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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Good signs for Nova Scotia's historic Irishtown

Interpretative signage now distinguishes Irishtown
Following a long campaign by An Cumann, the Irish Association of Nova Scotia, to recognise the contribution of Irish immigrants to the development of Halifax, interpretative signage has been installed to highlight the Irishtown district.

Dr Terry Punch IGRS, the renowned historian and genealogist*, carried out research for the campaign team. He found that the Irish formed a recognisable group in the early foundation of Halifax and that the Irish language was regularly spoken and heard in its streets.

They were actively engaged in the fishing industry in downtown Halifax but moved out to fishing villages such as Ketch Harbour from the 1760s.

A second wave of Irish immigrants began to repopulate downtown Halifax in the 1830s. Between 1860 and 1890, up to 50% of residents in some parts of the district were Irish, earning the area the nickname of Irishtown.

For the most part, this group was not part of the famine exodus.

The Halifax Irish made significant contributions to the social life and economic prosperity of the town, especially in the port industry and commercial waterfront, so it's good to see this pubically recognised.

* Terry's book, North America’s Maritime Funnel: The Ships that brought the Irish 1749-1852, was published last month. See report.