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Celebrating Newfoundland's Irish

16 Mar 2012 by Janice Goudie in Festivals & Events , Culture and History
Region: Central

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There’s one place I’ve always wanted to visit on St. Patrick’s Day. Not because I expect to find a jolly little leprechaun with a bountiful pot of gold, but because it's the closest you can get to Ireland right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The place is Tilting on Fogo Island.

Tilting is a Provincial Heritage District and a National Historic Site of Canada. It's rich in Irish heritage and residents even speak with an Irish accent. Ironically, Tilting was first occupied by the French in the late 1600's before becoming exclusively Irish in 1752 when it welcomed its first settlers from the Emerald Isle.

It's a small little picturesque community which wraps around a sheltered harbour that juts out into the North Atlantic. It's filled with family fishing stages, salt box houses, grassy meadows enclosed with intertwining alder fences, and plenty of pride and history.

Several attractions are located in Tilting including the Lane House, which is the oldest home in the community. Following a nearby trail leading from the Lane House is a cemetery that's believed to be the oldest Irish Catholic Cemetery in Newfoundland. Headstones here date back to the 1700s and contain birth places such as Cork, Tipperary, Waterford and Limerick.

It's that rich Irish history that gets the residents of Tilting celebrating each March 17. It all begins with the annual mass for St. Patrick and the placement of his statue outside the church. Afterwards, the community hosts a concert where they sing Irish tunes, dance, and perform skits and recitations.

And with so much Irish pride surrounding Tiling, what better place in Newfoundland and Labrador  to celebrate the green holiday? Who knows, perhaps next year I just might see you there.