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THE IRISH STORY
Influence on Saint John
ST. PATRICK STREET - Originally
located in the old East End, this street, along with Erin and Albion Streets,
disappeared in the 1967 Urban Redevelopment. In 1989, the former Dock Street,
fronting York Point and City Hall, was proudly re-named St. Patrick Street, in
a public ceremony attended by renowned Irish entertainer Carmel
SQUARE - Formerly Market Slip, this inlet has long been a centre of
transport and commerce. Today's modern complex, built on the facade of old
buildings, encompasses the site of York Point, formerly a ghetto of
working-class Irish Catholics, and now one of the most prestigious housing
sites in the city.
BRUNSWICK MUSEUM - Housed in Market Square, this upscale museum contains
historical and decorative arts exhibits relating to the Irish in Saint John and
New Brunswick. A special Irish historical display has been mounted in 1997,
under the direction of local genealogist and historian Peter Murphy. The
museum's archives, located in another building on Douglas Avenue, have a wealth
of original documents and other research material relating to the Irish
presence in New Brunswick.
JOHN REGIONAL LIBRARY - Also housed in Market Square, this modern library
displays the St. Patrick's Society exhibit case featuring historical artifacts
on its first-floor reading area. The second floor reference section and Special
collection room contain research and genealogical materials about the Irish in
- The actual point at the foot of Union Street, with its Hilton Hotel,
waterfront development and modern high-rise housing, was the Irish Catholic
district of the previous century. It was here that Dr. James Patrick Collins,
the martyr of Partridge Island, lived and established his practice. It was here
that the York Point Orange and Green Riots broke out in 1847 and 1849. And it
was here that the great Saint John Fire of June 20, 1877 started, destroying
over half the city.
PARTRIDGE ISLAND - This historic gateway to
Saint John can be viewed in the distance from almost any part of the
waterfront. Guardian of Saint John Harbour, Partridge Island was named by the
French explorer Samuel de Champlain, and has a long immigration, quarantine and
military history. The 10 hectare (24-acre) island was designated as a
quarantine station in 1785, making it the first such station in North America.
Floods of Irish and other immigrants passed through this "Ellis Island of
Canada," and it also served as a military base. The quarantine station closed
in 1941 and military operations ceased in 1947. The island has been declared
both a National and Provincial Historic Site.
LYNCH SHIPYARD - It was from this site at Mill Pond near York Point, (at
the foot of Main Street near the present Tim Horton's Coffee Shop,) that David
Lynch, a prominent shipbuilder from Londonderry, Ireland , launched some of the
largest and best of all New Brunswick-built wooden ships. Shipbuilding and its
related industries provided the economic lifeblood of Saint John in that era,
and the Irish played major roles, from owner, builder, labourer and
ST. PATRICK'S SQUARE - This small green spot,
Reed's Point at the foot of Prince William Street, was re-named in the 1967
Centennial to honour citizens of Irish heritage. It overlooks Partridge Island,
and a replica of the island's Celtic Cross stands in the square. In 1997 the
park was again refurbished by the city, and a Memorial Marker erected by the
St. Patrick's Society and Famine 150 was unveiled by Hon. Mary Robinson,
president of Ireland.
ORANGE ORDER NO. 1 VERNER LODGE - This historic building at Germain Street
housed the LOL unit established in 1843. It amalgamated with other city lodges
in 1968, and the building currently serves as a law office.
5 CHIPMAN HILL - These two buildings, designated National and Provincial
Historic Sites, were erected for brothers-in-law Aaron Hastings and Robert
Armstrong, two city merchants of Northern Ireland ancestry. The buildings
feature striking "trompe L'oel" interior fresco paintings. Another of their
in-laws was William F. Smith, the Protestant builder who superintended
construction of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate
JOHN CITY MARKET - One of the oldest and most colorful of its kind in
Canada, the block-long market has served generations of merchants and
customers, including a large proportion of Irish.
MALACHI'S CHAPEL - The modern St. Malachy's High School now stands on this
Sydney Street site at King's Square. Bishop Pleiss celebrated Saint John's
first pontifical mass in the uncompleted chapel in 1815. He dedicated it to St.
Malachi, 12th Century Bishop of Armagh, Ireland. Among the 65 worshippers
attending were several who had rowed across from Carleton on the West Side.
After the opening of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in 1855, St.
Malachi's became a school and lecture hall. The original building was destroyed
in the Great Fire of 1877.
KING EDWARD VII MEMORIAL BANDSTAND - This
ornate bandstand in King's Square was donated to the citizens of Saint John by
the City Cornet Band. The band, formed in 1847, was one of the city's foremost
marching bands. Considered an Irish band, it was comprised primarily of Roman
Catholic members and remained in existence until 1986.
CATHEDRAL OF THE
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - This imposing building had its foundation stone
laid in 1853, under the direction of Irish-born Bishop Thomas L. Connolly. Work
on the building with mostly Irish labour under the direction of William E
Smith, was so rapid that the first mass was celebrated at midnight on Christmas
of 1855. However, finishing details took many more years and the spire was not
erected until 1871.
- a commanding hilltop overlooking Saint John Harbour, had a blockhouse (in
replica today) and garrison commanded during the American Revolution by Capt.
Gilfred Studholme, a native of Ireland.
Cemetery, Loch Lomond Road - Opened in 1853, this historic cemetery
reflects "a distinct, well-defined Catholic culture which had evolved in Saint
John." Over 15,000 are buried here in marked and unmarked graves. In 1995 The
Saint John Irish Canadian Cultural Association erected a memorial Celtic Cross
inside the entrance.
Saint Patrick's School This elementary and
secondary school, on City Line West, is the only public building in Saint John
to carry the name Saint Patrick.
Peter's Church - Erected in the early 1880s on the site of the old
Indiantown cemetery, this church, now staffed by the Redemptorists, is the
first burial site of Dr. James Patrick Collins. His body was later removed to
St. Joseph's Cemetery.
Brewery - Now Canada's oldest independent brewery, this international
corporation was originally founded as Ready's Brewery by James Ready, whose
parents came from Ireland. The brewery is now operated by the Oland
Diocesan Archives, 1 Bayard Drive - The archives contain extensive church
records relating to many parishes around the province. The archives operate on
part-time hours so it is advisable to call ahead for an appointment.
The Irish-Canadian Cultural
Association (Saint John Chapter) - One of the city's newer Irish
organizations, this group was formed in 1984, a year after the founding of the
province-wide I.C.C.A. More than 300 attended its organizational meeting in St.
Malachys High School. The group has succeeded in re-awakening an interest in
the city's Irish history to provide recognition of the contributions of those
of Irish descent. Each March, the group sponsors a high profile mid-winter St.
Patrick's Week Celebration for all citizens.
Patrick's Society - This is one of Saint John's oldest Irish organizations,
founded in 1819 "for gentlemen of Irish descent." Nearly all of its founding
members were Irish born. In its early years it provided financial and other
assistance for new immigrants from Ireland. The original society dissolved in
the 1880's but was revived in 1929. The presidency alternates between a
Protestant and a Catholic each year, and the society remains an all-male
organization. In addition to its annual St. Patrick's Day banquet, the society
has become more active in recent years in community endeavours and charitable
Ceoltóirí Eireann - The saint John branch of this
international organization is devoted to the preservation and promotion of
traditional Irish dance and music. With an active membership, it holds regular
musical sessions as well as participating in workshops with international
performers and instructors.
Order - Still active in Saint John, the Orange Order has consolidated a
number of its lodges. Named after the Protestant leader William Orange who
defeated his Catholic counterpart King James II in the 1690 Battle of the
Boyne, it was originally established in Great Britain to maintain
Protestantism. It was formed in New Brunswick to protect the interests of
Protestants and Loyalists during the years of heavy Irish catholic immigration.
Today, the various lodges concentrate on community projects and benevolent
activity for their members.
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