Fort Augustus Irish Descendants Association releases Just Another Ireland

Book commemorates the special relationship with the homeland and more

Mary MacKay
Published on May 22, 2014

Fort Augustus Irish Descendants Association members Anna Duffy, Margaret Proctor, Leona Beagan and Mary Leah Trainor are gearing up for the launch of Just Another Ireland on Sunday evening, May 25, at the Fort Augustus Recreation Centre.

©Guardian photo by Mary MacKay

Four delegates from County Monaghan, Ireland will be visiting P.E.I. this year to attend the launch of Just Another Ireland, which will be held at the Fort Augustus Recreation Centre on Sunday, May 25, starting at 6 p.m. to celebrate Fort Augustus Irish Settlers Day. There will be a meet and greet with the delegation at 7 p.m., a heritage display and a ceilidh featuring Fiddlers’ Sons starting at 7:30 p.m.

Company’s coming to Fort Augustus once again this year.

And when the almost annual arrival of Irish visitors from County Monaghan, Ireland, to this P.E.I. community that was settled by Irish immigrants in the early 1800s happens in 2014, there will be something special to commemorate this occasion.

The launch of Just Another Ireland is set for Sunday, May 25, at 6 p.m. at the Fort Augustus Recreation Centre.

The book describes the similarities and connection between Ireland and Prince Edward Island, the history of local politicians who were involved in the 1864 Charlottetown Conference and others over the years, and a brief history of the community, as well as the association and its events.

“It’s trying to show the connection between Ireland and Prince Edward Island,” longtime Fort Augustus Irish Descendants Association member Anna Duffy says of the book, which was produced by the association, with support from the P.E.I. 2014 Fund.

“We had a lot of clippings and a lot of information on the history of the Irish settlers. We just wanted to keep it all in one place and give a little account of it to let people know we are here, we are alive, we are doing things,” says association president Mary Leah Trainor.

This Irish stronghold in Lots 35 and 36 in P.E.I. is rooted in a large Scottish immigration known as the Glenaladale Settlers in 1772, led by Capt. John MacDonald.

He eventually granted the Fort Augustus lands to his third son, Rev. John MacDonald, an ordained priest who colonized the Island and who had close connections with Rev. Patrick Moynagh in Donagh, County Monaghan, Ireland.

This led to the immigration of hundreds of families with roots in that northern section of Ireland to P.E.I. in the early 1800s, some of whom at the time were living in Dumbarton near Glasgow, Scotland, to avoid persecution in their own country.

“. . . By the early 1840s over 3,000 immigrants from County Monaghan and vicinity populated not only Fort Augustus but also Kinkora, Emyvale and Kelly’s Cross. They scattered to other areas of the Island as well, where they mingled with hundreds of earlier arrivals from the southern counties of Ireland . . ,” states Brendan O’Grady in an account in Just Another Ireland.

The Fort Augustus Irish Descendants Association began in 1990 to commemorate the arrival of that group of Irish settlers to P.E.I. on the Corsair on May 19, 1830.

In 1990, a celebration known as We’re A’kin to Ireland, which was a joint venture between the P.E.I. Department of Tourism and County Monaghan, Ireland, was marked by a visit from an Irish delegation.

There have been many visits by parties on both sides of the ocean since then.

“Because of all of this a bond has been created with County Monaghan, and it has become very strong. There have been people who visit back and forth every year and it’s created a lot of tourism in Ireland as well as here,” says Trainor, who has been to Ireland six times. “We have great friends. For me I’d say it’s been the friendship with the people, the close contact and getting to know them.”

“And learning about our own genealogy. . . and to fully realize that yes, that’s where we did come from,” adds association secretary Margaret Proctor, who has been to Ireland twice. “We’ve heard our older family members connected to Ireland, maybe singing songs and so on; and just seeing Ireland itself and seeing how unique and beautiful it is. . . . (and) seeing how similar it is to P.E.I., mainly in the people and the landscape.”

Included in the book are stories and articles dating back to as far as the 1800s and a listing of the original settlers.

“When the delegates walk through the old part of the cemetery (at St. Patrick’s Church) they say, ‘We think we’re still in Ireland because the names are the same,’ because that’s where most of the (original) settlers here had come,” Proctor says.

And place names on P.E.I. are often equally familiar, such as the Monaghan Road and Dromore.

“We tour around different places and the whole group goes together and when we’d come upon a road sign that they recognized they’d want to stop and have their picture taken by it,” adds association member Leona Beagan. “They’d be all excited because that road would be the same as one in Ireland.”