Members of the Fort Augustus Irish Descendants Association show their excitement over the first-ever Canada Day Celebration in County Monaghan, set for July 1-3. From left are John Kenny, Mary Leah Trainor, president, Anna Duffy, Leona Beagan and Pat Duffy. Trainor and Beagan are two of the Islanders planning to attend.
©SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN
As Mary Leah Trainor celebrates St. Patrick's Day today, her thoughts will turn to another upcoming Irish celebration.
On July 1, she will be in Ireland to celebrate Canada Day in County Monaghan.
And the Prince Edward Islander with strong Irish roots can't wait for that day to arrive.
"I'm excited, but the real excitement hasn't hit me yet," says Trainor, president of the Fort Augustus Irish Descendants Association.
"I feel it's important to go because it's their first-ever Canada Day and I think if this one works out well, they'll be planning more in the future."
The festival recognizes the historical and ever-increasing links between Ireland and Canada.
"It's important to keep these links going," says Trainor, one of several Prince Edward Islanders going on the trip.
Leona Beagan is another.
"I've never been to Ireland before, so I am both apprehensive and excited about going. But I've met many people who have come over so it will be nice to see them again," says Beagan.
Sean Conlon, a councilor with the Monaghan County Council, knows the importance of these international friendships.
"After living almost half of my life outside of Ireland, mostly in the United States, I have a strong affinity with the diaspora experience and enjoy a great appreciation of the multiple interpretations of that cherished word 'home'," says Conlon, during an Internet interview.
It is estimated that 70 million people around the world claim a connection to Ireland, and throughout the U.S. and Canada this is especially evident.
"Prince Edward Island has particularly strong ties as up on a third of the population would claim Ireland as their ancestral home.
"Of course, over the St. Patrick's Day festivities, this figure is known to rise dramatically," says Conlon, adding the council is looking forward hosting the Canada Day festival.
"This, as well as the twinning between P.E.I. and County Monaghan (which started years ago), seeks to promote and encourage folks into embracing both their Irish and Canadian ethnicity."
For Trainer, who is making her sixth trip to Ireland, it's a natural kinship.
"When I was there last in 2013, there were a lot of people I didn't get to see because time ran out. But, I did hear later that they were disappointed that they didn't get to see me. So it's become like an extended family."
This time she's hoping that other Islanders will join them.
"For anyone who has been there it's a real celebration and they're made to feel so welcome."
"Prince Edward Island has particularly strong ties as up on a third of the population would claim Ireland as their ancestral home." Sean Conlon, a councilor with the Monaghan County Council.
If you are going
u What: Canada Day in County Monaghan.
u When and where: July 1-3, Ireland.
u Program: The Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers, a native of Miramichi, N.B., will open the weekend. The inaugural Canada Day lecture will be given by Professor Thomas O'Grady, director of Irish studies at the University of Massachusetts and the son of UPEI professor Brendan O'Grady. Along with the workshops, entertainment and excursions are planned to nearby attractions.
u Contacts: Anyone wanting more information or who is planning to attend is asked to call Anna Duffy at 902-676-2708, or Mary Leah Trainor, 569-1302.