Art across the sea
Bridgette Abott off to Ireland
MUSGRAVE HARBOUR, N.L. – A Musgrave Harbour native will soon be showing her provincial pride in Ireland.
Bridgette Abbott, 27, will be representing Newfoundland and Labrador at this summer’s International Rose of Tralee Festival. The annual festival celebrates both Irish culture and the accomplishments of young women with Irish heritage around the globe.
As custodian for the province this year, Abbott is hoping to bring along the spirit of small town Newfoundland and put it on full display.
“I grew up in a small outport community where everyone leans on everyone’s shoulder, just like if look back to when the Irish settlers came here and had to work together to survive,” Abbott said. “I hope to leave a happy and lasting impression. Our culture is rich, we love our music, we love to have fun, we’re very warm and giving.
“I hope I can reflect that during my presentation and through my onstage presence.”
The festival, which runs from Aug. 17-21, includes a tour around Ireland to visit various pubs, businesses and historic sights. Abbott is one of 32 women coming from abroad back to the country of her ancestry.
Abbott auditioned for the festival with several other young Newfoundland women. Using skills acquired through her small business “Pretty Ugly”, Abbott played a homemade ugly stick along to some traditional Newfoundland folk music as part of her audition.
Being formerly crowned Miss Newfoundland and Labrador in 2014 was also a helpful experience in helping Abbott display her talents.
When she finally got the news that she had been selected, Abbott says she was ecstatic.
“I was so overwhelmed,” she said. “Every one of us would have been a fantastic selection, it was such a great group of girls.
“I’m not only representing myself, I’m representing this group of girls and our achievements. I’m excited to share that responsibility and represent the province.”
As part of her presentation, Abbott is bringing along one of her personally crafted ugly sticks. She says she’ll be exploring Newfoundland culture through the work of her hands, and with the stick will be adding some humour to her showcase.
As part of her preparation, Abbott also did some considerable research tracing her family tree. She did much of her ancestral investigating at The Rooms and the Centre for Newfoundland Studies in Memorial University. She traced her mother’s maiden name Cuff and her great-great grandmother’s surname – Butler.
Her research led her to one of the earliest censuses in Newfoundland, dating back to 1602.
“I found lots of information about the Butler line, they say it’s one of the oldest last names that ever came from Ireland to Newfoundland,” Abbott said. “It made a personal connection for me to trace it so far back; it brought a new light to my life and who I am.”
Abbott is heading to Ireland on Aug. 12, and is excited for new experiences and new friendships. While she’ll be tracing her ancestor’s steps back to the Old World, Abbott plans to bring a piece of her Musgrave Harbour home along with her.
“The friendliness I have, the kind, giving spirit I have – that’s instilled in me through growing up in Musgrave Harbour,” she said. “I hope that shines through my personality while I’m away and I completely owe that to my community. It brought me to where I am and that’s something I’ll never let go of.”
Bridgette Abbott will be representing Newfoundland and Labrador at this summer’s International Rose of Tralee Festival. The annual festival celebrating Irish culture and heritage is held in Tralee, Ireland from Aug. 17-21.