St Patrick’s Day – When the Irish Invaded Canada

Who knew?

This fine fellow researched the whole tilting-at-windmills brouhaha — including all the internecine fighting that kept that Hunger Generation from succeeding.

It’s here:

When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom

The thing is, those fighting Irish didn’t actually want Canada; they simply thought they could use it as a hostage to gain freedom for Ireland and they worked hard to make it happen.

The new Irish immigrants flooded to America in order to work for something to eat. Thus, they fought on both sides of the U.S. Civil War and then kinda, sorta joined forces afterward to secure Canada. The rationale was that if they held Canada hostage then the English would have to let much-poorer Ireland go in exchange.

Several things came out of the attempt. First, the British moved the capital further in from its border with America in order to make it more secure. Secondly, the overdue idea of founding a confederation of Canada’s territories became a reality much sooner than might have been the case otherwise.

‘Tis a fascinating book if you’ve the necessary DNA component which allows one to read gobs of stories about in-fighting and betrayal. Though he mentions it, what the writer doesn’t cover sufficiently, me thinks, is the reality of America’s desire for grabbing Canada its ownself. We had taken Texas from Mexico by then and bought Alaska from Russia. Bringing in Canada had great appeal for many Americans. For Canadians, not so much. They are too peaceable; being part of the rowdy U.S. would cause a profound unease. They weren’t called Loyalists for nothing.

Back during the Irish shenanigans, some of America’s politicians bloviated about the desirability of owning the whole hog, but those who did have an eye on the North wanted someone else to do the dirty work. There was little dirty work the Irish weren’t willing to do to get the English out of the Emerald Isle.

A recent video of the author’s talk in Lawrence Massachusetts about this bit of history is below the fold.

Most of Ireland is finally free, but real liberty didn’t last long. They owe their souls to the EU now. It’s too sad for words.

5 thoughts on “St Patrick’s Day – When the Irish Invaded Canada

  1. I’m a Canadian with predominantly French roots but a little Irish. I have Banfill blood which came through New England in the mid-1600’s. They made their way into Michigan in the 1800’s where they founded a town and many of the sons fought for the North in the US Civil War before settling here in Southern Ontario, Canada.

    Canada has largely benefitted from the Irish. They brought their sense of individualism and independence. That famous fighting spirit helped us form unions and fight for greater rights and a more democratic society. Their natural suspiciousness of big government helped to temper the overbearing and overreaching elites and governments of our early days. The Catholic French Canadians often married the Catholic Irish and forged close ties between the two communities.

    Some of Canada’s worst and some of Canada’s greatest were Irish.

    I raise my pint of Guiness to the Emerald Isle and thank God for those days of the past when most immigrants came to our nation to help us build it and make it a better place.

    Éirinn go Brách !!

  2. Lawrence, MA. That’s where I was born & grew up. Back in the early 1900s it was a great melting pot of European immigrants of various cultures who came to sweat and make a new life in the multitudes of mill factories located there. Both sets of grandparents came over from Sicily in that time frame. Most of my extended family is still there while I sit here in Georgia.

    • Lawrence also had a large French Canadian (Canuck) population. That whole area has an interesting history. After the textile mills and shoe manufacturers left, it fell on hard times.

      • Yeah, the Frenchies. Can’t forget them! 🙂

        Most of the old mills were repurposed into retail space and upscale housing for the growing millennial throngs.

  3. Thanks for posting this video, Dymphna. Will watch it as soon as I can grab a spot of time.(Does anyone else notice that it’s hard to keep up with the avalanche of fast-moving news these days?)

    Here in the heart of south-central Ontario (Peterborough-Lindsay area) we have a vigorous Irish community centred on the hamlet of Downeyville. It’s made up of a few houses, a large Catholic church with neighbouring church hall, a Catholic school, and a Catholic cemetery. It’s situated in a farming region and most farms for miles around have Irish-named owners.

    The Irish origins date back to the inflow of poor Irish immigrants in the early 1820s. Peter Robinson, a Canadian politician of the time, arranged for many shiploads of the poorest-of-the-poor to leave southern Ireland, traverse the Atlantic, and make their way inland to Upper Canada. These first Irish immigrants were known as “Peter Robinson settlers” and their descendants still proudly talk of their courage and endurance as they were led into the wilderness, or “the bush” as it was then known.

    I’m neither Irish nor Catholic but I think it’s a wonderful story of human determination and the search for enduring freedoms. Like you, I can’t fathom why the Irish love the EU, but I also wonder why they hate Israel as they do. The answers must lie in some deep part of the human psyche—but in this case the ancestral longings have been warped somehow.

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