Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut will open a new exhibition, Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger, on Wednesday, April 1, in the university’s Arnold Bernhard Library.
The exhibition tells the story of the religious order in Montreal whose members gave selflessly to Irish immigrants during the summer of 1847.
Many thousands of people fled from Ireland during the Great Famine and immigrated to Canada. Famine immigrants to Montreal were not only among the poorest of the poor, but many of them arrived already sick with typhus fever. Despite this, a number of people in the English and French Canadian communities provided the ailing and the dying with shelter and support. In the forefront of this compassionate movement were the Sisters of Charity, also known as the Grey Nuns.
Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac and a professor of history, is presenting the exhibition in collaboration with Jason King, Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Moore Institute at Galway University, and the Arnold Bernhard Library.
Ms. Kinealy said, “The story of the Grey Nuns, and of the other religious orders who helped the dying Irish immigrants, is one of kindness, compassion and true charity. Nonetheless, almost 6,000 Irish immigrants perished in the fever sheds of Montreal. They had fled from famine in Ireland only to die of fever in Canada. This is a remarkable story that deserves to be better known.”
The year-long exhibition will be housed in the Lender Special Collection Room in the Arnold Bernhard Library and will be open to the public from April 1, 2015 to March 18, 2016. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 203-582-2634.
The exhibition will be officially launched at a private event on Tuesday, March 31, by the Canadian Consul General (New York); Quebec Delegate to New England (Boston); and the Irish Consul General (NYC).