Tag Archives: Benevolent Irish Society

“Drowning the shamrock”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 17

Photo Credit: “Drowning the Shamrock” Illustrated London News, March 19, 1853

Photo Credit: “Drowning the Shamrock” Illustrated London News, March 19, 1853

The St. John’s newspaper, The Newfoundlander reporting on the celebrations of the members of Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) in St. John’s on March 17, 1829  wrote:

The company continued to retire, successively, until six o’clock on Sheelagh’s morning, (March 18) at which hour, we understand, a few of the campaigners might have been seen, as usual, piously and patriotically employed in “drowning the shamrock.”

The  Newfoundland tradition called “drowning the shamrock” takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, when the shamrock that has been worn in the hat or lapel is removed and put into the last drink of the evening.

A toast is proposed and then, when the toast has been honored, the shamrock is taken from the bottom of the glass and thrown over the left shoulder.

Time to bring back the tradition of ‘drowning the shamrock.’

Sláinte!

Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives  take some time to look at MG 612  the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) collection. This collection consists of  the minute books  of  the BIS (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Museum Exhibit:  take some time to see: Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground , an exhibition  at The Rooms, that introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recommended Activities: The Irish Newfoundland Association as part of their 40th  Annual Irish Week Celebrations are proud to  work with other  organizations to  celebrate our Irish culture.   Click here for an UPDATED  calendar of Irish related events: http://archivalmoments.ca/2017/03/irish-week-events-calendar-2017/

 

 

 

 

Opera tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

September 8, 1879

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: VA 35-24.7 The Opera Theatre in the Total Abstinence Hall,St. John’s, 1894.

There was much excitement in St. John’s on (8 September 1879) with the debut performance of Clara Fisher in St. John’s.  Miss Fisher was the American star of the Josie Loane Opera Company; the young soprano was starring in the opera the H.M.S. Pinafore.  The performance marked the emergence of an amateur and semi-professional operatic tradition in St John’s.

Miss Fisher appreciated her reception – she was so impressed that she moved to Newfoundland, staying for over a decade, becoming one of the most popular actresses and singers in St. John’s.

She worked extensively with (Sir) Charles Hutton appearing in several of his adaptations of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Foremost among these productions were Patience in 1883, The Mikado in 1886, The Sorcerer in 1887, and Trial by Jury and Cox and Box in 1894. Numerous other operettas followed, several directed by the Englishman Peter LeSueur just after the turn of the century, or by Gordon Christian in the 1930s, but the majority was under Hutton’s direction.

The operatic movement almost ended with Hutton’s retirement from public life in 1939, his protégé, Ignatius Rumboldt, sustained the tradition for another decade.

Much of the operatic tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador for the past 40 years has been fostered by the School of Music at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The School produces either one full opera or a series of one act operas, fully staged, annually. The School of Music has also supported undergraduate and graduate training in opera, developing high profile, active careers in the field.

Memorial has also developed the Opera Road Show is a professional touring option for students that has been running for 13 years and has reached thousands of children across the province with its operas specially tailored for young children.

The new incarnation has been ‘Opera on the Avalon’ establishd in 2009. It has become a leader for invigorating the opera scene and increasing a following for it in Newfoundland and Labrador, producing everything from Baroque to modern operas.

Opera first came to Newfoundlandin 1820, when local amateurs in St. John’s performed the “Duenna” by Thomas Liney.

All of the buildings in St. John’s designed for theatre and opera were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1892. In rebuilding public buildings after 1893 consideration was given to opera, the Total Abstinence Hall, The Benevolent Irish Society Hall (BIS) and the Star of the Sea all established theatres.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Provincial Archives Division at The Rooms see MG 343.1 this item consists of an opera “given in aid of the poor by a number of amateur ladies and gentlemen”  at the Star of the Sea Hall, St. John’s, 1883.

Recommended Action:  Enjoy concerts by Memorial University School of Music faculty, visiting artists and students together. http://www.mun.ca/music/

Support the work of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.  www.nsomusic.ca

We also have “Opera on the Avalon”  http://www.operaontheavalon.com/ 

Take some time to explore these sites.

St. Patrick’s Day Tradition in Newfoundland and Labardor

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 17, 1851

The Executive and members of the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) marched for the first time from their club rooms to the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) on St. Patrick’s Day 1851 and were welcomed by the Bishop. The tradition of the parade to the Basilica, followed by the celebration of the mass (the Feast of St. Patrick’s), is followed by a reception by the bishop in the Episcopal Residence. The tradition continues to this day.

Leaving  the company of the Archbishop  the tradition was for the  BIS to parade to  Government House to be received by the  Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The members of the Executive have since the first visitation presented  their hosts with a  small basket of shamrocks.

The B.I.S. was formally established in St. John’s on February 5, 1806 as a non-denominational service club to help educate and improve the lifestyle of the poor Irish immigrant children of St. John’s. The primary requirement for membership was that the individuals be of Irish birth or ancestry. The constitution of the B.I.S. is based on three principles of charity, benevolence and philanthropy.

As the seal and motto the members of the BIS chose the figure of St. Patrick bearing the cross surrounded by the inscription – “he that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord.”

The Benevolent Irish Society was unique in that it was nonsectarian and offered assistance to the needy regardless of their religion. The founders of the Society were among the first generation of permanent residents in Newfoundland. They included politicians, businessmen and clergy who played significant roles in the political, economic and spiritual growth of the developing colony.

Membership continues to be open to adult residents of Newfoundland who are of Irish birth or ancestry, regardless of religious persuasion.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives  take some time to look at MG 612  the BIS  collection  it consists of minutes of  the BIS (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Recommended Museum Exhibit:  take some time to see : Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground , an exhibition  at The Rooms, that introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Join the Irish Newfoundland Association (INA) at the Bella Vista, Torbay Road,  St. John’s at 8:00 p.m.   $20.00   for their annual St. Patrick’s Day Entertainment and Dance. Two great traditional groups – Middle Tickle  and the Freels.  For more: http://irishnewfoundlandassociation.ca/irish-newfoundland-week-2015-events/   

First meeting of the Benevolent Irish Society

Archival Moment

February 5, 1806

The headquarters of the BIS is now located  at 30 Harvey Road.

The headquarters of the BIS is now located at 30 Harvey Road.

On February 5, 1806 the first meeting of the Benevolent Irish Society (B.I.S.) was held at the London Tavern, St. John’s. The Society was founded for the relief of the poor by a group of 78 Irishmen.

“At a meeting held at the London Tavern, St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Wednesday the 5th February 1806, a number of Irish Gentlemen desirous of relieving the wants and desires of their Countrymen and fellow-creatures at large. It was unanimously agreed, that a Society formed upon true principles of Benevolence and Philanthropy would be the most effectual mode of establishing permanent relief.”

The Society was constitutionally established on February 17, 1806.

As the seal and motto, the BIS founding members, chose the figure of the patron saint of their old country , St. Patrick bearing the cross surrounded by the inscription “he that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord.”

The Benevolent Irish Society was unique in that it was nonsectarian and offered assistance to the needy regardless of their religion.

“all denominations of Christians were admissible to its ranks the only qualifications required being one that one should be an Irishman or the descendant of an Irishman. “

At the time “the needy” were referred to as the wretched and distressed.”

The founders of the Society were among the first generation of permanent residents in Newfoundland. They included politicians, businessmen and clergy who played significant roles in the political, economic and spiritual growth of the developing colony.

The headquarters of the BIS, fronting on Queen’s Road, backing on Military Road opposite of the R.C. Basilica, was converted into a condominium residence in the late 1990’s. (see photo)

The headquarters of the BIS is now located at 30 Harvey Road.

The very popular London Tavern showed no denominational bias, the free Masons met in the fine establishment from 1774 -1832. Located at the corner of what is now York and Wood Streets it’s proprietors Mr. Cornelius QUIRK (1770’s -1810) and later James PHEALAN (1810 -1830’s) liked to have a drink with anyone.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives discover the Benevolent Irish Society [BIS] fonds, MG 612. This collection includes 12 microfilmed reels of documents including minutes (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Recommended Archival Collection: “Rules and constitution of the Benevolent Irish Society: February 17th, 1806”. Recounts the establishment of the Society in February 1806 and presents the rules and constitution drawn up by the founding committee. Read More: http://collections.mun.ca/cdm/ref/collection/cns/id/17588

Recommended Web Site: http://www.bisnl.ca/main/node

Orphan Asylum School

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

January 30, 1876.

The Orphan Asylum School, Queens Road, St. John’s

On January 30, 1876 the Irish Christian Brothers opened their first school in Newfoundland known locally as the Orphan Asylum School.  The school had previously been under the jurisdiction of the Benevolent Irish Society. (BIS).

The arrival of the three Christian Brothers implied far more than the arrival of a few more teachers.  It meant the introduction of a group of teachers who taught as a unit, were all trained in the same teaching methods, used the same graded text books and employed the same code of discipline.

Attendance shot up from 66 at the former Orphan Asylum School in November to 300, the full limit of the space available.

The Orphan Asylum was built on Queen’s Road on the side of the hill overlooking St. John’s, across the street from the Basilica. The building featured a prominent tower observatory that was one of the most prominent architectural features of the city in its day.

After a year of teaching at the school, the BIS and Christian Brothers decided that the fifty-year-old wooden structure was no longer suitable and plans were made for a new stone building on the same lot. The Orphan Asylum School was sold for thirty-five pounds and was torn down.

Recommended Archival Collection:  Archives of the Congregation of the Christian Brothers, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recommended Web Site:  The History of Catholic Education in Newfoundland. http://fromslatetochalk.ca/

Recommended Reading: Nobel to the View, The Saga of St. Bonaventure’s College  by Brother J.B. Darcy, Creative Publishers, St. John’s. 2007