Published May 2019
Don’t be surprised if someone stops you on the street to say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” (Okay, you might be a little surprised.) But it’s true - about 42% of New Brunswickers can trace some component of their heritage to Celtic origins. This includes both francophones and anglophones, with ancestors hailing from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and other parts of the British Isles.
Many immigrants arrived on our shores in search of a new life with fewer hardships in the 19th century. The Irish Potato Famine of 1847, in particular, drove one of the largest waves of immigration in the province’s history. The undeniable spirit and resilience of the Celtic people allowed them to establish strong roots in their adopted home, and the culture is still alive and thriving today. Here are a few ways to immerse yourself in their heritage this summer.
Experience Our Celtic Culture
Gathering of the Scots Festival, May 30 – June 2
Perth-Andover celebrates its Scottish heritage with a jam-packed program of heavyweight and athletic competitions, along with dozens of musical and dance performances. Catch a workshop on bagpiping, drumming or whisky-tasting and don’t miss the traditional ceilidh.
Greater Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival, June 9-15
When was the last time you cheered on a caber toss, wore a kilt to go for a run or danced at a traditional ceilidh? New Brunswick’s Scottish roots are on full display at this festival hosted by the Greater Moncton Scottish Association.
Canada’s Irish Festival on the Miramichi, July 18-21
A true celebration of all things Irish, this festival sees thousands of revelers gather each year to celebrate the region’s roots. Celtic dancing, cultural workshops, family reunions, and - of course - corned beef & cabbage are all part of the festivities.
New Brunswick Highland Games Festival, July 25-28
This festival invites you to be a Scot for a weekend, and we suggest you take them up on it. Held on the beautiful grounds of Fredericton’s Government House, it’s a weekend of full-on Scottish fun. Traditional sporting events, Scottish treats (oh yes, there’s haggis), plus bagpipes, dancing and workshops.
Middle Island Irish Historical Park
This Provincial Heritage Place tells the story of Irish immigrants who were quarantined on the island in the 1800-1900s after fleeing the potato famine. The site hosts an interpretive centre, walking trails, amphitheatre, and Celtic Cross.
Partridge Island Historic Site
Venture out on a guided kayak excursion with River Bay Adventures to explore this abandoned island formerly used as a quarantine station at the entrance to Saint John outer harbour. With its lighthouse, celtic cross, graveyards and Second-World-era ruins, the island is rich in history and offers stunning views of the city and bay.
Celtic Cross Memorial at Indian Point
Overlooking expansive Passamaquoddy Bay, this memorial pays tribute to the Irish immigrants buried on nearby Hospital Island, a quarantine station established in 1832 and dismantled 30 years later.
Founding Cultures Museum
Irish and Scottish cultures might not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of Acadians, but in fact their history is well intertwined. Learn all about it at this museum on the Acadian coast. About 30 minutes away, in Bathurst, is a Celtic Cross monument commemorating the immigrants.
Traditional Irish Pubs
What’s a deep-dive into Celtic culture without a pint at a public house? Head to The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse in Moncton for a Guinness and a chinwag surrounded by the owner’s own Irish artifacts.