I was invited to attend at Sliabh Beagh Hotel, Knockatallon, on Wednesday, September
25th to meet some visitors from New Brunswick. They were on a tour of Ireland and
directed to Monaghan by our good friend, Mervyn McCarthy. All members of the tour
are from in and around Fredericton, which is the capital city of New Brunswick, and
are led on this Tour by Bruce Driscoll and his wife. They enjoyed a very tasty meal
and traditional Irish hospitality in Sliabh Beagh followed by music and dancing before
returning to the Four seasons Hotel which is their base for four nights. They were
high in their praise of the warm welcome they have received and the wonderful reception
in Sliabh Beagh. I had the pleasant experience of chatting to Jane and her husband,
both retired teachers and Jane now involved in journalism with her son a photographer.
She is an avid reader and a great story-teller and a very interesting person in whose
company time flies. I also had a chat with Bruce, who, with his wife, have been regular
visitors to Ireland over the past 13 years. They have traced some ancestors to Co.
Cork and have made good friends with people there and come to visit regularly. He
praised the Irish Government for it ‘Gathering’ initiative which has increased the
Canadian and US tourist traffic by 18% which is great. The Irish Canadian Cultural
Association of New Brunswick was formed in 1983 because of the large Irish connection
there. Bruce is President of that association and has one more year to reign. From
the late 1700’s the Irish connection was very important to the people of New Brunswick
and it was accepted that New Brunswick was ‘a place for the Irish to come’. The Irish
Association tries to raise the presence and profile of those with Irish roots. The
city of Moncton has an Irish Centre where people can find information and keep in
touch and now Fredericton is setting up a similar resource centre and the Book of
Tydavnet Townlands, presented to Bruce by Mary Mullen, will be placed in that centre.
The Irish were pushed west until the only place they could go was across the sea
and arrive in Canada. The Irish never allow their Irishness to get lost and it makes
them want to trace their roots. This tour has gone to Cork, Kerry, Galway, Sligo
and Monaghan. After a few days in Monaghan they return to Dublin and hence to home.
Everyone is really enjoying it and even though many had been to Ireland before they
were finding something new all the time on this tour, which is terrific. He gave
as an example the fact that Rice Coaches took the group to St. Patrick’s Well and
this turned out to be a very spiritual stop. He thanked Willie McKenna for his assistance
with the tour programme and he thanked everyone who had made them all feel so welcome.