Irish-Canadians not fans of St. Patrick's Day, according to survey

Majority agree that Canadians do not have fair understanding of Irish culture

TORONTO, March 14, 2013 /CNW/ - As Canadians toast the Emerald Isle on St Patrick's Day, it might be worth considering that a majority of Canadians with Irish heritage won't be joining them.  A new survey commissioned by Ancestry.ca reveals that 60 per cent of Irish-Canadians do not celebrate the iconic holiday.

The national survey, conducted in March 2013, highlights that more than a quarter of all Canadians, or nearly nine million people in this country, claim to have Irish ancestry. However, more than 60 per cent do not believe that St. Patrick's Day fairly or accurately depicts Irish culture. Further, two-thirds of Canadians with Irish ancestry feel that, in general, people in Canada do not have an accurate understanding of Irish culture.

Given that shamrocks and leprechauns are among the first things to come to mind when one thinks of Ireland, it is little wonder that Irish-Canadians feel that their culture and their contribution to Canada is underappreciated.  Irish-Canadians have been responsible for many important accomplishments in this country since before confederation. Canada's Rideau Canal system, for example, is largely indebted to Irish-Canadian engineering ingenuity. In the 1850s, Irish immigrants helped to build the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway from Portland, Maine to Montreal, uniting Canada's vast and sprawling provinces.

Dr. Abraham Groves was born in Peterborough, Ontario, a child of Irish immigrants who arrived in Canada from Ireland in the early 19th century after facing many obstacles, including the deaths of children and cholera epidemics.  Dr. Groves overcame humble beginnings on a farm in Fergus, Ontario to become a true innovator in the medical world, performing one of the world's first appendectomies and being an early champion for the sterilization of surgical instruments, helping change the face of modern surgery.

The Greening of Sussex Drive…
Among Canada's many celebrity connections to Ireland is the fact that one third of our country's 22 Prime Ministers can boast Irish roots, including Lester B Pearson, Brian Mulroney and Paul Martin. The Irish have also heavily influenced Canadian art, music, theatre and business, among other things.

Our (Irish) Canadian Beer Dynasty...
For those who are going to be celebrating St. Patrick's Day this year perhaps it's time to put the Guinness aside and raise a glass of a good local brew.  Canada brews some of the best beer in the world and we owe that, in part, to one Irishman in particular: John Kinder Labatt. 

Born in 1803 at a place called Mountmellick, right in the middle of Ireland, Labatt made his way to London and in August of 1833 he married 17-year-old Eliza Kell at Southwark Christ Church with the permission of her father. They made their way to Canada soon after and John turned his hand to a number of business ventures here and back in England, whilst Eliza busied herself with their 14 children. By 1855 John had acquired a brewery in London, Ontario and the legend was born. 

She Oughta Know...
Iconic singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, winner of 12 Juno Awards, is very much a Canadian, with her family tree dating back to Quebec in the middle of the 1700s.  But things turn a little green when you hit her third-great grandfather, Foster Armstrong. Born in Ireland around 1805 Armstrong, together with wife Catherine, made his way to Canada in the 1840s, possibly as a result of the Potato Famine - Canada's abundance must have been a welcome relief from the great starvation of their homeland.  Their granddaughter, Noelah McConnell, would go on to marry Joseph Hilarie Morissette (Alanis' great-grandfather) at North Bay, Ontario just over 100 years ago.

"Whether unheralded workers, children of Irish immigrants or famous Irish descendants that went on to promote Canada on the international stage, the Irish have influenced almost every part of Canadian culture," says Lesley Anderson, family history expert for Ancestry.ca. "Given the often times  difficult circumstances under which they left Ireland and the sometimes discriminatory ways in which they were treated upon arrival, it truly is amazing that Irish culture has survived and thrived so strongly."

Canadians looking to discover more about Irish contributions to Canada or discover their potential link to Ireland can visit Ancestry.ca/canadianirish for a 14-day free trial, which includes access to the newly launched Lord Morpeth's Roll, a rare collection of Irish historical records that pre-date the Potato Famine, allowing people to search their Irish ancestors further back in time.

About Ancestry.ca
Ancestry.ca was launched in January 2006 and is part of Ancestry.com, the world's largest online family history resource, with more than 2 million paying subscribers.  More than 11 billion records have been added to the site in the past 17 years. Ancestry users have created more than 45 million family trees containing more than 4 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site www.ancestry.com, Ancestry.com offers several localized websites designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

SOURCE: Ancestry.ca

For further information:

Jeri Brown / Ginger Shewell
Media Profile
416-342-1842 / 416-342-1802
jeri.brown@mediaprofile.comginger.shewell@mediaprofile.com

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