The Irish of Albert County - Happy St Patrick's Day

The Irish first came to Albert County as early as 1818, they emigrated from County Antrim, Cork, Donegal, Fermanagh, Kerry, Londonderry, Louth, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone and Waterford.

The Irish people who made Albert County their home came here after first arriving in the City of Saint John, in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, sometimes after living in those areas for a time. If they arrived in Saint John they then made their way up the Shepody Road, also known as the Immigrant Road, often walking the long distance. Some went towards the area of Hastings, which is now in Fundy National Park, but mostly they settled in a place they called New Ireland, with names such as Galway and Kerry within this community reflecting their beloved homeland. Hastings and New Ireland were both hilly areas with elevations of approximately 1250 feet. 

As New Brunswick was anxious to have the province settled, they granted land to people whom they felt qualified for such; people who would clear and settle it. Settlers often were given a “location ticket” first, allowing them to live on the land. Later, if improvements were made they received the land grant, usually of 100 acres. When the land was first cleared of trees in New Ireland, it was then burned. Then they planted a crop which was known as “burnt land potato”. These potatoes were very scabby and barely edible. Later some of the people had fairly large farms, with big barns for hay. They kept cows, made hay and grew crops such as corn, oats, barley and buckwheat. 

Regardless of where the Irish settled in the lower end of Albert County, they eked out a living from the land, mostly by farming and lumbering. They picked the stones off the land, and then used them for stone fences to mark their lots of land and for fireplaces and cellars for their houses. The houses were made of hewn lumber or sometimes logs. The log homes were caulked with moss, and birch bark or buckwheat hulls were used for insulation.

 Harvey and Alma are the two parishes where the majority of the Irish settled. In the 1851 census book, two hundred and fifty one immigrants of Irish nationality are listed for Harvey Parish, out of the 377 Irish who came to the county.And those 377 are the largest number of the total 723 immigrants from all countries who arrived here. 

This is an abridged version of an excellent article written by Beulah Morrissey, Winnie Smith and Gerald Teahan and the original can be found on the ICCANB website here.