Storied Stones : St. Patrick's Basilica : History, Identity and Memory in Irish Montréal, 1847-2017

Type of resource
Storied Stones : St. Patrick's Basilica : History, Identity and Memory in Irish Montréal, 1847-2017
The author explores the history of a segment of the Irish Catholic population of Montreal by engaging in a micro-study of St. Patrick’s Basilica, one of its religious meeting grounds. In researching St. Patrick’s as a historical, diasporic, ethnic and memory space, the author examines the past and the present incarnations of a community that has dealt with evolving notions of identities and memories. The author analyzes the experiences of Irish Montrealers outside Griffintown, the middle-class so-called “lace curtain” Irish. She points out that an investigation into the particulars of St. Patrick’s Church - now a Basilica - provides the perfect nexus to glimpse how this Irish community “above the hill” was formed, fractured, and evolved over the course of a hundred and seventy years. From attempts at procuring a church in the 1820s to the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in 2017, the author found that episodes of institutional construction at St. Patrick’s illustrate how identities and memories were formed and transformed “above the hill,” within the storied stones of St. Patrick’s. The author found that in researching the Basilica’s history, one inevitably contends with its role in fostering Irishness in the city. A large segment of the author's analysis concerns the prominent role of the Church in fashioning the ethnic and class identity of its constituents. She found that the Basilica’s history is closely related to the ideological transition of the city's Irish identities, from Irish-Canadian to Canadian-Irish. The author concludes by focusing on the church as a physical manifestation of Irish presence in Montreal. Despite the changing demographics, and the arrival of new English-speaking Catholics in Quebec, she points out that the enduring presence of St. Patrick’s Basilica as an Irish landmark in Montreal speaks to its importance as an ethnic monument and a place of pilgrimage for generations of Irish Quebecers, and those of Irish descent who trace their roots back to Montreal.
Master's Thesis
Concordia University
# of Pages
Harrigan, Camille. “Storied Stones : St. Patrick’s Basilica : History, Identity and Memory in Irish Montréal, 1847-2017.” Master’s Thesis, Concordia University, 2018.
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