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PEI Visitors September 19th 2013.

When Scottish priest, Fr. McDonald, went to Prince Edward Island few if anyone in Ireland knew about it. However there were many Irish men working in Scotland at the time and they knew Fr, McDonald and when he arrived in PEI and saw the opportunities there he thought about the Irish. Fr. Moynagh, PP of Donagh at the time, who was a very caring man, heard about it and through him it was arranged for hundreds of families to leave North Monaghan and head for PEI between 1829 and 1855. For those who could not pay the fare Fr. Moynagh paid it for them. Some never reached their destination but for those who did, it was a new life and they soon settled in and began to set up a ‘New Ireland’ in Canada. Fr. Moynagh was so loved by the people of Donagh that they erected a large Tombstone at his grave in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Corracrin, and this has now become a place of pilgrimage for people with Irish roots when they visit Monaghan. We in Emyvale Development Association developed a History Tour of the area and the PEI connection is a major part of that tour. Professor Brendan O’Grady was first to make the connection with North Monaghan and Donagh in particular. He was in contact with Seamus McCluskey,  Fr. Barney McCarney and Benny Hackett. Then Tommy Makem was send as an Ambassador to Monaghan to organise a more defined connection and once he met Willie McKenna that process was set in train leading to the Twinning arrangement between the two areas and the rest is history. In the early stages there were sceptics who looked on this all as a waste of money but they were soon proved wrong and now there is a steady stream of visitors from PEI coming to Monaghan. I have witnessed the tears of joy and emotional impact that happens when a person is taken to the homestead from which their forefathers left when they emigrated to the New Ireland or indeed the burial ground of their ancestors. Those who have gone to PEI tell of the wonderful reception they receive, how warm the people are, how they are maintaining the Irish traditions, and how similar it all is to our own areas here.

On Thursday Sept 19th I called to the Sliabh Beagh Hotel and met up with a  group of 45, mainly from PEI, who were being entertained there and they are staying in Monaghan for a number of nights and using it as base to travel to other places of interest. This tour is led by a lady called Peggy Aylward who has had a number of tour groups to the area. They experienced the Irish hospitality and enjoyed a lovely night after a sumptuous meal. Seamus knows the music to play to get sing-a-longs and dancing going. They were officially welcomed and addressed by County Mayor, Sean Conlon. Peggy and Cletus Dunn thanked the Knockatallon community for the wonderful reception and expressed their joy and delight with this part of the tour. In appreciation Mary Mullan presented Peggy with the book on Tydavnet townlands.

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