Irish Islanders commemorate ancestral home

Mitch MacDonald
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Members of the Benevolent Irish Society in Charottetown at the Irish memorial on the boardwalk Saturday to lay a wreath in honour of St. Patrick's Day.

A group of Islanders gathered at the Irish Settlers Memorial on Saturday to commemorate their ancestral home.

While the crowd was small, the pride was strong among the group which braved some feisty winds as it laid a wreath at the memorial in remembrance of the original Irish settlers of P.E.I.

George O’Connor, of the Benevolent Irish Society on Prince Edward Island, said the purpose was to commemorate Irish in the “old country” as well in on the province.

“It’s to remember them, the Irish history, the Irish heritage,” he said.

The BIS was founded in 1825 and is now celebrating its 189th year.

Martin Kenny, of St. Teresa, was at the gathering with members of his family including three grandchildren Caitlin and Liam McGuire and Braden Kenny.

“The reason why we continue to do it is to let them know they came from a background that was difficult,” said Kenny. “Our people came to this country over 100 years ago and we want to keep the history alive, keep the culture alive and keep the idea alive of Irish people all over the world getting together for celebrations with family and others.”

For Jay Kenny, also of St. Teresa, it was the 45th time participating in the event.

“I missed one parade in 46 years,” said Kenny, who was disappointed with the smaller-than-usual crowd.

Saturday’s crowd was small but saw a mix of both young and old.

O’Connor said involving the younger generation is an aim of the BIS.

“That’s how you pass on tradition,” said O’Connor. “That’s how you pass on heritage is to the younger generation, so we’d like to see a lot more in the future.”

O’Connor said he wanted to wish all Islanders a happy St. Patrick’s Day, which is on Monday.

“Hopefully everybody will be involved in one way or another. Either house parties, or the pubs or some of the activities the Benevolent Irish Society is putting on,” he said. “(We want to) just invite everybody to have a very, very happy St. Patricks’ Day.”

The BIS will be holding a St. Patrick’s Day Ceilidh at the Irish Cultural Centre on North River Road in Charlottetown at 8 p.m.

Featured performers will be The Chaissons.

Organizations: Benevolent Irish Society on Prince Edward Island, Irish Cultural Centre

Geographic location: North River Road, Charlottetown

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  • yolanda
    March 16, 2014 - 16:29

    Congratulations George and all who participated, and Happy St. Patrick' s day to everybody of Irish decent and not. The cheerfulness, traditions and history of the Irish, is worth preserving and supporting. May you always keep it up, and may the wind be always at your back --- good luck.

  • Gail Gallant (Hagan)
    March 16, 2014 - 09:29

    I am glad to hear that the BIS is still running, my father was a member while I was young and growing up in Charlottetown, St. Patrick's day was very important to him and was always in the parade, he was very proud of his heritage. I remember the St Patrick plays. March 17 has always been an important day for me, wish I was in Charlottetown to attend the evening at the BIS, but thank you for keeping the tradition going.

  • same story
    March 16, 2014 - 08:43

    It is a shame that St .Patrick's day became hijacked by the fools who have turned it into a drunken mess.