St. Johns, New Brunswick was a favourite destination for Irish emigrants, many soon went south to the USA. In the mid 19th century the USA has a tax on landing immigrants, Canada did notThanks to Marthanne Williamson

AINT JOHN, N.B. — A play inspired by the history and hardship of Partridge Island is set to soon hit the stage in Saint John, as the Atlantic Repertory Company prepares for its first selection of the season.

The script for the play titled No Man Is An Island is written by local playwright Thomas Hodd and tells the story of the Irish immigrants who landed and quarantined on the island in the mid-19th century.

“Specifically in Black ’47, 1847, during the potato famine in Ireland,” says actor Kenzie Delo. “(That) was sort of the catalyst for a lot of Irish immigrants making their way across the Atlantic to Canada, to America – but the story is very specific to Saint John itself.”

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To give the actors a better idea of what life might have been like on the island for their characters, they recently made their way across through a local tour company.

“You really do get a sense of being shut in on the island. You get to see some of the old foundations, there’s buildings that used to be there, homes that used to be there,” Delo says.

It was an experience that drove home the distance, both literal and figurative, between the mainland and Partridge Island – which is connected to the west side of Saint John by breakwater.

“It would have actually felt like a different world,” says actor Patrick Jeffrey.

“There’s a part of the play where we reference how we can see the mainland from our window, but it feels like a world away.”

The play is being directed by Ron Jenkins and touches on themes that are still relevant today – especially amid a pandemic – isolation, immigration, prejudice, and sacrifice.

“You’re going to relate to every single character,” says actor Caroline Bell.

“There’s empathy for them, they each have a humanity within them – but that’s scary, that’s dangerous when the ideas are so black and white, this or that.”

The play will be staged live from Aug. 4-7 at the Saint John Theatre Company inside the BMO Theatre – and performances will be streamed from Aug. 6-7. 

For more information, including how to buy tickets, go to the Saint John Theatre Company’s website.

Partridge Island Quarantine Station National Historic Site of Canada

Extracts from Newspapers Printed in Cork and New Brunswick with a Genealogical Interest.

Place Names of Prince Edward County, Canada, Rossmore, Shannonville, Relict of 1820s Emigration from Durrus District, West Cork

Emigration from the Bandon/Rathclaren area, Co Cork from c 1815 to Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada

Irish Links to New Brunswick, Canada, 1843, Repeal Meeting.

Emigrant ships from West Cork to St. Johns, New Brunswick, 1832-1847\\

Letter William J. Dealy, 1798- Shipowner, Bantry, Co. Cork re trade, fishing business to his son in Canada 1840, and the Dealy Brig