North America’s Maritime Funnel

The Ships that Brought the Irish, 1749-1852


Author: Punch, Terrence M.
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 171 pp.
ISBN: 9780806319650


The Maritime Provinces of Canada–New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island–were a convenient destination for tens of thousands of Irish immigrants between 1749 and 1852. Functioning as the narrow end of a funnel through which thousands dispersed widely across the North American continent, the Maritimes offered easy access and cheap fares, beckoning emigrants from Ireland’s catchment areas along the waterways of Dublin, Londonderry, and Cork.

In all, there is documentation on about 1,050 voyages between Ireland and the Maritimes, and in this book Mr. Punch provides a chronological list of the voyages, gives the names of the vessels, their port and date of departure as well as their port of arrival, indicates the number of passengers and sometimes their names and destination, and adds a great variety of information concerning passengers and crew and the voyages themselves.

Supported by a history of Irish emigration, with an account of the economic and social causes of this historic upheaval, the book is built around a year-by-year listing of known voyages between an Irish port and a harbor in the Maritimes, with maps showing the movement of population from specific areas in Ireland to the Maritimes, and tables providing port-by-port statistics. But this is not just a list of the 1,050 voyages from Ireland to Maritime Canada. Scattered throughout the list of voyages are the names of passengers–some gleaned directly from passenger lists, others from related sources such as land records and newspaper accounts that by chance connect passengers to the ships, while in other cases references are given to previously published passenger lists. Only 123 passenger lists of the 1,050 voyages survive, but by dint of groundbreaking research, Mr. Punch has managed to fill in many of the gaps.

To add to the layers of detail, the book further contains several useful appendixes, including: (1) Irish among the Founders of Halifax; (2) Ulster Irish Arrivals before 1773; (3) Irish Emigrant Petitioners for Land in Nova Scotia; and (4) Emigrants in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs, 1830s. These four appendixes alone contain the names of 1,523 people, and the book concludes with a ship index and an index of surnames.

Accolades are due the author of this reference work, Terrence M. Punch, who in 2011 was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada for his outstanding work in genealogy.

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