The Irish Exodus

John Francis Maguire

The Irish Exodus—The Quarantine at Grosse Isle—The Fever Sheds—Horrors of the Plague—The 'Unknown'—The Irish Orphans—The good Canadians—Resistless Eloquence—One of the Orphans—The Forgotten Name—The Plague in Montreal—How the Irish died—The Monument at Point St. Charles—The Grave-mound in Kingston—An illustrious Victim in Toronto—How the Survivors pushed on—The Irish in the Cities of Upper Canada—The Education System—The Dark Shadow—The Poison of Orangeism—The only Drawback

I HAVE more than once referred to the unfavourable circumstances under which the vast majority of the Irish arrived in America, and the difficulties with which, in a special degree, they had to contend; but the picture would be most imperfect were not some reference made to the disastrous emigration of the years 1847 and 1848—to that blind and desperate rush across the Atlantic known and described, and to be recognised for time to come, as the Irish Exodus. We shall confine our present reference to the emigration to Canada, and track its course up the waters of the St. Lawrence. A glance even at a single quarantine —that of Grosse Isle, in the St. Lawrence, about thirty miles below Quebec—while affording a faint idea of the horrors crowded into a few months, may enable the reader to understand with what alarm the advent of the Irish was regarded by the well-to-do colonists of British America; and how the natural terror they inspired, through the terrible disease brought with them across the ocean, deepened the prejudice against them, notwithstanding that their sufferings and misery appealed to the best sympathies of the human heart.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America