MONTRÉAL, June 13, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - Fleeing the Great Famine of 1847 and seeking refuge in Montréal, 6,000 Irish lost their lives on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. It is historically accepted that these victims were buried in Montréal's southwest borough, near the Black Rock.
Since the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) will be working in close proximity to the site in the coming weeks, the Irish community was invited to gather for a ceremony on June 12th at 7pm, organized by representatives of the Irish community and the REM project office, to bless the land. The evening was a rare and important opportunity to attest to the rich history of Montréal's Irish community. An interfaith religious service gathered high-level representatives from various denominations.
Close collaboration, desire to preserve history
In recent months, a committee, composed of five representatives from Montréal's Irish community, was asked to raise the REM project office team members' awareness, and to coordinate REM's upcoming work in the Black Rock sector.
"We would like to highlight the cooperation, open-mindedness and respect shown by the REM project office, Hydro-Québec and the City of Montréal. Throughout this entire process, we felt that the partners did their best to keep disruption at the site to a minimum, while preserving the history of Montréal's Irish community," underlined Victor P. Boyle, National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Canada and director of Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation.
"As we build the REM, our desire is to integrate this new transit network within each of the communities we encounter. In the Pointe-Saint-Charles sector, the REM's arrival gave us the opportunity to highlight and preserve a part of our common history – the one we share with Montréal's Irish community. In addition to the effort we make to minimize impact during construction, we hope that having the REM route so close to Black Rock will bring this important memorial site even more recognition," expressed Jean-Marc Arbaud, Managing director, CDPQ Infra.
Nature of the work
Within the context of building the elevated structure for the central segment of the REM, a column will be erected in one section of the Irish cemetery. This will require excavation, which could reveal relics, artifacts or even human remains in an area believed to be the main burial site of Irish victims of the Great Famine of 1847.
No drilling or excavation had been performed in the area, to date. Work scheduled to begin at the end of the month of June will be supervised by an archaeologist and a plan will be developed if archaeological discoveries are made.
SOURCE Réseau express métropolitain - REM
For further information: Information and interviews: Victor P. Boyle, National President Ancient Order of Hibernians Canada, Director Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation, 514.928.7196