Telling The Stories

Eleanor Reynolds

Award-Winning Author. Teacher. Activist.

Robert James Cromie

Newspaper Publisher


Ellie founded Celtic Canada with her vision of creating a one-stop multimedia social platform for The Celtic Community in Canada. She imagined a site where those of Celtic
descent and interests could not only share their events and stories, their businesses and dreams but also connect with other Celtic ex-pats across Canada.  It would be a resource to service, engage & communicate with the dynamic Canadian Celtic Community to which she belongs.  And it worked! Celtic Canada is the result!
         The inaugural issue was a tremendous success - showcasing an image of Valentia Island. The image is of great significance for the inaugural launch of Celtic Canada as we connect coast to coast to coast. Valentia Island is one of Ireland’s most westerly points lying off the Iverage Peninsula in the south-west of County Kerry. Valentia was the eastern terminus of the first commercially viable transatlantic telegraph cable in 1865 – from Foilhommerum Bay to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland in 1866. 150 years later here we are connecting and opening a new multi-media platform coast to coast to coast.
                                                      Celtic Canada MAGAZINE is a quarterly, high gloss fashion,                                                         lifestyle, culture, travel, politics, sports and entertainment                                                         magazine. It features news from distinguished and diverse                                                        Celtic Canadians offering you a powerful vehicle to click                                                              and connect with the Celts, a forum on a range of political,                                                        economic, social and cultural themes that are of                                                           paramount importance to Canada's Celtic community   connecting expatriates with what is happening and all things related including  arts, culture, fashion, lifestyle, travel, politics & sports.
The ONLINE MAGAZINE can be accessed as a digital flip book format that  brings you closer to what’s happening in arts, culture, fashion, lifestyle, travel, politics, and the sports.  When you subscribe to Celtic Canada’s DIGITAL FLIP BOOK version of the magazine each issue is delivered directly to your inbox – a “Thank You” gift for you joining the local & global community and keeping in touch.. The ONLINE is a brilliant interactive experience where you can readily access, comment and share our content anyway you want.
     The NEWSLETTER is a monthly roundup of the most worthy articles and, if you’re subscribed, featured videos are delivered directly to your inbox so you don’t miss a thing.  You can subscribe online to join the Celtic communities and connect coast to coast at

Catholine Butler
Writer, Sales and Promotion

Maura De Freitas
Managing Editor & Production

 "Kit" Coleman was born in May 1856, to a middle- class                                                               farmer Patrick and Mary (n Burke) Ferguson at                                            Castleblakeney, near Galway Her parents influenced her love of creative activities: her father’s love of books and her mother, who was blind, teaching her to play several musical instruments. The strongest influence was her uncle Thomas Nicholas Burke, a Dominican priest. Burke was a renowned liberal and orator - he taught her tolerance which was an attitude she carried into her journalism.
   She had adopted the name Kathleen Blake and was young when she married wealthy, elderly landowner, Thomas Willis. They had one child who died in early childhood. Willis died soon after and she was disinherited by her husband’s family.
     Kit  moved to Toronto in 1884 and worked as a secretary until she married her boss, Edward Watkins. They had two children. They divorced in 1889. Watkins died shortly after and she turned to housecleaning to support herself and her children
      She began writing articles for magazines and in 1890 pursued journalism. Under the name of Kathleen Blake Watkins, - ‘Kit of the Mail’ – she was the first female journalist to be in charge of her own section of a Canadian newspaper. In the 1890s and early 1900s, she ran a seven-column weekly page in the Toronto Mail, called "Woman's Kingdom" Rebelling against her editors’ assumptions that women were interested only in housekeeping, fashion, and advice she insisted on writing about politics, business, religion, and science. Her outspoken mainstream column attracted a wide following, including Canadian Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier.  Her columns were syndicated to newspapers across Canada. She worked for the Mail until 1911.
She began to write columns covering areas in the mainstream news and soon became one of the Mail's star reporters. In 1891 she interviewed the celebrated French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was performing in Canada. She was a special correspondent for Toronto Mail during the World's Fair, Chicago, 1893; the Mid-winter Fair, San Francisco, 1894; the British West Indies, 1894; and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, London, 1897.  When she volunteered to cover the Spanish-American war in Cuba, the Toronto Mail said yes and after a struggle she received her war correspondent accreditation from the U.S. government, becoming the first accredited woman war correspondent in the world. Her coverage of the aftermath of the war and of its human casualties were the peak of her journalism career. On her way back to Canada, Kit stopped in Washington to address the International Press Union of Women Journalists.
       She married Theobald Coleman and moved to Copper Cliff, Ontario, where Coleman was company doctor for the Canadian Copper Company. In 1901 they  moved to Hamilton, Ontario. In 1904 Kit helped establish the Canadian Women's Press Club, and was named its first President. She contracted pneumonia and died on 16 May 1915..

Pauline Grondin

Recipient of the Halton Heritage Award 

The Burlington Junction Appreciation Award

The Hamilton-Wentworth Hermitage Award


Founders: R- Gerry Regan, L-  Joe Gannon

                                                             Jim Carney’s career began in Vancouver in 1960 as a producer for CBC-TV (CBUT). He moved to Toronto in 1962 as writer/director on network public affairs series such as “Close-Up“, “Horizon“, “Inquiry” and “This Hour Has Seven Days“.
     In 1966 he began a ten-year association with the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal during which he wrote and/or directed a variety of award-winning theatrical shorts, sponsored films and TV documentaries including the “Children of The World” series, a CBC-UNICEF co-production filmed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as development support films for the United States Agency for International Development.
      From 1975 to 1987 Carney worked with the United Nations. In February 1975, on behalf of the National Film Board and the Government of Canada, he was seconded to the United Nations’ Habitat Secretariat in New York as Liaison Producer, to design and implement a program of financial and technical assistance for developing countries in the production of more than two hundred films for the 1976 UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat).
     He was appointed Deputy Director of the United Nations Audio-Visual Information Centre for Human Settlements (Vision Habitat), responsible for the world-wide distribution of the Habitat films, which required the establishment and direction of regional offices and film libraries in appropriate language versions in Amman, Bangkok, Dakar, Geneva, Mexico City and Nairobi. March 1983 through April 1986 he served in Nairobi, Kenya, as Chief, Division of Information, Audio-Visual and Documentation, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements.

    In May 1986 he returned to Vancouver as Commissioner-General of the United Nations Pavilion at Expo ’86. He decided to settle permanently in Vancouver and resume his career in film, TV and media- related consulting.  Subsequently, in addition to developing a number of film and TV projects, he served as Chair of the Film and TV Industry sub-committee of the Asia Pacific Project and as a member of the Board of Directors of the BC Motion Picture Associati.
     For four seasons he hosted  a TV series on the Knowledge Network – “Cross Currents” – presenting one-hour documentaries on a variety of geo-political issues around the world, including the Falkland Islands war, Lebanon, Israel, Africa and the USSR. More recently, he has been associated as writer and editor with the Commonwealth of Learning, an international agency headquartered in Vancouver.
     Jim Carney’s films have won a number of Canadian and international awards at festivals in San Francisco, Tokyo, Monte Carlo, Rome, Columbus, Buenos Aires, Brisbane, Cracow, Prague, Venice and Montreal. In 1987, he received a World Environment Festival Award for his work in public information in the field of human settlements.
     In 1995 he received the United Nations Association/Canada Medal of Honour, for having made “an exceptional contribution by a Canadian at the international level and related to the United Nations System”. In 2002, he received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his work as a communications consultant with  the B.C. and Yukon Command of The Royal Canadian Legion. Jim Carney holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of British Columbia, followed by graduate courses in international development at UBC, and studies in film and television at Stanford University, Califo

The Wild Geese was established in the fall of 1997 as an online magazine to share "The Epic History and Heritage of the Irish" with the tens of millions of individuals of Irish ancestry found world-wide. Hundreds of individuals from around the Irish Diaspora, of varied viewpoints and religions, have contributed and continue to contribute to the reach & depth of its content.   Launched in March 2013, draws nearly 30,000 visitors , more  than 60,000 page-views per month and is growing steadily.            

This social network is a leading Internet destination to explore and celebrate Irish history and heritage - in William Butler Yeats words: 'wherever green is worn.'

                                                           Having sold 2.5 million copies of her last novel 'Room'                                                               Donoghue geared up for the international release of  

                                                           her latest novel w to a much wider audience.
Quoted in the Irish voice: "My kids were asking me the other day, ‘Are you famous?’ And I was saying, ‘Well, listen, imagine Miley Cyrus, that’s really famous – well I’m like a pebble under her shoe, you know?’ My fame is not so great as to be burdensome, put it that way. I might have someone talk to me at the supermarket, but it’s all quite manageable.”
     Her family has an academic background. Her father, Denis Donoghue, is one of the most respected literary critics in the world.
    London, Ontario was an unusual place for an Irish person to fetch up in the end, and Donoghue said,
“I do find myself occasionally dreaming of Tayto crisp, I didn’t make a fuss about them when I was there.[Ireland] It’s like traditional music. I had no time for ballads at home, but when I left I discovered I’d memorized the words to ‘Danny Boy.  Emigration brings out these new traits in you. When I go to Ireland now I bring back a sack of 20 Tayto bags and my kids rip them out of my hands.”
     Donoghue met her partner Chris at Cambridge University where she studied for eight years for her Ph.D.  Moving to Canada with the woman she describes as the love of her life made her wonder if she’d be forgotten about in Ireland, where her literary talent was first acknowledged. 
"I wanted to do a Ph.D, but not in a subject that my dad was a specialist in.          I went to Cambridge to do English literature, then fell for Chris and ended up in Canada.”
  "It wasn’t that my career forced me out of Ireland.  I just happened to end up out of Ireland.     I would have thought I would have been forgotten about there, but it seems I have a strong following who think of me as an Irish writer.”

 The 1968 GG for Poetry may have made Nowlan the only                                                         

Canadian writer with less than a grade 5 education to

 achieve such prestige.
     He was born in poverty, 25 January 1933, at Stanley, Nova Scotia. His father, Freeman, was an alcoholic. His mother, Grace, was 15 years of age. She left her husband taking her children, Alden and his younger sister, to her mother’s home. When her mother died, 1940, Grace was unable to provide a home for the children and Alden was separated from her for the rest of his life. He was then raised by his grandmother, Emma, and his father, Freeman.
     His father, born in 1904, had left school at 14 to work in the sawmill. In an interview Alden said,
"never in his life had a permanent year-round job... never owned or learned to drive a car."    His father improvised stories while pretending to read to his son and made pencil sketches,            "… all the storytelling and sketches ended before I was six years old. He was ashamed of    both, because in his world grown men didn’t draw and make up stories."
     Nowlan began writing poetry in 1944. A bookish, gangly 12 year old when he dropped out   of school, he was a peer-group target, the descendant of disposed peasants ‘wild Celtic brigands.’ In his first auto-bio-critical essay, he wrote:
“I couldn't help being a part of my race.  A race that continued to be tough. It was possible for me to accept myself, finally, only when I  realized - emotionally - that poetry is tough too, that a poem can contain as much fury and power   as a fist or a blackjack. It still seems to me that the greatest wonder of poetry is that it combines toughness with the tenderness of love, and the one is impossible without the other.” At age 13 reading Guy de Maupassant’s stories he realized that people did write about people like his family and village.
     He was 14 years of age when his grandmother died. Suffering from anemia & depression, Alden was admitted for several months to the Nova Scotia Hospital for the mentally ill. As the staff encouraged him to study and write, he learned to accept himself.  When he was 17, working-class D.H. Lawrence, became his hero and his writing evolved from letters-to-the-

editor to poetry. After few stints as farmhand, highway worker and sawmill night-watch, he  began writing a book and a newspaper column. He attended a folk-art school and left home to work as a reporter for a weekly newspaper.  Published widely in US literary magazines. he was recognized as one of the most promising new poets of the century he said of himself, "Off hand the only North American writers I can think of who have come from a background of rural poverty and gone on to write about it have been Negroes. Richard Wright, for instance."
      In 1961, a Canada Council grant allowed him to write his first novel and, in 1963, on the eve of leaving for an editorial position with the daily newspapers in Saint John, he achieved a personal goal: he married Claudine Orser and adopted her nine-year-old son, John – at last he was the father of his own family. In 1966, adjustment to family life, urban living and editorial duties were  interrupted by surgeries and recovery from cancer of the thyroid.
     His literary family grew freeing him from the demands of journalism. He was awarded the Canada Council (special grant 1967), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation 1967 fellowship, the Governor General’s Award and the U of New Brunswick writer-in-residence appointment (1968)  During his 15 years as writer-in-residence the Nowlans became public figures. Alden was surrounded by young people and Claudine worked at the Pre-School Centre on the edge of the campus. He averaged more than a book per year including six new volumes of poetry including Canadian Authors' Association Silver Medal winning Smoked Glass (1977); 2 books of selected poems; 4 plays; 3 works of fiction including a memoir; an excerpt winning the University of Western Ontario’s President’s Medal for Fiction, 1970; and one volume each of history and selected essays winning the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Literary Trust Award.
      His achievements recognized with Honorary Doctorates of Letters from the UNB 1971, and Dalhousie University 1976 and in 1979 he was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.  
       Nowlan’s courage and honesty, speaking truly about and for the poor, was profound in a culture when many writers choose to treat poetry as a sign of the privileged life. 

From his last collection:     So that I could                                                                        

                                            change a spade into a pen,
                                            our ancestors suffered together with their oxen,
                                            and gathered the sweat of a hundred years to give me ink.

In 1983, his 50th year, Alden Nowlan died from complications following pneumonia. It was written of him: Nations cannot possess and hold great writers. Their work grows, like Alden's, long after we have stopped on the hill to visit the grave of "An O Nuallin Mor," or The Big Nowlan, as his ancestral clan chief was called in the days of old, of Irish heroes.

scroll down for



stories and links      

Dr. Rosemary Sullivan, O.C. FRSC.

Emma Donoghue

Award winning Irish Canadian author.


 Catherine was born on 12 Nov. 1876, in County Line, Prince

Edward Island, daughter of John Wellington (a merchant) and

Annie Laurie (O’Brien) Hughes. She was second youngest of nine children in a close-   knit middle-class family. Educated in Charlottetown at Notre Dame Convent and at Prince of Wales College she graduated with a first-class teacher’s license in 1892. In       the summer of 1899 she was employed as teacher at the Mohawk reserve of St-Régis (Akwesasne). 2 years later she launched the Catholic Indian Association, which sought    to find employment outside reserves for graduates of Indian schools, reflecting contemporary attitudes to assimilate them..
     In 1902, she had already established a modest reputation as a writer, in Catholic World and the Prince Edward Island Magazine, drawing on experiences amongst the First Nations. She contributed to John Castell Hopkins’s Canada, an encyclopaedia of   the country. Employed by the Montreal Daily Star, 1903-1906, she joined Kit Coleman and other women journalists travelling by train to the world fair at St Louis, and was a founding member of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.
     She published her first book in 1906 and moved to Edmonton as a journalist on     the Edmonton Bulletin, where her duties included reporting on sessions of Alberta legislature. Appointed first provincial archivist of Alberta in May 1908, she set about developing the Bureau of Archives. Seconded in 1909 to the premier’s office, she    served as private secretary. She renewed her acquaintance and agreed to write Fr. Lacombe,
the black-robe voyageur, his biography that was published in Toronto and   New York to critical acclaim in 1911.
     To assist newly arrived Catholic immigrants, especially those from eastern Europe, she established the Catholic Women’s League of Edmonton in 1912 . A successful political insider in the era before women’s suffrage, in 1913 she transferred to London, England, to a position as assistant and secretary in the office of the agent general for Alberta. There she met the political separatist movement. She travelled to Ireland in 1914 and there, in her official capacity, met with the lord lieutenant of Ireland and, in a private capacity attended the annual week-long cultural festival of the Gaelic League. in Killarney. She set about learning the Irish language, studied Irish history and literature, commenced an in-depth examination of the economic advantages of independence to Ireland. Thus was
Caitlín Ní Aodha, as she then called herself, transformed from a loyal Canadian public servant to a committed supporter of Irish cultural renewal and separation from Britain.   In 1915 with writing agreements in hand, she returned to Canada – not lessening her commitment to Ireland. The Easter rising  n 1916, and the subsequent execution of its leaders caused her to increase her involvement in efforts for Irish independence. Frequently citing the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers on the battlefields of Europe on behalf of the liberation and rights of small nations, Hughes presented a carefully reasoned case for Irish self-determination in her 1917 mono-graph Ireland (Kingston, Ont.). In wartime Canada others viewed her championing of Irish independence as treason towards the British Empire.
     A devotee of de Valera, she avoided much of the controversy returning to Canada

in 1920 to mobilize Irish Canadians - under the watchful eye of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In July 1920 she began a tour from the Maritimes to the Pacific, back

to Atlantic Canada and the Dominion of Newfoundland, establishing branches of the Self-Determination for Ireland League in major urban centres. Well received in eastern and central Canada, she attracted the attention of opponents in the west. Following a national convention in October, at de Valera’s urging, she travelled to Australia and New Zealand to set up sister organizations. 
Hughes returned to North America in April 1922 marked as an agitator for whom Canada offered no future. She remained loyal to the ideal of a fully independent Irish republic. She moved to New York where she died of cancer in 1925 and is buried in an unmarked grave at St Raymond’s cemetery in the Bronx. The discovery of her ancestral homeland was a both reasoned and passionate pledge to Ireland.

George McWhirter

Vancouver's First Poet Laureate

Life member of the League of Canadian Poets

First Commonwealth Poetry Prize Winner                    

Launched  by Catholine Butler and Maura De Freitas,  1

1991, the Celtic Connection,  Vancouver-based monthly newspaper, now serves over 35,000 Celts across Western Canada and Northwestern United States. It is Canada’s only newspaper which unifies all Celtic people under one banner with a focus on music, theatre, movies, interviews, current events and Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh community news.
      The mother-daughter team has worked tirelessly to help forge cultural alliances under the banner of The Celtic Connection newspaper: Maura is responsible for all aspects of editing and production while Catholine writes and handles sales and promotions for the newspaper.
      Catholine (formerly Elaine Gannon/McCay), was born on January 16, 1934, in Martindale, Quebec. Hers is a familiar face to many in the Celtic world and she has received numerous awards recognizing her work and contributions to help promote the highest aspirations of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English culture. She is widely recognized as one of the leading voices and most influential people in Celtic communities across western North America. In her monthly columns she has profiled countless individuals and interviewed a wide range of public figures giving voice to various Celtic communities and organizations.
     For over 26 years, Catholine’s tireless work has resulted in an historical archive of the Irish. An online archive digitization project is underway through Simon Fraser University Library.   Before partnering with her daughter, Catholine was regional and public relations manager for a high-end retail chain with branches in Alberta – which required an annual buying trip to Ireland to attend trade shows.
   1965–1970, Catholine was a founding member of Club
Tír na nÓg, an Irish social club based in Ottawa, with over 2,500 members, presented monthly dances featuring  Irish showbands, produced a newsletter for members & arranged cultural tours of Ireland.
     From 1970 -1980, as owner of the Irish Entertainment Agency in Ottawa, Catholine managed numerous Irish bands , booked tours across North America, arranged radio and television promotion across North America, handled all aspects of Immigration Canada work permits for Irish groups to travel to Canada. Many renowned Irish entertainers found their North American start through the Irish Entertainment Agency.
     During the same period, she was part-owner of Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub with her first husband Tom McCay (born in Strabane, Co. Tyrone) Molly Maguire’s was the first authentic Irish pub in Ottawa.It featured live traditional Irish music and was wildly successful with a reputation for craic and great entertainment. Politicians and famous names rubbed shoulders with construction workers and the average citizen as everyone soaked up the atmosphere and let down their hair. There were long line-ups every night at the door and many new Irish arrivals in Canada found a warm welcome along with employment at Molly Maguire’s. Later, Catholine was also part-owner of Elaine’s Irish Pub in Ottawa/
     1981 -1983, Catholine hosted a radio show also called Celtic Time in Edmonton, Alberta, broadcast on CKER Radio, the Alberta multi-cultural radio station.
     1983-1984, she hosted her own television show, Celtic Time, in Calgary, Alberta creating and hosting a weekly one hour program on Rogers Cable with this show. She presented an annual St. Patrick’s Day showcase featuring a fashion show and local Irish entertainers and interviewed many local and international Irish personalities.
     Catholine was a founding member of
Club Tír na nÓg, an Irish social club based in Ottawa, with over 2,500 members from 1965 -1970, presenting monthly dances, top Irish show-bands, a newsletter for members and arranged cultural tours of Ireland.
Catholine [then known as Elaine McCay] was also tPresident of the Carlton Showband Fan Club of Ottawa, responsible for publicity and arranging fan club information.
     Catholine’s second husband the late Tom Butler, born in Kilmaine, Co. Mayo, also played a significant role in the development of many Irish groups and organizations in British Columbia in particular, to Ireland's national games of Gaelic football and hurling in the Pacific Northwest. In 2008 his work was recognized and the Gaelic Athletic Association's pre-eminent championship awards in men's Gaelic football in Western Canada was named the Tom Butler award.
     Vancouver Irish Sporting and Social Club also recognized the work of Catholine Butler, presenting her with the Lifetime Achievement Award of 2008 at their annual banquet. Catholine’s work was also recognized by the Irish Women’s Network of BC when she was presented with the Irish Woman of the Year Award in 2006.
 Catholine has also studied Irish language, folklore, song and dance at the University  of Ottawa and attended summer school in Anagray, Co. Donegal, Ireland.  She will always be remembered as the voice at the end of the telephone for countless Irish people seeking support and assistance over the past 20 years. Her presence and willingness to help will be attested by leaders in all the various Irish organizations across western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.             
Despite her advancing age, she has no intention of retiring and remains a vital presence in Irish communities across western Canada & the U.S. Pacific Northwest through her work with The Celtic Connection newspaper.                                                
​   follow celtic-connection.com online

                                            Born September 26, 1939, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 

                                            McWhirter is a writer, translator, editor and Vancouver's 

                                            First Poet Laureate.
                                            Son of a shipyard worker, he was raised in a large extended family on Shankill Road in Belfast. He and his extended family spent the war years and then weekends and the summers at their seaside bungalow in Carnalea, now a suburb of Bangor, County Down. In 1957 he began a “combined scholarship” studying English and Spanish at Queen’s University and Education at Stranmillis College, Belfast. His tutor at Queen’s was the poet Laurence Lerner, and he was a classmate with future literary critic Robert Dunbar and poets Seamus Heaney and Seamus Deane. After graduating, McWhirter taught in Kilkeel and Bangor, County Down, and in Barcelona, Spain, before moving to Port Alberni, B.C. Canada.  He received his Master of Arts at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and stayed on to become a Full Professor, 1982, and Head of the Creative Writing Department from 1983 to 1993. He retired as a Professor Emeritus in 2005.
George was associated with PRISM international magazine from 1968 to 2005. He is author and editor of numerous books and recipient of many awards. His first book of poetry, Catalan Poems, was a joint winner of the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize.  Made a life member of the League of Canadian Poets in 2005. He is also member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and PEN International. In March 2007, he was named Vancouver’s inaugural Poet Laureate for a 2-year term. He currently writes full-time and lives in Vancouver with his wife. They have two children and three grandchildren.

Marianna O'Gallagher

Irish Quebec Historian.                                      Order of Quebec. Order of Canada. 

Alden Nowlan

Poet. Journalist. Novelist.

UNB Writer in Residence 1968 - 1983

Governor General's Award for Poetry 1968    

             Katherine Angelina Hughes   Canadian Women’s Press Club founding member
teacher, journalist, public servant, author,

Irish political activist


                                                         In 2009 the Society asked Marianna for permission to                                                           include her name on the Ireland Canada Monument. She declined and recommended that her grandfather, Jeremiah O’Gallagher from County Cork, be recognized for his efforts to complete the AOH Celtic Cross at Grosse Ile in memory of the 6500+ Irish that died on the island 1845-48.
      On the cross designed by her grandfather, Marianna commented: "He drew the design on the wall of the kitchen at 13 Conroy St. in Quebec City. My father said as more and more money came in, the monument grew in size and stature on the wall." The Celtic cross was erected on Grosse Isle in 1909 by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The twelve-meter monument is the largest Celtic cross in North America. The original Grosse Ile cross was damaged during a storm late 1940’s. Marianna’s father, Dermot and Dr. Larkin Kerwin worked on the repairs which left one stone over. Dr. Larkin gave the stone to Marianna who asked the Society to include it in the completed Ireland Canada Monument. The stone was transferred by Ambassador Declan Kelly to Archbishop J. Michael Miller CSV at a Transfer of the Stone ceremony held at Place des Arts Coquitlam, Oct. 5, 2009. And so it is that this unexpected gift and historic treasure travelled from East to West, bearing the memory with it, to be installed on the ICM monument that they will not be forgotten.

Marianna was born in Sainte-Foy, in 1929, one of six siblings born to Norma (O'Neil) and Dermot O'Gallagher. Her father was a land surveyor and previous mayor of the city now merged into Quebec City). She entered the Sisters of Charity of Halifax in 1952 and taught in Nova Scotia and New England, before she settled back in Quebec City, where she taught for 25 years at St. Patrick's High School. She earned a Bachelor's degree in History from Halifax's Mount St. Vincent University and a Master's degree from the University of Ottawa, Her thesis was about Quebec City's St. Patrick's Church and her interest in Irish-Quebecer history would continue for her whole life.
      In 1973, the Federal government, who owned it since its establishment as the quarantine station, allowed O'Gallagher to visit Grosse Isle, which she found in a state of disrepair. This marked the beginning of her efforts to have the site federally recognized. She founded Irish Heritage Quebec the same year, an organization dedicated to the local promotion of Irish-Canadian history. She remained president of Irish Heritage Quebec until 2009.
    The 1980s she left the religious order, founded bilingual publisher Carraig Books’ and started a committee for the designation of Grosse Isle resulting in the 1984 designation of the island as an historic site and, in 1988, to that of National Historic Site of Canada.
     O'Gallagher spent the rest of her life writing books and articles on Irish-Canadian history, for which she became a major figure in the Canadian Irish studies community. She was the recipient of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association's G. E. Clerk Award in 1999, the Order of Quebec in 1998, and the Order of Canada in 2002. She was repeatedly included in Irish America's Global 100 lists, and was a member of the organizing committee for Quebec City's 2008 400th anniversary celebrations. A few months before her death, May 2, 2010, she had been Grand Marshal to Quebec City's first Saint Patrick's Days parade in 80 years and, only days before her death, the Canadian Association for Irish Studies had established an annual lecture named after her.
       The following speech was delivered in the Canadian Senate by Senator Dennis Dawson a week after Marianna died. “…yesterday the Irish community of Quebec City, Quebec and, indeed, all of Canada laid to rest a great contributor to the Irish heritage of our country … (she) deserves, by far, the title of “the greatest Irish Canadian of Quebec City. … Her writings encouraged many to study the history of the Irish in Canada. Her work in the research and promotion of the Irish culture in Canada was recognized and respected not only in Quebec and Canada but also in Ireland.”

Daughter of Irish immigrants to Canada, Lena Louise

had her sights set on the faculty of medicine but was

rejected because of her gender. She soon married

James Wallace Forbes, son of Scottish immigrants, ,                                                          and  a fellow grad. They raised four children and                                                              settled in Toronto.  James fought with a Canadian                                                             Highland regiment in WWI, was promoted to colonel, wounded and decorated. He suffered the after-effects of gas attacks for the rest of his life. Lena and James were devoted to one another all their lives, and Lena died peacefully only a few months after James. Her doctor comforted Lena’s daughters. “Nothing morbid about it. Perhaps it’s just the Irish way.”
Red-headed Lena was an intelligent, imaginative, strong-willed woman who wrote stories of the little people for her grandson in Winnipeg and was the first woman to be published in a Canadian magazine, as her daughter Pauline was fond of recounting!
They were not wealthy, but Lena was an Edwardian lady, at home on horseback and presiding over tea. Her eldest daughter spoke with pride of dancing with the Prince of Wales at a Toronto reception, which she attended with her parents.  Lena  was active all her life.  She had a sharp wit and little tolerance for whining.  As a young granddaughter discovered during a visit with “Lailie”, Lena kept her red locks for most of her life. “Don’t tell your mother I dye my hair, dear.”  Lena Louise (Rowe) Forbes was a talented Irish Canadian who would have been hard to forget!!

John James Carney 

Producer. Broadcaster.  Communications Consultant

United Nations Association/Canada Medal of Honour

Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal


      Pauline Grondin is “multiheretorial”, a professional

storyteller, heritage performer, historical interpreter

and musician who has been telling stories and making music all of her life to listeners from the age of 2 to 102.
     She is the recipient of the Halton Heritage Award, the Burlington Junction Appreciation Award and the Hamilton-Wentworth Heritage Award. 

     Her stories and music have been recorded for Route 1812, a driving route linking historical sites and cultural institutions in Southwestern Ontario, Toronto and the Niagara regions. 
     Pauline is a tenth generation French Canadian with an Irish citizenship. Her father’s family arrived in Canada from France in 1667.  Her mother arrived here with her family from Ireland in 1921.  Following her dual roots, her storytelling has delighted audiences of all ages in Canada, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.
     Pauline is the social historian for the Southwest Ontario Barn Quilt trail.
     She has recorded four CD’s telling stories of Canadian pioneer women, “Voices of the Past”, “Voices of the Past Two”, “Voices of Toronto’s Past” and “Stories of Women in Upper Canada during the War of 1812”.

     Pauline has also written a number of children’s history books and stories for the young at heart and recorded one C D entitled 8 Wonderful Bedtime Stories dedicated to her grandson Kellen.     

                                          Rosemary was born in the town of Valois on Lac St. Louis,

                                          near Montreal. Her paternal grandfather had arrived from                                            Ireland ca 1916 and settled on a farm in Smiths Falls, Ont.
                                          In 1972, with a PhD, she headed to France to teach, first at the University of Dijon  then the University of Bordeaux. She returned to Canada in 1974 to teach at the University of Victoria, She moved on to teach at University of Toronto where she and her husband, Chilean actor-musician Juan Opitz, now live  

  In 1978, after taking leave to devote herself to writing, Rosemary lived in London, England. On her return she joined Amnesty International and founded the Toronto Arts Group for Human Rights and both conceived and organized an International Congress called The Writer and Human Rights in aid of Amnesty International. Seventy writers from forty countries attended.  
      Rosemary joined the editorial board of This Magazine, in 1982. She wrote articles about her travels to Latin America. Her first collection of poems, The Space a Name Makes (1986) won the Gerald Lampert Award for the Best First Book of Poet   In 1987, commissioned by Penguin Books to write a biography Rosemary wrote a trilogy about the creative lives of women artists: Elizabeth Smart, By Heart, was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for non-fiction;  Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen, published in 1995, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction, The Canadian Authors’ Association Prize for Non-fiction, the University of British Columbia President’s Medal for Canadian Biography, The City of Toronto Book Prize, 1996, and short-listed for the Ont. Trillium Prize. The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out was published in 1998.
      At the U of T, Rosemary was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Literature, and in 2003, founded the new MA program in English in the field of Creative Writing. From 2003-06, she held the Maclean Hunter Chair in Literary Journalism at the Banff Centre. Following 4 years of intense research, in 2006 she published Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape,. A House in Marseille   In June 2007, Villa Air-Bel was awarded The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Award in Holocaust History by the Helen and Stan Vine Annual Canadian Jewish Book Awards.
      Her family memoir, The Guthrie Road, tracing her Irish ancestry back to 1847, was published  Rosemary is a Fellow of the prestigious Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and was awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal for Major Contributions to Canadian Literature and Culture by the Royal Society of Canada in 2008.

O'Leary was born on Irishtown Road in Percé, in theGaspé, Quebec

February 19, 1888.  He became one of the most notable Canadian

newspapermen in history.  He left school at the age of 12 and for the

next nine years worked in lumberyards and in a brewery. Unwavering                                   in his desire to learn, with the help of the Bishop of Gaspe, he educated himself at home. He was two years at sea before entering journalism with the St. John Standard. His first    big scoop was nterviewing the survivors of the Titanic on their arrival in New York.

     In 1911 O'Leary joined Ottawa's press gallery representing the Ottawa Journal he was   a member of the .Parliamentary Press Gallery for more than 20 years.

     He was close to most Conservative Party leaders. PM Arthur Meighen took him along   to the 1921 Imperial Conference, and O'Leary repaid the favour by standing as Gaspé's candidate in 1925, though unsuccessfully. O'Leary also supported Liberal ministers, such as C.D. Howe, in columns and editorials. He eventually became editor of the Journal,        which earned a reputation for high literary standards and good reporting. In 1961   O'Leary headed the Royal Commission on Publications, and in 1962 PM John     Diefenbaker appointed him to the Senate in 1962
    At the height of his career, O'Leary wrote two or three editorials daily, cabled stories     to The Times in London, handled a political column for MacLeans and broadcasts for    CBC and private stations. He attended imperial & international conferences in London, Washingtoncs, and Canberra, and was at the Potsdam Conference in 1945.  He served     as the Rector of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in 1968 but was forced to resign under student pressure.
    He died in Ottawa on April 7, 1976.  Two books - The Journal Men: (3 great Canadian newspapermen and the tradition they created) are still available.

Internationally acclaimed author of seven award-winning novels, three books of poetry and numerous short stories, was born June 21, 1949, in Little Longlac, a small mining town in northern Ontario. Her father, mining engineer Walter Andrew Carter and her mother, Marian Quinn. Jane had six brothers, she was the youngest and only daughter. The family’s heritage made a lasting impact on her writing. Her mother’s Irish ancestors were immigrants to Canada during he 19th century potato blight and Great Hunger. Both parents had witnessed the trials of World War One and World War Two. Her childhood was filled with stories of Ireland and settlement in Canada. At that time Canada was a British colony, very little was taught of Canadian history - Urquhat's interest was quickened as she went on to the University of Guelph for a BA in English followed by a BA in art history.
     In 1968 she married Paul Keele who was then a student and Urquahart worked as an assistant to the information officer for the Royal Canadian Navy. Tragically, Keele died in an accident in 1973.  In 1976, Urquhart married the Canadian visual artist Tony Urquhart. With a busy family life, their daughter born in 1977, Jane developed her daily writing schedule. An Irish-style cottage in McGillicuddy Reeks became her writing retreat from 1996 to 2013. She and her husband now reside in SE Ontario.
     Her internationally acclaimed novels include: The Whirlpool, the first Canadian book to win France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur livre etranger (Best Foreign Book Award); Changing Heaven; Away, winner of the Trillium Award and a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Underpainter, winner of the Governor General’s Award and a finalist for the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; The Stone Carvers, was a finalist for the Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award and Britain’s Booker Prize; A Map of Glass, a finalist for a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, and Sanctuary Line, a finalist for the Giller Prize, she has received the Marian Engel Award and the Harbourfront Festival Prize, and is a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. She has been granted numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and has given readings and lectures and she has served on several international prize juries. Her books have been published in many countries, including Holland, France, Germany, Britain, Scandinavia, Australia, and the U.S. and translated into several languages.
      Urquhart has twice been a keynote speaker at the annual Canadian Congress of the Humanities, and has served on the Board of PEN Canada and on the Advisory Board for the Restoration of the Vimy Memorial.

An outstanding turn-of-the-century writer,  born in Montreal on                                   Christmas Eve, 1879.  His father, David Nelligan, was a French

Canadian, musically talented and a devout Catholic  qualities that                                 drew the French and Irish together during the most troubling times they shared. Except for summer vacations with his family in the village of Cacouna in the Gaspé peninsula, and a short trip to Europe, Nelligan spent his entire life in Montreal.
       His academic career was undistinguished. In 1897, against his parents’ wishes, he abandoned his studies to pursue his poetry. He was actively writing verses and could envision no other profession for himself.  In 1896, he met his mentor and future editor, the priest Eugène Seers (later called Louis Dantin) and Joseph Melançon, who introduced him to the literary circles of Montreal. Under the pseudonym Émile Kovar, he published his first poem in June, 1896. By September eight more of his poems had appeared in local papers and journals By 1897, poems appeared for the first time in Le Monde Illustré and La Patrie under his real name, which was sometimes modified to "Nellighan" or "Nelighan".  He joined the recently founded École Littéraire de Montréal, a circle of young writers and intellectuals who met weekly to discuss the arts.  In 1898, his father sent him on a sea voyage to Liverpool and Belfast and later that year, his father arranged employment for him as a bookkeeper. These positions came to naught as he continued to publish his poems in local papers and journals and public readings to which the audience responded with a resounding ovation. A short time later he was confined to  St-Benoît asylum where he remained until his death in 1941. 

     His work comprises some 170 poems, sonnets, rondels, songs and prose poems. Astonishingly,all written when he was between the ages of 16 and 19. In 1904, thanks to the diligence of his friend Louis Dantin and with his mother’s help, 107 poems were published in Émile Nelligan et son oeuvre with a preface by Dantin. Three subsequent editions were published with poems that had been sent to friends or found among his papers. This edition has been reprinted several times, most recently in 1989.  Émile Nelligan was a pioneer of French-Canadian literature. In his poetry, he threw off the time-worn subjects of patriotism and fidelity to the land that had so occupied his literary predecessors, and explored the symbolic possibilities of language and his own, dark, inner landscape.

Émile Nelligan

  Ushered poetry into the modern age.

Pioneer of French-Canadian Literature

Lena Louise (Rowe) Forbes 

Graduate Mount Allison University, 

Moncton New Brunswick, 1900 

First woman  published in a Canadian magazine


AUTHORS.  JOURNALISTS.  POETS.                                                               The Irish have always had a way with words

Francis Collins
Upper Canada Journalist, founder of the Canadian Freeman
Advocate for Responsible Government                                                                                  

Collins, was born at Newry, County Down, Ireland, in 1801 and educated in the Irish schools.  The increasing emigration of the Irish to Upper Canada was an inspiration   and he set sail for the town of York (Toronto) about 1820. He secured a position as    a printer with the Upper Canada Gazette where  he  learned about politics for 5

years, as the first official stenographer to report the proceedings and speeches of

the Legislature of Upper Canada.
    At 24 years of age, he founded his own weekly ‘The Canadian Freeman’. His front page motto was
Fiat justitia runt caelumLet justice be done though the heavens fall. It was a statement that revealed his violent opposition to the “Family Compact” (a term used by historians for a small closed group of men who exercised most of the political, economic and judicial power in Upper Canada ( Ontario) from the 1810s to the 1840s. It was the Upper Canadian equivalent of the Château Clique in Lower Canada) His opposition and bold statements in the Freeman would cost him a lengthy and painful imprisonment, but he persisted. His story, his struggle for Responsible Government in Upper Canada; his imprisonment for supposed libel is a tragic story of the discrimination of the time.   But, there was love and success for the resilient Irish. In 1896 Lord Russell of Killowen Newry, County Down, and Chief Justice of England, visited Canada. Also present was a young woman of his family, Ann Moore, who was there reunited with Collins. Their marriage was blessed with four children - Mary, Francis, Margaret and Frances Liberta.
     Collins died from Cholera at the age of 33 years. He had been a successful businessman and left his orphaned children supported. Moreover, his ideal of civil government had finally triumphed. The political liberty, free institutions, and priceless boon of responsible government Canada enjoys today is largely owed to Francis Collins and others like him who suffered and struggled in the first half of the 19th century that we might live as free men and women. That change would be realized three years after Collins' untimely death, through the tragedy of bloody rebellion.

Jane Urquhart

Order of Canada

winner of France's  Prix du Meilleur livre etranger (Best Foreign Book Award), Governor General's Award ...

Mission: Every day, with our team of members, readers and Irish Heritage Partners,   The Wild Geese explores, promotes, preserves and celebrates  the epic heritage of  the Irish around the world — through compelling content, evolving technologies, a dynamic community, and collaborative marketing connections.
Vision: The Wild Geese inspires generations, new and old, to understand the out-sized role of the Irish and Irish emigrants in the world’s

evolution, while rejoicing in a common humanity.

We cherish our mission — holding it sacred in a world of

shifting values, rising cynicism,  materialism, blurred

geopolitical identities, and rapid-fire technological change .                              

Robert James, son of Henry James Cromie of Ireland and                                                             Sarah Ann Guy of Australia, was born in July 1887 in

Scotstown, Quebec.  He married Bernadette Grace Mcfeely in Vancouver, they had 4 sons and one daughter.
     Educated in public schools in the Eastern Townships, Cromie travelled to Winnipeg as a teenager and after holding a variety of jobs and taking business classes at night school, was hired in 1907 as a personal secretary at was one of the largest railway-construction companies in North America.  In 1917, in a bid to wield political influence in the provincial election, his employer took control of a bankrupt Liberal newspaper, the Vancouver Daily Sun, and put Cromie in charge. He turned out to have a natural genius for the business and soon acquired the paper. Dropping the evening edition, he began publishing in the morning. The paper’s readership jumped from 10,000 to 17,000, and less than a year later, its Sunday edition was selling more than 25,000 copies.
     In 1924 Cromie purchased the Vancouver Daily World, converted it to the Vancouver Evening Sun with circulation reaching 50,000 on Sundays in less than a decade.
     He was a keen fan of all sports, a health enthusiast, and one of Vancouver’s first joggers. He had visited Japan, China, and India in 1929, attended the World Monetary and Economic Conference in London in 1933, toured Russia by airplane later the same year, and journeyed through the Canadian Arctic by  boat and bush plane in 1934. He observed carefully, and wrote and lectured on his findings.
     He died suddenly 11 May 1936 in Oak Bay, B.C., of a cardiovascular ailment. He was 48. His widow briefly succeeded him as president and publisher of the Sun, but it was  his son Donald that displaces the Province as the leading newspaper in British Columbia and become the largest metropolitan daily issued west of Toronto.

Kathleen "Kit" Blake Coleman

Writer. Poet.

The world's first accredited female war correspondent

First President of the Canadian Women's Press Club

Fran Reddy, Biz Dev Co-ordinator

Michael Grattan O'Leary 

Journalist. Editor. Senator.