Fifty-eight people from the Canadian province of Newfoundland will spend several days visiting Carrick-on-Suir at the end of this month to learn more about their ancestral connections to South Tipperary and other South East counties.
The large group will be accommodated by families based in Carrick-on-Suir and its hinterland from Monday, August 27 to Thursday, August 30.
They are visiting Ireland as part of the annual Ireland/Newfoundland Festival, which alternates each year between the two countries.
It’s Ireland’s turn to host the festival that runs from August 24 to September 1 and Carrick-on-Suir is playing a major role in the cultural celebration of the close ties between the Canadian Province and Irish South East counties.
The connection stems from a massive migration of people from the South East in the 18th and early 19th century to work in the thriving fishing industry in Newfoundland. Carrick-on-Suir was one of the main towns from which the emigrants left.
Carrick-on-Suir councillor Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan, who is involved in the Festival’s Carrick-on-Suir committee, said the Newfoundland party will spend the first few days of their trip in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.
Their first engagement after arriving in Carrick-on-Suir on Monday will be at County Hall in Clonmel where South Tipperary Co. Council Chairman Cllr John Crosse will accord them a reception.
The function will be followed by a concert in St Mary’s Church in Clonmel where the first Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland, Bishop O’Donnell is buried.
The concert will feature performances from the Newfoundland visitors as well as local entertainers.
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan said the Newfoundland group will be taken on a tour of Coolmore Stud and the Rock of Cashel the next day and will be treated to entertainment in Bru Boru. That night they will be brought out to a traditional pub music night in Tullahought.
The Newfoundlanders and Irish participants in the festival will attend a history conference in Kildalton College in Piltown the next day at which Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Loyola Ahern will launch the Suir Valley Emigrant Trail, a book of articles and essays about the Irish people who emigrated to Newfoundland, compiled and edited by Tom Nealon, the Chairman of the Ireland/Newfoundland Festival’s Carrick-on-Suir Committee.
The conference will be followed by a trip to a farm village near Mooncoin and a Butler Trail tour around Carrick-on-Suir. .
That evening, a drama group from Newfoundland will perform at Carrick-on-Suir’s Brewery Lane Theatre and the night will end with a singing session in O’Ceallachain’s Bar.
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan said the Newfoundlanders will finish off their visit to the Carrick-on-Suir area on Thursday, August 30 with a shopping trip to Dove Hill before heading to their next destination, Waterford.
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan urged the people of Carrick-on-Suir to welcome the Newfoundland visitors when they see them around the town between August 27 and 30 and called on shops and business premises to put on colourful window displays for the occasion.
“They will be wearing identification tags when they are walking around the town and it would be lovely if people said hello and welcomed them when they meet them.
“And if anyone wants to meet them, come along to the sing song night in O’Ceilleachain’s,” she suggested.
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan also invited anyone who wished to get involved in the Ireland/Newfoundland Festival to contact her at (086) 3220889.