Global Irish Famine Way in Canada

The Journey of the Bronze Shoes – May 2024

In collaboration with the Marine Institute of Ireland, fifteen Bronze Shoes were taken on board the RV Celtic Explorer in Galway on 1 May. The ship arrived at Pier 12, St John’s Newfoundland and Labrador on 8 May and was welcomed by Ambassador McKee, National Famine Museum Director Caroilin Callery, and Professor Mark McGowan of St Michael’s College. Following this, the Ambassador with accompanying delegation walked the Bronze Shoes to The Rooms were they were displayed to Irish community members, academics, and VIPs including Federal Minister Seamus O’Regan and Provincial Minister John Abbot.

In Canada

The first leg of the Global Irish Famine Way was launched in May 2024 in St John’s Newfoundland and Labrador.

On the morning of 10 May, The Bronze Shoes were carried to St John’s Basilica where a service of commemoration was held, 300 people were in attendance including Ministers O’Regan and Minister Abbot.

After the service of remembrance and gratitude at St John’s Basilica, Bronze Shoes were distributed for installation to Quebec (City and Grosse Íle) Montreal, Ottawa, St John, Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara.

The annual Famine Walk on the National Famine Way this year promoted the Global Irish Famine Way. Walkers included a delegation from Liverpool carrying Bronze Shoes for installation in Liverpool. School groups welcomed the walkers over the six days of the journey. They learned about the Bronze Shoes and the famine relief from Indigenous Wendat, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee as well as settler Canadians, of whom upwards of 80 gave their lives assisting the Famine Irish who arrived off the infamous Coffin Ships in 1847.

As sites around the world are prepared to complete the trail of Bronze Shoes, local chapters of the Global Irish Famine Way are recovering lost stories from the epic journey of the Famine emigrants. The National Famine Museum will host the inaugural GIFW Conference in 2027.

Photo credit: Andrew Downes