The Irish of Newfoundland, Canada 1981

A Community of Irish people living over two thousand miles from Ireland in Newfoundland

‘The Forgotten Irish’ is a community of Irish people living over two thousand miles from Ireland in Newfoundland, Canada, whose ancestors left their home country six generations ago. Radharc looks at a colony of Irish people for whom time has stood still.

They speak with Irish accents, use Gaelic phrases, sing Irish songs, use old Irish farming techniques and gut fish the way their ancestors did in the 18th century. Aidan O’Hara encounters this community of sixth generation Irish in Cape Shore, Newfoundland, Canada.

On his journey Aidan speaks to Professor John Mannion, Memorial University of Newfoundland, who has carried out detailed research into the Irish story in Newfoundland. Prof. Mannion argues that the Irishness is largely due to isolation but sees that this isolation is becoming less and less and the Irish communities are becoming more and more open to influences from American and Canadian mainstream society. O’Hara also speaks to George Careen, Paddy Judge, Caroline Brennan, Alban Powers, and Mick Nash, who tell their stories of how their families came to live so far from Ireland and yet retain so many aspects of their Irishness.

There are scenes of dancing and singing that would not be out of place in the rural or Gaeltacht Ireland of times gone by.

Religion is central to community life and while the priests may be Canadian many of them have been trained in Ireland and maintain a strong Irish connection. At the funeral of Ignatius McGrath, it is evident that the traditional Irish wake continues. But will this tradition die with him? Fr. Charles Kelly believes that much of the folklore and oral traditions will be lost in everyday life and become purely a subject for academic study.

The cultural isolation in which the Irish immigrants lived has meant the survival of Irish traditions, beliefs, superstitions, folklore and culture. However, new roads, electricity supplies, improved services and of course television are opening up the Cape Shore to outside influence.
Credit to : CR’s Video Vaults

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