This article originally appeared on the Tourism New Brunswick website.
Don’t be surprised if someone stops you on the street to say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” (Okay, you might be a little surprised.) But it’s true — about 42% of New Brunswickers can trace some component of their heritage to Celtic origins. This includes both francophones and anglophones, with ancestors hailing from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and other British isles.
Many immigrants arrived on the shores in search of a new life with fewer hardships in the 19th century. The Irish Potato Famine of 1847, in particular, drove one of the largest waves of immigration in the province’s history. The undeniable spirit and resilience of the Celtic people allowed them to establish strong roots in their adopted home, and the culture is still alive and thriving today. Here are a few ways to immerse yourself in their heritage this summer.
Canada’s Irish Festival on the Miramichi
A true celebration of all things Irish, this festival sees thousands of revelers gather each year to celebrate the region’s roots. Celtic dancing, cultural workshops, family reunions, and - of course - corned beef & cabbage are all part of the festivities.
Middle Island Irish Historial Park
This Provincial Heritage Place tells the story of Irish immigrants who were quarantined on the island in the 1800-1900s after fleeing the potato famine. The site hosts an interpretive centre, amphitheatre, and Celtic Cross.
Moncton Highland Games & Scottish Festival
When was the last time you watched a sheep dog demonstration or cheered on a caber toss? New Brunswick’s Scottish roots are on full display at this festival hosted by the Greater Moncton Scottish Association.
Off-Kilter Biking Tours
This is hands-on learning at its best (or should we say kilts-on?). In homage to the region's roots, this bike tour gives each rider a kilt to wear while exploring the surrounding area. They're all hand-made by a local master kilter. It's not required, but it's definitely fun.
Celtic Cross Memorial at Indian Point
Overlooking expansive Passamaquoddy Bay, this memorial pays tribute to the Irish immigrants buried on nearby Hospital Island, a quarantine station established in 1832 and dismantled 30 years later.
Founding Cultures Museum
Irish and Scottish cultures might not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of Acadians, but in fact their history is well intertwined. Learn all about it at this museum on the Acadian coast. About 30 minutes away, in Bathurst, is a Celtic Cross monument commemorating the immigrants.
New Brunswick Highland Games Festival
This festival invites you to be a Scot for a weekend, and we suggest you take them up on it. Held on the beautiful grounds of Fredericton’s Government House, it’s a weekend of full-on Scottish fun. Traditional sporting events, Scottish treats (oh yes, there’s haggis), plus bagpipes, dancing, workshops and even a kilted run.
The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse
What’s a deep-dive into Celtic culture without a pint at a public house? Head to The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse in Moncton for a Guinness and a chinwag surrounded by the owner’s own Irish artifacts.
Discover more about New Brunswick’s Irish heritage or plan your own adventure right now.