Nova Hibernia

Remember when the 2nd Premier of Ontario, and leader of the federal Liberal Party (who was born in Upper Canada), went on to serve 15 years in Westminister as an elected representative of the Irish Parliamentary Party for County Longford - South? Neither did I.
Sounds suspiciously like a book my advisor, Colin Barr, just released ;) But if you ARE interested in the study, I'd suggest reaching out to him! :)
Oh I'm very interested in that read!

Edit: ah I see this is the one you've already recommended, Religion in Greater Ireland. Cheers again can't wait to read this.

Well this was an interesting and relevant read! (Archbishop Lynch and New Ireland: An Unfulfilled Dream for Canada's Northwest).

Details the efforts made 1873-1887 to establish a farming colony for Irish and Scottish Catholics it what is now Manitoba.

The key figure was Irish-born Archbishop Joseph Lynch of Ontario, who took over as Archbishop in 1860 from a French-Canadian (approximately representing the take-over of the Catholic Church hierarchy in Ontario).

Archbishop Lynch was opposed to Irish immigration (although he stated many times that he approved of rural immigration, but was concerned that so many Irish Catholics settled in those vice filled cities- and some of the Irish Catholic women even married Protestants.)

So he began actively discouraging Irish immigration from 1860.

In 1873, the Archbishop of Quebec, Taschereau, visited England and Ireland. While there, he devised a plan to assist Catholic migrants from the slums of English cities to Ontario.

He expressed this to Lynch, who explained his objections.

Taschereau had erstwhile been trying to encourage French-Canadian immigration to Manitoba without much success. So he married the two plans together, and eventually Lynch agreed to head the operation, (apparently partly because it involved a trip to Ireland).

So Lynch headed to Ireland and the UK to pitch the idea to the local gentry while Governor-General Lorne worked the locals.

Lynch found a surprisingly receptive gentry class in Ireland who were willing to commit funds for assisted migration to remove the poorest of their tenants.

The British government apparently "pledged" £100,000 to get the scheme off the ground, enthusiastic as they were to empty their slums.

But the timing was real bad. Almost simultaneously, the Phoenix Park murders took place (where two MPs, IIRC, were murdered in Dublin in a political attack), which set off a wave an anti-Irish sentiment in Britain. That alone may have helped the situation...but the Canadian parliament, at nearly the same time, passed a bill calling for Home Rule for Ireland.

Britain resented her colony getting uppity and telling her what to do; Britain also seemed to realize the potential for fostering an anti-British group within Canada by encouraging too many Irish Catholics to live together.

The British backed out; although the Canadian government replaced the initial pledge. The Manitoba legislature passed laws which were identical to the later homestead act: Irish immigrants would have the right to buy 160 acres for £5, and first right of refusal on the adjacent 160 acres. Men would have jobs on the CPR. Women would grow potatoes.

The federal government even passed legislation offering Irish immigrants free rail transport from Québec or Halifax to anywhere in Canada. Gladstone's 1881 Land Act included an emigration clause. Lynch attempted to argue that an assisted migration society was necessary to make this work. But Gladstone was busy and cancelled their meeting.

Who knows what that meeting could have changed, as Lynch appears to have been right: without the support and funding from Britain, far too many Irish could not afford the passage to Quebec or Halifax, and the dream died.

Another article that tracks this scheme from the Irish side. Many wealthy locals, for a variety of reasons but perhaps surprisingly humanitarian, responded to the destitute conditions on Ireland's West Coast from 1879 with an attempt to revive the assisted immigration plan. James Hack Tuke, a Quaker, would assist several thousand Gaelic speaking families from the West Coast to North America in 1883 and 1884. He encouraged them to settle in Canada, where the CPR had agreed to provide 100 acres free up front to 50,000 Irish, who would pay the CPR back over time.

In the end, due to lack of financial support from the UK government (the plan as developed was for 100,000 Irish speakers from the west coast of Ireland, mostly from Galway and Mayo but from Kerry, Clare, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim as well, all families, no single men, to present day Manitoba), and reliance on private subscriptions, and the letters back home from the initial settlers in Manitoba (which may have the coldest winters in North America), the plan fizzled out with only about 20,000 Irish taking part in the assisted migration in 1883 and 1884, with only about 3600 settling in Canada.

It was estimated to cost about £700,000 to bring the 100,000 Irish over & settle them. The British government initially offered £5 per migrant, but due to political conflicts and calculations, eventually reduced the amount to £50,000 total.

Of course, even if 100,000 Irish speakers arrived in Canada, the majority would not likely stay. And Manitoba was never going to be that desirable. Vancouver Island is a better bet; but it wasnt particularly Irish or Catholic at the time and wouldve been significantly more expensive.

So my ideal world would be to settle them in OTL Bruce and Grey Counties of Ontario. The majority are likely to move on to the USA within a few years...

Which would mean a massive influx of Catholic Irish speakers into Michigan and Wisconsin in the mid 1880s and likely a second "Cape Breton 2: Irish Boogaloo" Gaeltacht up the Bruce (where I must admit I mostly grew up).

Undoubtedly 100,000 Catholic Irish speakers in the 1880s would transform the area.
County for County
One thing that has worked out nicely is that the average size of a barony in Ireland is 63,000 acres; Ontario was divided into townships of 64,000 acres.

Alright very very roughly, this is what I've got so far:

I've tried to consider that the British authorities at the time had a highly flawed and romanticized view of Ireland, and that they were in fact more likely to name places after, say, the Earl of Kildare than the County (for example).

When it wasnt clear in my mind the direction to take, I've let county colours and nicknames guide my decisions. Everything is subject to change and any input is welcome:


OTL (going forward in this post means Ontario TL)
Counties Essex, Kent and Elgin would either be merged into one - Cork, or, named after 3 Baronies.

I've currently got Essex renamed Carbery, with Kent renamed Blackwater and Elgin renamed Youghal; although the name Elgin could be retained, or it could be called something else like Muskerry. Desmond could be worked in there somewhere as well.

Windsor could be renamed Cork; although given how distinctive this name is and how relatively infrequently it was used, I suspect they might not. My original thought was Queenstown but the name is anachronous: it wasnt called Queenstown yet when "Sandwich" was being settled in Canada. Kingstown is another possibility because the local Lord Kingstown assisted the passage of thousands of his tenants to the area, and because it's on the border with the USA.

Cork was one of only 6 counties which doesnt have a namesake in Canada OTL, and I wanted to attempt to follow that guideline.

Chatham could be Peterborough, after Peter Robinson, who engineered the scheme to bring the migrants to the area. I also like the idea of Queenstown - Chatham was named because it was the site of Ontario's first naval dockyard (as its namesake in Kent, England). But again, anachronous. Kinsale? Kinsale is a nice name. But although being a port, it's on the Thames, which is going to be called the Shannon. So it would be a very confused identity. I like Peterborough because it helps me fudge things.

Lambton county is renamed Kerry. (Although Kerry is another of the 6 counties without a namesame in Canada - but there is a Kerrytown in PEI). Sarnia is probably going to stay the same; it was named by the colonial governor for the Latin name of Guernsey, his family's ancestral seat. And it's pretty unique. But towns like Listowel and Killarney will be in the area.

Middlesex County is both Clare and Limerick, divided by the Shannon. I think the county would be called Thomond and the city Limerick, or possibly vice versa. The Thames is the Shannon.

Perth County is North Tipperary, Stratford is Thurles (or, maybe Guelph, the surname of the local landed family) and instead of the Stratford Shakespeare festival, the town becomes the centre of the provincial Tailteann Games.

Oxford county becomes South Tipperary; Woodstock is Cashel or Mountcashell (after the Lord); Ingersoll is Tipperary or Tipptown (despite its fame, doesn't seem to be many Tipperaries out there). Tillsonburg is Clonmel.

The two counties could easily be merged. They represent some of the best pastureland in the province. As Tipp was also one of 6 Irish counties without a namesame county in Canada, I also considered the name "Ormonde".

Haldimand-Norfolk County would be Waterford. The border would be at the Grand River, however. (Renamed the Barrow).

This works quite nicely because there is already a Waterford here; but I'm going to move it to Dunnville.

ITTL, the two counties would be one historically, with the county town being Waterford, not Simcoe - so I'd imagine that TTL Waterford is about twice the size of the OTL Dunnville area, at around 25,000 people - a population that hasnt really changed since the 1842 census.

Port Dover is Dungarvan. Delhi is Lismore.


Niagara County would be Wexford, although it's entirely possible that Niagara is the name. Port Colborne is Wexford; or maybe Welland is? (The Wexford Canal?). Works nicely because of the fruit orchards in the area. Probably Ontario's mildest climate. You could even have the Rosslare bridge take you to America.

I'm going to have to do some splitting and splicing to make these all work; but very roughly -

Hamilton-Wentworth, and parts of Halton will become Wicklow

Hamilton itself is Wicklow, that has survived. Brantford is probably Carlow or Caherlough; however Brant County will probably be divided by the river with the west half being joined to Waterloo.

Alright so Waterloo and Wellington - in early designs, these quite nicely replaced Laois and Offaly (instead of Kings and Queens). But the geography doesnt quite work and instead I believe that Waterloo should be Kilkenny. The county colours of Waterloo are black and gold. The main city, Kitchener, is called Ktown by locals.

I'm still going to have Waterloo and Wellington replace Laois and Offaly; but the area will be more like the area covered by Wellington and some parts of Dufferin.

Edit: Wellington North joins Dufferin to become Roscommon.

Kitchener is a decent name (as Kitchener was Irish); although it couldnt come around until WWI. Maybe Kilkenny is renamed Kitchener after the Irish War of Independence? That would set things off, wouldn't it?

Or also possibly Guelph is Kitchener (if the name Guelph is used somewhere else). But I digress.

Kildare was the hardest one; I'll have to hack up bits of Peel, Halton and Wellington to make it work. Edit: Brampton, Milton and Halton Hills becomes Kildare.

Toronto is Dublin. Toronto's colours in sports are traditionally double blue; Trinity College is located there, the seat of Parliament. Works quite well.

Now one of my prouder accomplishments - naming York as Westmeath and Durham as Meath. Tilted the geography a little to make it work. As a result, this the southern end of this Westmeath will have little in common with the area in Ireland. I suppose the southern part could be part of Kildare?

Within Durham, Oshawa is named Drogheda. Although tbh, it's probably renamed Oshawa eventually, just as Dublin is renamed Toronto.

Northumberland is renamed Louth; Port Hope becomes Dundalk.


Bruce County is renamed Galway, Port Elgin-Southampton renamed Galway and made the county town, rather than Walkerton, meaning Galway could have as many as 25,000 people. The Bruce Peninsula is Connemara.

Grey county is Mayo. Owen Sound could be Northport.

Sligo and Roscommon were two of the counties without namesakes in Canada. And the map has gotten quite jumble as the shapes arent the same - so I bailed myself out. Simcoe County (and most of Dufferin) will be renamed Connaught.

Barrie could be Athlone (or possibly keep its name as it was named after a Colonial administrator); Collingwood or Midland could be Sligo. Orillia could be Carrick (I've included Leitrim in Connaught despite their being a namesake county).

Longford is Ramara Township.


Kawartha Lakes becomes Cavan.

The Trent-Severn waterway is the Erne.

Peterborough County becomes Fermanagh, the main town is renamed Enniskillen.

Monaghan is OTL northern Northumberland (Louth) and southern Peterborough (Fermanagh).

And so we finally did it - OTL Monaghan Township is in TTL Monaghan County.

A line will be drawn from northeast corner of Northumberland/Louth to the northwest corner of Leeds & Grenville. This would cut Hastings, Lennox & Addington, and Frontenac counties in two, with a more heavily populated southern bit and a more remote northern bit.

(Southern) Hastings is Armagh County. Belleville is Armagh with Napanee as Newry.

Prince Edward County is called "Mourne"; the southern bit of Lennox & Addington is Down (or Ards)

Southern Frontenac is joined to Leeds &Grenville. They become Antrim. Kingston is Belfast, with Queen's University.

Lanark is called Carelton (the first Colonial Governor was from Derry)

The northern bits of Frontenac, Hastings, and L & A become "Tyrone". This area will have a county town that doesnt exist OTL, making one community likely larger. We can call this community Omagh.

Leaving Pembroke to become Donegal. This worked nicely because it means that OTL Letterkenny (the TV series) will be filmed in TTL Letterkenny. (The actual town which Letterkenny is based on is Listowel, which is in Perth County. So north Tipp)

I mainly did this info dump so i could stop thinking about it; but if anyone does have any comments, I would very much appreciate what anyone has to say.
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I've read that Meagher intended on settling the Montana Territory as a New Ireland. Not trying to derail the thread, just making a note.
Inspired a bit by Akenson's diligence, I've completed an analysis of the passenger records of the 9 ships which Peter Robinson chartered to bring poor Irish Catholic farmers to Canada from Munster.

A total of 2346 arrived in Canada , over 80% arriving in July 1825 and the rest in August 1823.

In total, there were 1,852 settlers from County Cork. The vast majority were from the Blackwater region; however at least 100 were from the southwest coast or Cork City.

In total there were 249 settlers from Limerick, spread fairly evenly throughout the county.

There were 242 settlers from Tipperary, almost all from the southern part of the county and especially near the border with Limerick and Cork.

There were 105 settlers from Kerry. Mostly from Listowel, which is what Grand Bend could be called.

There were 43 settlers from Clare, mostly from Sixmilebridge which isnt far from Limerick.

There were 34 settlers from Waterford, mostly from Lismore near the border with Cork and Tipp but also a family from Dungarvan.

There were 17 settlers from Callan in Kilkenny.

There were 5 settlers, one family, from Wicklow.

IOTL they were settled in the Peterborough area. I will be settling them in the area around Chatham-Kent, in their namesake counties.

They will thank me. I have just moved them from arguably the worst farmland in southern Ontario to probably the best. Although, as it is further away from the major cities, at the time it would be seen as significantly more remote.
I live in BC now. Just spoke to a coworker who attended university in Ontario.

When he found out I was from there, he said "ok please tell me: why does everyone in Ontario ask if I'm Catholic or Protestant?"

Because they care, mate. Because they care.

My hypothesis is that rural Ontario is so goshdarn Irish that people ask this question instead. They dont ask if you're Irish, because its implied. They get to the heart of the matter.
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