

So we asked the Group of Sven if they would consider painting some of their concepts of the Black Rock. Many of them did, and these painting of the Black Rock will be displayed and on sale at the Vernissage on Saturday.

However, Karen Birdgenaw (one of the group; and a terrific painter) went one step further. We told her about some of the stories from Montreal’s Black 47, and she, in turn, took 3 of these stories and produced 3 paintings. One is about the Grey Nun carrying a sick and dying Irish child; the second is about the fact that there are bodies buried under the Black Rock; and the third is about the Catholic priests who performed the very dangerous task of leaning close to the mouths of these victims to hear their confessions.

All three of her paintings are very, very powerful. And, we plan to add these paintings to our Grey Nuns exhibition – since they really convey the ideas, but we doubt that anyone would want to buy them; and hang them on their living room wall.

So if you are available this Saturday, June 18th between 4 and 6pm, do drop by the Vernissage at the Old Bank, at 1900 Wellington St. in The Point and see their great work (of course, not all the images are of the Black Rock, or related to our project).

 

  1. .by visiting www.thepoint.ca and if not on the opening page when you visit, just click on the page’s YouTube site at the top of the opening page.

 

  1. Michael Collins, an award winning author, and long distance runner, will be leaving Grosse Ile on June 10th to run to the Irish Park in Toronto. He will stop at the Black Rock in Montreal at noon on Friday, June 17th. Everyone is invited to come out an welcome him to Montreal. Details about his effort can be found at: http://www.michaelcollinswriter.com/

 

 

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