Ir­ish cit­i­zens say farewell to Har­bour Grace

Dozens of Ire­land na­tives headed to South­ern Shore

The Compass - - News - BY CHRIS LEWIS

We’re far away from home, but some­times it feels like we’re still there.

— Sean Cal­la­han

HAR­BOUR GRACE, NL — Har­bour Grace said slán - or, good­bye - to ap­prox­i­mately 50 Ir­ish cit­i­zens Mon­day morn­ing, Aug. 21.

The Ad­mi­ral’s Ma­rina in Har­bour Grace was packed, start­ing at 9:30, with dozens of peo­ple who call Ire­land their home, as well as dozens of proud New­found­lan­ders who shared their own homes with the Euro­pean vis­i­tors.

The gath­er­ing was a de­par­ture and farewell for Ir­ish folk par­tic­i­pat­ing in the New­found­land Ire­land Gath­er­ing, an event held by New­found­land and Labrador Ir­ish Con­nec­tions that sees com­mu­ni­ties across the province open­ing their doors to Ir­ish trav­ellers for sev­eral days, with the in­tent of deep­en­ing con­nec­tions be­tween the two al­ready closely tied ar­eas.

The gen­eral mission of the non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion is to de­velop and pro­mote both the cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ences be­tween Ire­land and New­found­land, and to cel­e­brate their shared her­itage. To ac­com­plish this, the or­ga­ni­za­tion com­mits to help­ing both res­i­dents of Ire­land and New­found­land travel be­tween the two parts of the world for sev­eral days, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the vastly dif­fer­ent, yet sim­i­lar, life­style, cul­ture, and views each place of­fers.

Mick Casey is a his­to­rian who has taken part in the trip for six years. Casey told The Com­pass he takes great pride in his Ir­ish her­itage, and trav­el­ling to New­found­land al­lows him to see parts of Ir­ish cul­ture that he may not get the chance to wit­ness back home.

“We go back, we have the same blood­line, in a lot of cases,” Casey said. “We come from strong, hard-work­ing peo­ple. That’s clear when you look back at things like the Ir­ish famine, and New­found­lan­ders’ history with the fish­ing busi­ness, and mak­ing a liv­ing for them­selves off of the land. On both sides of the At­lantic, we’ve got the same blood­line, and sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. There’s some­thing to be proud of there.”

Casey said his trav­els through New­found­land are al­ways full of ex­cite­ment, and he’s look­ing for­ward to the group’s next stop in Renews. He added that there’s al­ways some­thing sim­i­lar about every trip – the peo­ple, and the sense of wel­come and com­mu­nity he finds in all of his trav­els through the province.

“There’s re­ally noth­ing like it,” Casey ex­plained. “There’s a big emo­tional con­nec­tion to the peo­ple here in Har­bour Grace, and we’ve only been here for three days. It’s the same ev­ery­where I go in New­found­land and Labrador. The peo­ple are the friendli­est I’ve met, and there’s nowhere that I feel out of place.”

Sean Cal­la­han also calls Ire­land home, and is a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. He told The Com­pass his ex­pe­ri­ences in New­found­land thus far had been unforgettable and, like Casey, said the hos­pitable and wel­com­ing peo­ple of Har­bour Grace and sur­round­ing ar­eas were at the fore­front of his won­der­ful overseas ex­pe­ri­ence.

Cal­la­han de­scribed trips to places like Heart’s De­light, where he got to see some of New­found­land’s famed scenery, stat­ing he was thank­ful he had the op­por­tu­nity to stop for a pho­to­shoot

here and there to re­ally take in the sights.

“It all comes down to the peo­ple,” Cal­la­han ex­plained. “It’s been a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence so far, and the peo­ple we’ve met are what re­ally make it great. The food is lovely, the mu­sic was great, but the peo­ple re­ally topped it all off.

We’re far away from home, but some­times it feels like we’re still there.”

The morn­ing ended off with res­i­dents of both New­found­land and Ire­land join­ing to­gether to sing “Ode to New­found­land,” fol­lowed by a mass lineup on op­po­site sides of the Ma­rina, where each of the Ir­ish vis­i­tors shook hands, hugged, and said good­bye to each New­found­lan­der in the room.

The trav­ellers were then es­corted out of Har­bour Grace, where they headed on­ward to their next three-day des­ti­na­tion – Renews.

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Mick Casey has taken trips to New­found­land on five other oc­ca­sions, and says he looks for­ward to vis­it­ing each time.

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Har­bour Grace Coun. Gord Stone say­ing good­bye to one of the Ir­ish cit­i­zens that spent the past three days in the com­mu­nity.

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