The summer of 1847 saw the arrival of 100,000 emigrants from Ireland who sailed to Quebec City in flight from tyranny and artificial famine. By 1848 20,000 of these had perished and of these over 5000 lie in a mass grave on Grosse Île.
Parks Canada held an official ceremony on Grosse Île commemorating the 175th anniversary of the tragedy of 1847. A group of twenty members of Irish Heritage Quebec were in attendance and met the Irish Ambassador Eamonn McKee who had been invited by Parks Canada. Other guests were federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos, Christine Loth-Bown, Vice-President, Indigenous Affairs and Cultural heritage, Parks Canada, and Bryan O’Gallagher, president of Irish Heritage Quebec. Each spoke in commemoration of the thousands of who lie buried beneath 47 crosses in the Irish cemetery. They spoke also of the survivors, their subsequent contribution to our history and the persistence of their Irish heritage. They placed floral arrangements honouring the memory of the victims and their attending doctors. Patrick McSweeney added poignancy and dignity to the occasion playing both lament and martial airs on the uilleann pipes.