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May 3 –Montréal West–Public Lecture
May 3 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Canada 150 Event Series
“The Ghost of the Carricks: An Irish Famine Odyssey in Rural Québec”
- ACADEMIC LECTURE: 45 min. presentation and 15 mins. of Q&A
- Books and CDs available following presentation
The Town of Montreal West “Canada 150” event series presents a public lecture by award-winning Irish musician, ethnomusicologist and cultural historian Professor Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin.
The Great Famine, one of the most horrific mass tragedies in recent European history, ravaged Ireland between 1845 and 1852. When it had run its course, a million people lay dead, many buried in unmarked mass graves in the desolate glens and valleys of the West of Ireland. Another million fled the country, some to die of fever and shipwreck on ill-fated coffin ships that were no match for the storms and ice flows of the North Atlantic.
Others were thrown up on Canadian shores to face quarantine and chaos, death and destitution in the fever sheds of Grosse Île and Point St. Charles. For those ‘lucky’ to survive, their destiny called for an uphill battle of wits and endurance to rebuild their broken lives in the New World.
‘Ghost of the Carricks: An Irish Famine Odyssey in Rural Quebec’ is an illustrated lecture (based on a forthcoming documentary film produced and directed by Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin) that profiles one such coffin ship—Carricks of Whitehaven—that foundered off the Gaspé coast in April 1847. Of the 183 people who left the port of Sligo on board the Carricks, nine died crossing the Atlantic.
Of the remaining 164, only 48 survived the wreck—including a woman and an infant who floated ashore when the tide lifted her skirts to give her buoyancy. Their tragic lieux de mémoire near Cap-des-Rosier’s picturesque lighthouse—a mass grave of shifting sand, a ship’s bell, a cross and a triad of flags—has found cultural custodians among the Kavanagh family who have preserved its memory for five generations.
Farmers and fishermen from Jersey Cove, the Kavanaghs are fifth-generation Irish-Quebecois. Their ancestors transitioned from Irish to French a generation after arriving in Quebec and the family has spoken French ever since. This lecture tells the story of this tragedy, the circumstances that led to the ‘assisted emigration’ of the victims, and the lifeworlds they created in exile.
AUTHOR and SCHOLAR
Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin’s most recent book Flowing Tides– History and Memory in an Irish Soundscape (Oxford University Press, 2016) takes the reader on a fascinating journey across 200 years of music in County Clare.
Ó hAllmhuráin’s popular Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music (O’Brien Press, Dublin, 1998) remains one of the top-selling books on Irish music and is enjoyed by music fans and students around the world.
Now, his Short History of Irish Traditional Music (O’Brien Press, Dublin, 2017) takes the reader on through the exciting evolution of Irish traditional music in recent decades.
Since 2009, Professor Ó hAllmhuráin has held The Johnson Chair in Québec and Canadian Irish Studies in The School of Irish Studies at Concordia University in Montréal, Québec.
From 2000-2009, Ó hAllmhuráin was The Jefferson Smurfit Professor of Irish Studies and Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. For many years, he ran the UM-SL Irish Music Concert Series.