The purpose of the Digital Irish Famine Archive is to make accessible eyewitness accounts of the Irish famine migration to Canada in 1847-1848 that would otherwise be unknown. It also pays tribute to those who cared for Irish famine emigrants.
The archive contains the digitized, transcribed, and translated French language annals of the Grey Nuns of Montreal, or Sisters of Charity, who first tended to Irish famine emigrants, especially widows and orphans, in the city’s fever sheds in 1847 and 1848. It also includes annals from the Sisters of Providence and correspondence from Father Patrick Dowd, who worked alongside the Grey Nuns in the fever sheds, as well as testimonies from Irish famine orphans, like Patrick and Thomas Quinn, Daniel and Catherine Tighe, and Robert Walsh, who were adopted by French-Canadian families.
Message from President Michael D. Higgins
During that bleak and terrible period of our history, an estimated one hundred thousand Irish people fled to Canada. It is impossible to imagine the pain, fear, despair, and suffering of these emigrants, many of whom lost beloved family members on their journey. As a country, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Grey Nuns, who cared for so many Irish widows and orphans who were left destitute, impoverished and alone in a strange country.
This virtual archive is a very important project, which allows us to finally acknowledge the generosity and enormous humanity of those wonderful sisters whose great kindness and compassion, during one of the worst moments in our Country’s history, must never be forgotten.