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forth between the two countries and they eventually brought their families with them settling in small fi shing villages around the coast of the island. In time they learnt to speak English and their pronunciation had a lasting effect, in fact it is said that the accent around the capital of the province, St John’s, is very similar to the Waterford accent and the local expression “Well boy” is frequently heard.

Early in the 1800’s the population of Newfoundland almost quadrupled. In the three decades between 1803 and 1836, the population grew from 19,000 to 75,000. There were two major waves of migration, each overwhelmingly Irish, between 1811 and 1816 and again between 1825 and 1833 preceeding the Great Famine. Today, almost half the province’s population are descendents of Irish immigrants with names like Aylward, Byrne, Cahill, Doyle, Hogan, Kiely, Lawlor, Mooney, Murphy, Power, Walsh, and Whalen. Migration records from the early 19th century show Carrickbeg, Dungarvan, Stradbally and Tramore were the principal areas in county Waterford from whence the majority of the migrants originated.


These sons and daughters of Waterford were responsible for transforming late eighteenth century Waterford as they fi nanced rebuilding the city’s quays, City Hall and many of the fi ne Georgian houses that adorn the city. It also seemed to be common practice for these people to have their children brought back to Waterford to be baptised and one descendent of Newfoundland settlers who came back to Waterford was the fi rst catholic mayor of this city, Thomas Meagher.


Professor John Mannion of Memorial University, Newfoundland, has calculated that over 75% of all Irish migration to Newfoundland came from the South East of Ireland. Most of these migrants settled in the Avalon Peninsula, within 100 miles of St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland. This migration represents the most intensive recorded transatlantic migration from one small geographic area to another. It predated by over half a century the huge waves of Irish migrations that commenced during the Great Famine years of 1845-49.

The connections between South East Ireland and Newfoundland have long existed, but it was not until 1996, that the then Taoiseach, John Bruton and Premier, Brian Tobin, formally recognised the special kinship that existed between Ireland and Newfoundland. Based on the desire “to explore the possibilities of mutually advantageous economic through

cooperation, government,

industrial, business and cultural activities”, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

These strong links have persisted through the centuries and today Waterford is twinned with St. John’s and Newfoundland is remembered with great fondness for being a welcoming haven for Irish emigrants. The Ireland Newfoundland Connections Ltd co-ordinate exchange programmes between the two regions, which include, fi sheries exchange, sustainable rural development programmes, school twinning, cultural and artistic exchanges and exhibitions. A bi-annual festival is hosted every year alternating between Newfoundland and South East Ireland. The festival this year will take place in Ireland from Friday 17th September to Sunday 26th September 2010. For further information go to

Particular thanks to Eamonn Murphy of the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership who kindly assisted with this feature.


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