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Sea to Sea Festival: Louisbourg, NS to Louisburgh, Ireland

As the community of Louisbourg gets ready to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, all organizations, community groups and businesses are partnering together to maximize the success of the celebrations.

From Rendez Vous 2017 – Tall Ships Regatta to reunion celebrations and so much more, the entire community is working together. Eileen and Michael Burke, the organizers of this event, will partner with the Louisbourg Playhouse, the Louisbourg and Area Celebration Society, Parks Canada, the Louisbourg Volunteer Fire Department, the Harbour Authority of Louisbourg and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality to create a new annual signature festival that will celebrate two communities coming together to share their uniqueness, history, culture, pride and name.

The twinning of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and Louisburgh, County Mayo has roots stemming from the Seven Years/French Indian War and the subsequent siege of Fortress Louisbourg by the British military in 1758. Among the English attackers was an Irishman Henry Browne whose nephew, John Denis Browne,eventually became the 3rd Earl of Altamont in 1780. John Denis’ wife was Louisa Catherine Howe who also had an ancestor involved in the siege of Louisbourg as a commander of a British regiment. These connections to the colonial town were most likely the reason that, in 1795, when Lord Altamont was organizing the community in county Mayo near Westport, he chose to call the town Louisburgh.So we have a very unique situation of a European town being named for a colonial town.

Our project looks to recognize this historic connection between the two communities, create awareness of and foster our cultural connection to Ireland.Because not only were there Irish amongst the attackers in Louisbourg but there were also Irish living with and beside the French in Louisbourg and on Cape Breton Island. It is reported there were three Irish priests serving in Louisbourg and the parish records have listings for Irish baptisms,marriages and deaths. Many of the settlers who followed the French departure from Louisbourg have Irish names: Buckley, Kennedy, Burke,Kelly,and Kehoe. The Irish have been coming to Cape Breton since long before the Great Hunger in the middle of the nineteenth century.

This new Signature Festival – Louisbourg, NS – Louisburgh, Ireland Sea to Sea, taking place on Friday September 8 – 10, will focus on the history and culture of these two names and the sharing of information, resources, stories and the celebration of two communities sharing the same name. The two day festival will showcase local and Irish music at the playhouse, Siege Site Tours at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site by historians, interactive sharing of cultural information by representatives of both communities, information sessions by archaeologists and historians talking about the two communities and a commemorative display at the entrance to Louisbourg, NS similar to Louisburgh, Ireland that will bond them culturally and historically.

Please look forward to a schedule of events coming soon!