Listen to the voices of Newfoundland and the south east of Ireland

The leading scholars of Newfoundland’s Irish are Professor John Mannion and his wife Maura, who along with others, have dedicated their lives to researching and understanding the connection between the two countries. With the exception of Ulster migrations to America, Irish migration to Newfoundland was the most substantial movement of Irish people across the Atlantic in the 18th century. The majority of the Irish originated from the south east corner of Ireland including, Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Cork and Carlow, and represent the oldest and most persistent connection between Ireland and Canada. The migration began in the later decades of the 17th century when ships from the English West country called in to ports along Ireland’s south coast to collect food and workers for the transatlantic cod fishery. These migrations were primarily seasonal. Young men worked for a summer or two and then returned to Ireland. The migration peaked in the 1770s and 1780s when more than 100 ships and 5000 men cleared Irish ports for the fishery. The Graves Archive, held at various locations in the south east of Ireland indicated ships continued to travel between Ireland and Newfoundland up to 1849.

Over the generations the Irish created a distinctive culture in Newfoundland and Labrador and their descendants carried on many of their traditions. Irish culture is still evident throughout the region but in particular on the Avalon peninsula. Newfoundland is rightly referred to as the ‘most Irish place outside of Ireland’, and it is this sense of belonging, a feeling that cannot be correctly explained, that occurs when Newfoundlanders visit Ireland and when Irish people visit Newfoundland. It appears to be within us … our people, our culture, our landscape. The purpose of  highlighting Newfoundland is to continue a conversation between the two regions and to encouraging Newfoundlanders to visit Ireland and vice versa in an effort to share all that we celebrate.

A further step in the Ireland Newfoundland relationship has been the digitization of John and Maura Mannion’s records, a project supported by the Irish and Newfoundland and Labrador Governments. Original handwritten records of Newfoundland’s early Irish settlers indicate where Irish Newfoundlanders originate from and this web-based tool can be used to assist people with their genealogical search.

The Mannion collection can be accessed here. This free web-based tool will assist Newfoundlanders in discovering their origins. According to John, no province in Canada drew its immigrants from so concentrated a space. The roots of most Irish Newfoundlanders hail from Waterford city and its hinterland, specifically southwest Wexford, south Carlow, south Kilkenny, southeast Tipperary, southeast Cork, and county Waterford. New Ross and Youghal were secondary centres of embarkation, with smaller hinterlands. River ports like Graiguenamanagh on the Barrow, Inistioge and Thomastown on the Nore, Clonmel on the Suir and Lismore on the Blackwater, were also important sources of migrants.

Waterford Newfoundland Tours – visit our tour page to book a tour and learn more about Waterford/Newfoundland heritage.

Newfoundland Links