Book Review: Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada 1761-1853, Volume II; by Terrance M. Punch, FRSAI
Just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day, I got a copy of Terrance Punch’s latest book on Irish immigration to Atlantic Canada – and it’s loaded with information you won’t find elsewhere.
Volume II of Erin’s Sons covers the same time period as its predecessor (currently out-of-print) and the same geographic area – the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. This attractive book lists an additional 7,000 Irish arrivals in Atlantic Canada before 1853.
What is remarkable about this second volume is the rich variety of information derived from hard-to-find sources such as church records of marriages and burials, cemetery records, headstone inscriptions, military description books, newspapers, poor house records, and passenger lists. The resulting body of documents is replete with human drama: shipwrecked immigrants, families in search of members, people taken ill while en route to a distant location, old soldiers fallen on hard times, tenants uprooted from their farms and shipped to Canada, and so forth.
One of the first things the reader will find are maps of County Donegal, County Kilkenny (southern part), and County Waterford (Dunarvan and Ardmore area), drawn specifically to help the researcher in dealing with the often confusing place naming patterns of Ireland. The Civil Parishes were often not exactly the same as the Catholic Parishes – causing all kinds of confusion. Tables of the names are included to go with the maps.
The next major section of the book is made up of 65 pages of vital records that list place of origin in Ireland (mostly deaths & marriages) from some 30 Canadian newspapers. The following is a pretty typical entry:
Died 20 Oct 1817 at Saint John NB – William Thompson, 27 a passenger in the brig Concord from Londonderry. he was a native of Achnacloy [Aughnacloy], Co. Tyrone; left a widow and one child – CG, 27 Oct 1817 [CG is the abbreviation that Punch used for the newspaper City Gazette, of St. John, New Brunswick.]
There are also lists of runaways and deserters, transported convicts, and indentured servants, which offer a vivid, if sometimes bleak, picture of Irish immigration to Canada.
Also included are maps showing Irish ports of embarkation, an index of surnames, and ships found listed in the book. The volume is loaded with previously untranscribed data – and will be of extreme interest to anyone with Irish-Canadian ancestry.
Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada 1761-1853, Volume II; by Terrance M. Punch, FRSAI; 2009; Soft Cover, Perfect Bound, 8.5×11, 197 pp, ISBN: 9780806317892; Item # GPC4709. $30.00 plus $5 p&h. Order from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211; Phone 800-296-6687; Fax 410-752-8492; Order on the web at www.genealogical.com.