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Talamh an Éisc! (The Land of Fish) Newfoundland


s Tim Pat Coogan, author and former editor of The Irish Press so succinctly put it, “Outside Ireland itself, there is probably no more Irish place in the world than Newfoundland,” and for those

who have had the privilege of visiting Newfoundland, some may argue it is more Irish than many places here at home today.

The Irish and Newfoundlanders have a lot in common – they are both island peoples living at the edge of great continents with fi ercely independent natures and proud of their success in overcoming the odds. Newfoundland’s vibrant culture has been infl uenced by a number of key factors including: the importance of community and family in small rural villages; the traditional economic dependence on the ocean; and the concentrated migration from Southeast Ireland and Southwest England. Some Irish traditions that have been transferred to Newfoundland include mummers (wren boys), ballad and trad sessions, farming techniques, and storytelling.

Irish men and women have travelled to Newfoundland since the end of the 15th century, following the voyages of John Cabot and the ties between Ireland and this eastern Canadian province run deep. The fi rst record of a Waterford ship on the Grand Banks in Newfoundland dates back as far as 1534 and our ancestors gave Newfoundland the name Talamh An Eisc which translates as “Land of the fi sh” or more accurately “Fishing Grounds.”

By the eighteenth century merchants and fi sherman from the South East Region of Ireland were travelling regularly to Newfoundland for the fi shing season. One contemporary account tells of “25 sailing vessels waiting at Passage East, in Waterford Harbour, for the tide to Newfoundland”.

These strong, hardy men had a hard life fi shing in freezing winter conditions. They tired of the long journey back and


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